Are you looking for a simple way to make and set up an iguana cage?
Do you want to do this in a way setting your pet up for a long and healthy life?
As with most pets, habitats are key for good lives, and the part most often messed up with iguanas is their cage.
You need to know exactly how to make an iguana cage.
There are a lot of different ways to do it and a lot of misinformation out there. Luckily, we’re here to help!
Read ahead for our directions on how to build an iguana cage for cheap.
Note: This idea is for adult green iguanas. Green iguanas smaller than 18″ inches (45.72 cm) should be kept in a 20-gallon tank.
Table of Contents
What You’ll Need
In this section, we’ll cover what you need to make an iguana cage.
You may have some of these items already and don’t need to purchase them.
Fence posts – The fence posts are only for outdoor cages (which we recommend if possible).
If you don’t use the posts, make sure you have a bottom to your cage.
The fence posts need to be 8 ft (2.44 m) tall, or you need to be able to attach on top of them to reach a 6′ feet (1.83 m) tall cage height.
If using posts, you’ll need 6 of them.
Frame pieces – You’ll need wood to put the frame together.
Depending on the size of your pen, you’ll need different amounts of wood.
We recommend a 12′ foot x 6′ foot x 6′ foot space.
For this, you’ll need 22 pieces of 2″ inches (5.08 cm) x 2″ inches (5.08 cm) pieces of wood at least 6′ feet (1.83 m) long.
Door Hinges -These will attach your door frame to the frame of the cage.
We recommend at least three hinges spread evenly starting one foot off the bottom with 2′ feet (0.61 m) in between each hinge.
Door latches – The latches are a must for keeping the door shut.
Iguanas are fast and good climbers.
If they escape, you may not be able to find them easily again.
Screws and screwdriver – Use some screws and a power drill to attach the pieces.
½ inch screws will work for the hinges, but these often come with their own.
Longer screws (2.5″ inches (6.35 cm)) are needed to put the framing pieces together.
Post digger – If using posts for outdoor cages (which we recommend), you’ll need a post digger to dig out the hole in a post shape.
A standard shovel could work, but it’s a lot more work than it’s worth.
If you don’t have one already, the post hole digger is a valid addition to anyone’s tool garage.
Quick-set Cement – After inserting the posts, you’ll need to secure them with cement.
This will prevent sagging.
Quick setting concrete is more useful for keeping this project down in time.
Otherwise, you’re stuck at step one for a whole day.
Tight thread wire mesh – Wire mesh or chain link at ½ inch thickness makes the best material for sides.
This prevents the iguana from escaping, but it allows for ventilation.
Good ventilation is important for preventing respiratory infections.
If you’re building interior cages or a cage butting up to another building, you may not need to cover every side.
The long sides will need 72 square feet (6.69 m²) of material each.
The short sides will need 36 square feet (3.34 m²).
If you’re doing the ceiling (you need something on top), this is another 72 square feet (6.69 m²) of material.
Wire Cutters – This is for cutting the wire mesh.
Lamp settings – You’ll need a lamp to put the powerful heating and UVB bulbs into.
We like this one by ReptiZoo.
Thermometer/hygrometer – This tracks the general temp and humidity of the cage.
Infrared thermometer – This thermometer gun will help you check specific spots in the cage.
This is useful for basking spots and hiding spots.
Circular Saw – A powered circular saw will make cutting the framing pieces to length quite easy.
Hammer and nails – If you prefer to connect wood with a hammer and nails, this is fine.
Step By Step Instructions For How To Build An Iguana Enclosure
Here are the directions for building an iguana enclosure.
Note: We urge you to consider using the dimensions we mention in the directions.
Smaller cages may seem more realistic to you, but to give the best life for your pet, it needs space.
At the least, you’ll want a 6ft (1.83 m) long, 6ft (1.83 m) wide, and 6 ft (1.83 m) tall cage.
We recommend 12 ft (3.66 m) in length.
You’ll see many examples of smaller spaces out there, but the most common reason for shortened lifespan with green iguanas is a too-small cage.
#1 Assemble The Frame
The first step after you’ve gathered your materials is to assemble the frame.
If you’re following our recommendations and doing this at the larger dimensions, you’ll be best served to do this in a garage or outside.
If doing this outside, your first goal is to insert the posts.
Dig your hole 2′ feet (0.61 m) in the ground where each post will go.
This means you’ll need four posts on each corner and one post each on the longer side.
You’re looking at six posts in total.
Posts should be dug 2′ feet (0.61 m) into the ground.
Use quick-set cement to secure.
If you’re doing a freestanding pen or cage, you may skip this step, but you’ll need to enclose the bottom with plywood to prevent the iguana from digging out and escaping.
Once your posts are in (or not), use your longer framing pieces to connect the posts.
Attach them with your screw and screwdriver.
We recommend connecting them on the bottom, middle, and top.
Each piece should be cut fit tightly.
Note: Leave out the side where the door is going to go.
#2 Set In The Door
Use some pieces to make a simple door frame.
Make the door frame 3ft (0.91 m) wide by 5 ft (1.52 m) 10″ inches (25.4 cm) tall.
