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Iguana as a Pet: What You Should Know

Iguana as a Pet: What You Should Know

Thinking of getting a green or blue iguana as a pet? Great! Make sure you're fully prepared for the responsibility of reptil parenthood. Our Clarksville vets discuss what you need to know before adopting an Iguana lizard as a pet.

Iguanas are a popular choice for pet reptiles, but they demand a lot of time, care, and space. They need special attention for feeding and housing, can become quite large and strong, and may be hard to train, possibly becoming unfriendly if not handled regularly. Here are some key points to consider if you're thinking about getting an iguana as a pet.

Behavior and Temperament

To build trust and comfort with your pet iguana, it's important to regularly pick them up and hold them. This can be difficult because they frequently find human interaction odd and may oppose it. As a result, you must handle your iguana with caution and compassion.

Some iguanas prefer to climb on their humans, so if your pet iguana enjoys this pastime, wear protective gear. The tail of an adult iguana is strong enough to break a human bone. When handling them, be attentive to any signs of discomfort or aggression, especially if there are children or other pets around. 

Common Health Problems

Iguanas, like many pet reptiles, may have salmonella in their stomachs. So, always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your pet and avoid touching your face. Take particular measures if you have young children, seniors, pregnant women, or immunocompromised persons in your house.

Iguanas can be tamed with adequate daily care, but they have a strong self-defense drive and will bite, scratch, and whip their tails if challenged.

Dehydration can lead to kidney problems in iguanas. If you notice your iguana being lethargic, having body swelling, or frequent driving and urination, it's crucial to see immediate veterinary care. 


Fresh food is essential for an iguana's health, and a high-protein diet can lead to health problems such as kidney failure. Iguanas in the wild are strict herbivores who avoid ingesting animal protein, even insects.

In addition to a high-quality pelleted commercial meal, give your iguana some fruit and a calcium supplement. Furthermore, iguanas require constant access to fresh water. Follow your veterinarian's feeding recommendations to keep your pet at a healthy weight for his or her size.

Because iguanas ingest their food whole without chewing, everything you serve must be diced or shredded into tiny pieces.

Housing the Iguana

Iguanas can get really big, up to 7 feet long if you count their tail, and they usually weigh around 20 pounds. As a result, an aquarium or a tiny reptile enclosure is a very short-term residence for a baby iguana. This size often astounds individuals who begin with a small baby iguana as a pet.

Most of the cages you can buy in stores are too small for iguanas, especially because they like to climb trees. A suitable enclosure for a single iguana measures around 12 feet in length, 6 feet wide, and 8 feet tall. Many iguana owners prefer custom-built enclosures with ramps, shelves, and climbable branches. Many people may even transform a full room or a large closet into an iguana's habitat.

To digest its meal, the iguana requires a temperature of roughly 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat lamps, normally placed less than a foot away from basking ledges, can be used to achieve an ideal temperature. The iguana likes to bask at 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and its habitat should not be colder than 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

For light,  you should use special UVB reptile lights for 10 to 12 hours every day. If your iguana's home is big, mercury vapor bulbs work well. They can bask on the branches and shelves under these lights. 

Iguanas require at least 70% humidity in their surroundings. You can make your iguana's habitat more humid by adding a pool of water to the enclosure or using a mister. Misting your iguana twice a day is generally recommended to enhance humidity and preserve healthy skin.

The Pros and Cons of Keeping an Iguana

Here, we'll list some of the pros and cons you should consider before keeping an Iguana as a pet.

Pro: Lifespan

If your iguana is very stubborn, it can take many years to tame it. If you don't have the patience for this long process. If you don't have the patience for this long process, there are friendlier lizards to consider. You can try hand-feeding them to show you mean no harm. 

Con: Expensive To Accommodate

Iguanas are active during the day, which is great if you want to watch them. This included a spacious terrarium, the right lighting, humidity, and temperature, plus regular visits to a vet who knows about exotic animals. If you believe you will struggle to keep an iguana for the next 20 years, you should consider a different pet. 

Pro: Relatively Easy to Meet Their Diet

Iguanas eat leaves, fruits, flowers, and vegetables in the wild, and this entirely herbivorous diet must be mimicked in captivity. Iguanas do not drink much water in the wild because the greens they eat and the humidity in their surroundings keep them hydrated. We recommend consulting with your veterinarian for a more specific nutrition regimen for your pet iguana.

Con: Difficult to Train

If your iguana is exceptionally resistant, taming it can take YEARS. If you don't have the patience to wait so long, there are many more docile lizards available. Giving them food with your hand is also a possibility; this way, they will understand that you mean no harm.

Pro: They are Diurnal

If you enjoy observing iguanas, it's preferable if they're awake at the same time as you. Iguanas are a diurnal species, meaning they wake up with the sun. In the wild, they can be found basking in the sun on a tree branch.

Con: They Aren't for Children

Iguanas have strong jaws and may bite when they feel scared. Sudden movement can startle them, especially around restless toddlers. If an iguana feels threatened and decides to strike, its powerful tail can cause significant harm. So, if you have especially young children, you might want to hold off on the iguana for now.

Want to learn more about keeping an iguana as a pet? Contact Sango Veterinary Hospital today for more information.

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