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Iguana as a Pet: What You Should Know

Are you thinking about getting your pet a green or blue iguana? That's fantastic if you're ready for it and have all of the necessary resources to prepare for a life of reptile parenthood. Our Rabun County vets discuss what you need to know before adopting an Iguana lizard as a pet.

One of the most popular pet lizards and exotic pets is the iguana. However, they require a significant time investment and a high level of care. They have severe feeding and housing requirements and can grow to be fairly large and are extremely powerful. They can also be tough to tame and may grow hostile if not handled regularly. Thus, here are some things you should be aware of if you decide to get an Iguana as a pet.

Behavior & Temperament

Iguanas kept as pets must be picked up and held frequently in order for them to develop a sense of trust and comfort. They frequently find human interaction strange and may even be opposed, which makes it challenging. You must therefore treat your iguana with care and compassion.

Wear safety precautions if your pet iguana enjoys climbing on people because some iguanas prefer to do so. An adult iguana's tail is powerful enough to fracture a human bone. When handling them, be on the lookout for any fighting or hostility, especially if there are kids or other animals around.

Common Health Problems

Salmonella can be found in an iguana's digestive tract, as it is in the majority of pet reptiles. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after petting your pet, and keep your hands away from your face at all times. Take extra precautions if you have young children, elderly people, pregnant women, or people with immune system impairments living in your home.

Iguanas can be domesticated if given the proper daily care, but they have a strong instinct for self-preservation and will attack if provoked.

Kidney disease, which is commonly caused by dehydration, is a common health issue for iguanas. If your iguana is lethargic, has to swell on its body, and is drinking or urinating regularly, take it to a veterinarian right away.


A diet high in protein can cause health issues like kidney failure in iguanas, which depend on fresh food for good health. The majority of iguanas in the wild are strict herbivores that don't eat any animals, even insects, for their protein.

Give your iguana some fruit and a calcium supplement along with a high-quality pelleted commercial meal. Additionally, iguanas need continuous access to clean water. Maintain a healthy weight for your pet's size by adhering to your veterinarian's feeding advice.

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

Housing the Iguana

Iguanas can grow to be up to 7 feet long when their tail is included, and they typically 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.

The majority of commercially available cages are insufficient for this tree-dwelling species. A suitable enclosure for a single iguana would be approximately 12 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 8 feet tall. Custom-built enclosures with ramps, shelves, and climbable branches are popular among iguana owners. Many people will even convert an entire room or a large closet into an iguana's habitat.

The iguana requires a temperature of about 85° Fahrenheit to digest its meal. Heat lamps, which are typically placed less than a foot away from basking ledges, can be used to achieve the desired temperature. The iguana prefers to bask at 95° F, and its habitat should not be colder than 75° F.

Use UVB reptile lights to offer adequate light exposure for 10 to 12 hours every day. Mercury vapor bulbs are appropriate for big enclosures or rooms. Your iguana will be able to bask in these lights thanks to the large branches and shelves in the enclosure.

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 & 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 cared for properly, Iguanas can easily live for more than 20 years. With commitment, there is no reason your iguana cannot live this long.

Con: Expensive to Accommodate

Iguanas require precise living conditions in order to live a long and healthy life. They will require a terrarium large enough to accommodate their final size, as well as appropriate lighting, humidity, and temperature conditions. Not to mention the expensive appointments with a veterinarian who specializes in 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

In the wild, iguanas eat leaves, fruits, flowers, and vegetables, and this completely herbivorous diet must be replicated in captivity. In the wild, iguanas do not drink much water because the greens they eat and the humidity keep them hydrated. A more specific nutrition plan for your pet iguana should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Con: Difficult to Train

Taming your iguana can take years if it is extremely resistant. If you don't have the patience to wait that long, there are plenty of other docile lizards to choose from. Giving them food with your hand is another option; this way, they will understand that you are not malicious.

Pro: They Are Diurnal

If you enjoy watching iguanas, it's best if they're awake at the same time as you. Iguanas are diurnal, which means they wake up with the sun. They can be found in the wild basking in the sun on a tree branch.

Con: They Aren't for Children

If threatened, iguanas will bite. Iguanas can be shocked by sudden or unexpected movements, and toddlers can be fidgety. If an iguana feels threatened and decides to attack, its powerful tail can cause serious injury. So, if you have young children, you may want to avoid the iguana for the time being.

Want to learn more about keeping an iguana as a pet? Contact one of our Rabun Animal Hospital clinics today for more information.

We Can't Wait To Meet You!

Rabun Animal Hospital is currently accepting new patients! Our wonderful veterinarians are dedicated to the health and happiness of Rabun County dogs, cats, and exotic pets. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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