Almost all problems related to keeping a green iguana as a pet result from either improper feeding, lighting or caging. Of all the reptiles kept as pets the green iguana is one of the most favored. The green iguana loves eating leaves and basking in hot temperatures. They are vegetarians and do not eat insects or mice – one mistake many owners make.
Iguanas need a large tank or other enclosure that will allow for his rapid growth – thirty to sixty centimeters per year. Iguanas tend to do much better when raised alone, without others in the same cage. Since iguanas are likely to ingest things that can make them sick or even kill them, it’s not a good idea to allow them to roam free in the house.
When choosing a floor covering for the iguana’s cage, it’s important to keep in mind that the iguana may chew on the covering and become sick. Newspaper works very well as a covering, but a piece of carpet is suitable as well. The carpet can be cleaned and disinfected, when necessary. Some people use alfalfa pellets instead. The rabbit food works well and is not toxic to the iguana. Do not use sand, gravel, shavings, or wood chips.
Having a good light is imperative for your iguana’s health. When possible, expose the iguana to real sunlight, as long as outdoor temperatures are at least 70 degrees. Black lights and fluorescent lights will suffice as a light source for your iguana’s cage but avoid plant grow lights which won’t work. Ultraviolet rays from the light should be given for ten to twelve hours per day and turned off at night. Keep the light about 18 inches away from the iguana, but no further.
The proper temperature for keeping an iguana ranges between 85 and 95 degrees, with temperatures dropping to no less than 75 at night. Keep a thermometer on the cage so that you can track the temperature. A lightbulb within a foot or so of the cage will keep it warm, but don’t put the bulb close enough to where a glass enclosure could become hot to the touch. Hot rocks are not recommended for iguanas. The iguana also needs a daily misting of the cage interior since moisture plays a big part in the health of the iguana.
Iguanas are herbivores and need to eat plenty of vegetables. Good choices include dandelion greens, spinach, parsley, watercress and collard. You can mix in a small amount of fruit, cut into tiny pieces, like apples, melons, strawberries, or apples. Be sure to include a large bowl of water – one that won’t tip over if the iguana climbs on it.
Iguanas are kept by hundreds of people, but sadly, many of these captured pets die because of poor diet or improper lighting. Read more about iguana care before deciding to purchase one as a pet.