Take the simple door frame and attach it using hinges.
Attach the rest of the framing pieces around (but not to) the door.
We recommend attaching multiple latches, and small gate locks every 2′ feet (0.61 m) on the door.
Otherwise, the iguana may escape.
#3 Attach The Mesh Or Link
Using your chain link or small, tough metal mesh, measure and cut to fit around every piece of the cage.
Attach with thick, tough staples either hammered or stapled in.
Make sure there is no give or flexibility in the mesh, or the iguana may push through it.
Give the door its own piece (if needed) and don’t accidentally cover the door with the metal (I’ve never done this on accident).
This is the most important step as iguanas can escape through poorly secured mesh.
If outside, take extra care to secure a mesh (or nail down plywood) on the top.
Remember, iguanas are arboreal and will climb up to the top.
#4 Install The Heating/UVB Elements
Install the heating and UVB lamps through clamps to where you want the basking spot to be.
Most lamps will come with clamps, so use the directions coming with those products.
Thread and attach the wiring well away from where the iguana will regularly climb outside the cage to its nearest outlet.
#5 Put In Furniture/Plants
Add the furniture and plants to the cage.
Make sure there are plenty of places to climb, and every climbable piece is connected to another.
The idea is the iguana can climb to any point in the cage from any other. It’s like a highway of branches and climbing pieces.
Make sure there is a firm horizontal resting spot 6″ – 7″ inches (17.78 cm) away from the basking lights.
Secure the furniture pieces, so they don’t break and fall, causing the iguana injury.
#6 Install Gauges
Install your thermometer and hygrometer gauges where they need to be.
Some owners (as seen in the video below) use advanced systems with sensors thread throughout the cage.
It’s simpler to use a thermometer/hygrometer combination in the middle of the enclosure and have an infrared thermometer to check the temperature at the basking and cooling spots.
#7 Finish Up And Test
Clean and finish decorating as you need.
Add substrate if you wish and pick spots for feeding.
Add a water dish.
The most important thing to do before adding the iguana is to turn on the heating and UVB lights for a couple of hours and then check the temperature.
You’re aiming for the following:
- Basking spot = 120° degrees Fahrenheit (49° C)
- Overall temp = 100° degrees Fahrenheit (38° C)
- Cool/hiding spot = 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C)
When this checks out, your iguana cage is ready for use! Congratulations!
How To Build An Indoor Iguana Cage
All the above ideas will work just as well in an interior setting.
The main differences are the height of your ceiling limits you, and you don’t need to dig underground to prevent digging and escaping.
For interior cages, it’s essential to provide live plants to keep the air as fresh as possible.
Even if you just put live plants in the same room as the cage.
The slightly higher humidity required and the higher temperature needs will cause mold to grow fast if you’re not careful.
Make sure you’re cleaning the cage regularly and keeping things and air circulating as much as possible.
See what an example of this looks like in the video below.
Commonly Asked Questions
Here are answers to some questions we get when we talk about how to build an iguana enclosure.
What should be in an iguana cage? – Iguana cages should include the following types of items:
- Secure walls and tops
- Heating lamps
- UVB lights
- Water and food dishes
- Clean, safe substrate
- Live plants for climbing
- Furniture for climbing and hiding in
- Plenty of space (72 square feet (6.69 m²))
- Thermometers and hygrometers for measuring temperature and humidity
Learn more about how to care for an iguana.
How do you make an iguana cage out of wood? – This largely depends on how much you follow our directions and how much wood you want to use.
Using entirely wood for the cage is tricky as you need to prevent the iguana from escaping the wall materials.
For those who want more wood, I suggest using wood as the framework but still using chain-link material for the walls.
What kind of plants can I put in my iguana cage? – All non-toxic and non-poisonous plants, flowers, and trees are fine for an iguana cage.
Larger plants generally do better because the iguana will eat them.
Also, iguanas love to climb, so consider a good mix of plants.
What do I put in the bottom of my iguana cage? – For substrate, you don’t have to put anything in the bottom, but it helps with cleanup, heat, and humidity.
Reptile carpet or liners work well and last a long time.
A real substrate or bedding materials such as alfalfa meal, cypress mulch, or shredded coconut fibers are excellent choices.
Check out our picks for the best iguana substrate.
Do iguanas like to be petted? – Yes and no.
Iguanas respond well to bonding and grow to enjoy being handled or “pet” to a certain degree.
However, too much handling can cause skin irritation, and their instincts don’t take well to being handled too much.
Start petting for small periods and grow longer.
Always be on the lookout for signs the pet is rejecting your attention.
It’s OK to come back another time and do it again.
Learn more about how to tame an iguana.
Now you know how to make an iguana cage.
The enclosure will require some work; after all, these are big reptiles.
But once it’s set up, you don’t need to do too much to keep it up.
This will help your pet live the best and healthiest life it can.
Just make sure you get the full 12ft (3.66 meters) x 6ft (1.83 meters) x 6ft (1.83 m) size to give your iguana plenty of space to run around, and it’ll be happy!