Are you interested in learning more about keeping iguanas as pets?
Do you need to know more about what you need to do for an iguana before committing to owning it?
Raising a reptile such as an iguana isn’t as well-known or as natural as taking care of a dog or cat, but it’s rewarding if done correctly.
You need to know how to raise an iguana.
Raising an iguana is simple once you know what it requires. You need to set up the correct habitat, provide a stable and healthy diet, watch for signs of health issues, and spend time with your pet daily.
Check out the rest of the article for more details.
To learn all about the animal, check out our iguana guide.
Table of Contents
The first place most new owners mess up is in their enclosure size. As babies, a 20 gallon (75.71 l) tank will do just fine.
At the bottom of this tank, you need to put rabbit or alfalfa pellets for a substrate.
Once the iguana reaches 18″ inches (20.32 cm) in length, they need to be moved to their pen.
Since iguanas reach up to 6′ ft (1.83 meters) in length, you’ll need a lot of space.
We recommend at least 12′ feet (3.66 meters) long, 6′ feet (1.83 meters) wide, and 6′ ft (1.83 meters) tall made with sturdy sides such as a chain-link material.
You should also bury the sides of the fence down 2′ feet (0.61 meters) if you’re keeping the iguana outside.
They are known to dig as well.
Iguanas are good jumpers and arboreal (they like to climb).
6′ feet (1.83 meters) tall is a must, and most owners will cover the top of the pen as well.
The same is true for the young iguana tanks.
Keep a secure top on it, or your pet may escape.
For temperatures, you need to keep four temperature marks in mind:
- Basking spot = 120° degrees Fahrenheit (49° C)
- Overall temp = 100° degrees Fahrenheit (38° C)
- Cool/hiding spot = 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C)
- Nighttime temps > 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C)
This is usually taken care of with a row of ceramic or incandescent heating lamps over the basking spot.
This will take care of the rest of the pen, depending on the size and ambient temperature of the surrounding area.
You may need to include other heat lights throughout the pen as well.
Don’t use heating pads or rocks as this may burn the iguana.
Iguanas also need a lot of UVB lighting.
You should include an equal amount of reptile-designed UVB bulbs above the basking spot.
This helps provide vitamin D for better absorbing nutrients.
UVB and heat should be kept on for 12 hours each day and turned off at night.
This helps the iguana with its natural day-night rest cycle.
The relative humidity of the pen should be close to 50%.
Use a hygrometer to keep track of the humidity.
If the humidity dips too low, spray down the substrate a couple of times per day or invest in a humidifier.
Cypress mulch or coconut fiber are good substrates for adults.
Just make sure no chemicals were used in its manufacturing.
Rocks, logs, trees, branches, and other climbing furniture should be provided for the iguana to interact with.
A water dish big enough to climb in should be put in the pen at all times.
Don’t have iguanas share a space.
The habitat is going to be the trickiest part of raising an iguana.
Compared to this, the diet is simple.
All you need to do is feed your iguana once per day.
Their herbivores, so you’re looking at a mix of all-natural greens.
Put the food in the pen for them to eat and graze on.
The next day, remove the old food and put the new food in.
The fresh food comes in this ratio:
- 70% dark leafy greens (collard greens, spinach)
- 30% veggies (cabbage, carrots, broccoli)
- Once per week fruits (mango, banana, strawberry)
A lot of owners also use a commercial or pet store iguana food.
This is quite healthy for them, and fresh food should still be the larger portion of the diet.
Some owners have a lot of success with 50-50 fresh foods/commercial food.
Take cues from your pet and how healthy it is.
Don’t forget to sprinkle a vitamin supplement for reptiles 1-2 times per week.
They shouldn’t need much more than this.
Watch For Signs Of Health Issues
A huge part of raising an iguana is making sure you watch our signs of health problems.
Everyone gets sick sometimes; it’s impossible to avoid.
But by being on top of these signs, your pet will get back to being healthy quicker with fewer complications.
Kidney Disease: This is caused by dehydration and too much protein in the diet.
Make sure you follow the recommended diet and provide clean water at all times.
Metabolic Bone Disease: This is a calcium deficiency.
Make sure you provide ample UVB and sprinkle the food with a calcium supplement 1-2 times per week.
Respiratory Infections: These breathing infections are caused by a habitat which is too cold and too damp.
Look for these general warning signs of illness as well:
- Decreased appetite
- Discharge in mouth or nose
- Retained shedding
- Lack of movement
- Injuries or lumps on the skin
- Trouble breathing
- Change in feces
Spend Time And Tame Your Pet
Taming your iguana is as simple as spending time around them and handling them.
At first, you’ll want to be in the same space as them to get them used to their presence.
Then, you’ll want to pick them up or pet them at least once per day.
Make sure you never come at them from behind or above.
They have a third “eye” on the back and top of their head, which senses changes in light.
This will activate their fight or flight instincts.
Do this at least once per day.
They don’t like to be overhandled, so be on the lookout for signs of displeasure.
We hope you found learning how to raise an iguana helpful.
These reptiles are big, and they take a lot of care.
But once you’ve got everything in place, their cool looks and personalities make them a great pet to own.
Just make sure you’re doing what you need to, and your pet will live a long and happy life.