Green iguanas are still one of the most popular pet reptile species. They are farm-raised in Central and South America, and are still imported by the thousands. Iguanas can make good pets, but they require a very large cage and a considerable amount of equipment.
Zeigler Monster Iguana Diets are designed to be a complete diet for your iguana. Use the juvenile formula until your iguana is mature, at around three to four feet in length. From this point on use the adult formula.
As treats, you can give your iguana fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure this does not become a significant portion of your iguana's diet, as the Monster Diets are intended to be fed nearly exclusively to be a complete diet. You should limit treat foods to less than 10% of the total diet.
The best food to give them is dark green leafy vegetables, such as romaine or red-leaf lettuce, collard, mustard or turnip greens, etc. Many iguanas really enjoy sweet fruits, such as grapes, bananas or peaches. Offer these only sporadically. Citrus fruit should be avoided.
Juvenile iguanas will eat insects, but it is not necessary for them. Many iguanas will also eat dog food, but this is not good for your iguanas. It is designed for dogs, and the protein, calcium: phosphorus ratios, and many other aspects are completely inappropriate for iguanas. Kidney failure and other metabolic diseases often result from feeding dog food.
Hatchling iguanas are relatively small, but they are rather active. They are highly arboreal, and the caging provided should give them plenty of room to climb. Purchase the largest aquarium that you can afford when you buy an iguana. Even a 55 or 75 gallon aquarium is not overkill for a juvenile iguana.
Iguanas can reach six feet in length, so even the largest aquarium you can purchase will not be sufficient to house an adult iguana. Be prepared to build a cage or have a cage custom built for your iguana as it grows. An adult iguana should have at least ten square feet of floor space, with a cage height of about six feet. The more space you can provide, the better. Cages can be built out of wood, melamine or plastic, and should have plenty of sturdy screen or hardware cloth for ventilation. If the cage is glass fronted it will allow for better viewing. If you use wood for the frame or sides it is recommended that you use polyurethane to seal the wood to make it easier to disinfect.
Iguanas require a lot of equipment for a proper set-up. You will need to provide them with sturdy branches, heat lamps, full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs, a secure lid and large water bowls and food bowls.
Sturdy climbing branches are a must. They should run from the top to the bottom of the cage, and extend under the heat lamp and away from it. This will give your iguana a very good heat gradient. There are also some nice artificial vines that some reptile product manufacturers now offer. These will also work very well, and are easy to clean.
Heat lamps are required for green iguanas. They will spend most of their time basking. Provide a heat lamp on one side of the cage, with a temperature of around 95� F underneath the heat lamp. By placing this on one side of the cage you will create a good gradient, down to nearly room temperature on the end of the cage away from the lamp.
If your house gets too cool at night, supplemental heating may be necessary. Iguanas can handle a night time drop in temperature, but if the night time temperatures are below approximately 75� F then supplemental heating should be used. In small tanks, an under-tank heating pad may increase the ambient temperature enough. A heat lamp with a low wattage red light bulb is most appropriate. Hot rocks are completely inappropriate for iguanas, as it is difficult to regulate the temperature, and iguanas do not naturally climb to the ground to warm up. Thermal burns are a common occurrence when hot rocks are used.
Full spectrum fluorescent lighting is critical for iguanas. There are numerous full spectrum bulbs available. Look for a bulb that can provide some UVB light for your pet. See your local pet store for advice as to which bulb is best for you.
Iguanas must be given fresh water, and they like to soak in their water bowls. Smaller iguanas should be given a heavy water bowl, such as a ceramic bowl, as they tend to tip over their water. Give them a water bowl that they can fit in completely so they can soak in the bowl. For larger iguanas, large cat litter pans make very suitable water bowls.
Your iguana's cage should have branches reaching to the top of the cage, and they are good jumpers. Make sure that you use a secure lid with the enclosure.
You should also give your iguana a shallow dish for food. It is not recommended to feed them directly on the substrate, as they will tend to ingest some of the substrate, and you will waste food. Paper plates are easy to use, but they tend to get eaten by many iguanas. It is best to give them a shallow plastic or ceramic dish for food.
There are numerous choices for substrate for iguanas. Newspaper is probably the most suitable choice, although it is not too attractive. More aesthetically pleasing substrates include bark or mulch substrates or cage carpets. Try to provide a large bark size for smaller iguanas to avoid impactions due to accidental ingestion. If you use a cage carpet, do not use one that has loose threads around the edges, as these may be eaten by the iguanas. They may also get the loose threads wrapped around their toes or feet and can loose digits this way.
Corn cob and cedar bedding are completely inappropriate. Corn cob is very likely to lead to impactions, and cedar chips are toxic to reptiles. Sand substrates are less appropriate for iguanas, as they do better with a bark substrate that will keep the humidity higher.
Iguanas should be given fresh food every day as juveniles. Adults can be offered food daily or every other day.
Fresh water should be given daily. Juvenile iguanas should also be sprayed down a couple of times a day with a fine mist, as they do not always start drinking from water bowls right away. Any iguanas that are having shedding problems, probably due to low humidity, can also be sprayed down a couple of times a day.
If you are using newspaper or cage carpet, this will need to be cleaned every day or two. If you are using mulch or bark, spot clean this every day and replace as needed. In either case, you will want to disinfect the cage periodically. A dilute (~10%) bleach solution is good for this. Make sure that the cage is rinsed and dried before the iguana goes back in the cage.
As iguanas become mature, many of them become much more aggressive, especially male iguanas. Many veterinarians recommend having iguanas neutered, as this tends to make them less aggressive. Because large iguanas have powerful jaws and sharp claws, this recommendation should be taken seriously. An aggressive large iguana is capable of doing a lot of damage.
Female iguanas may be less likely to become aggressive, but they are prone to dystocia (egg-binding), even if they are not kept with a male. Female iguanas that have eggs but no place to lay them are likely to become egg bound. The best solution is to have your female iguanas spayed before they become reproductive. See a qualified reptile veterinarian for further advice regarding spaying or neutering iguanas.
Hatfield, J.Green Iguana: The Ultimate Owner's Manual. 1999.
For many natural history and reptile related references, check with www.zoobooksales.com
For help in finding a reptile veterinarian, check with the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians, at www.arav.org