- General Information
- Proper Caging and Environment
- Origin: Central &South America
- Habitat: Tropical Rainforest Areas
- Average Size: Up to 6 feet
- Lifespan: Up to 20 years
Green Iguanas, Iguana iguana
, originate from Central and South America. This lizard grows to a very large size. Average adult females attain lengths of 3-4 ft. Average adult males attain lengths of 4-6 ft. Iguanas are herbivores, meaning they eat only fruits and vegetables. These lizards tend to be very aggressive. Since iguanas grow to such a large size and are aggressive by nature, this species is not suited for most keepers, especially a novice. Green Iguanas are mainly arboreal spending most of their life in the canopy.
Proper Caging and Environment
Generally, these lizards should be kept in a wire, PVC coated cage
about 2 times the length of the lizard long and 4 times as tall. This shouldn’t be a problem until the iguana begins to attain a length of 2-3 ft. Iguanas between 1 and 2 ft. can usually be maintained in glass tanks of appropriate size. Once the iguana reaches 2-3 ft., more permanent housing should be considered. Adult iguanas can be housed in a cage with minimum dimensions of 4 ft. long x 4 ft. tall. There is no maximum size for an adult iguana cage, so if there is an empty room available, this would give the iguana ample space to live and thrive. Regardless, a custom enclosure will almost always be a must.
When iguanas are small (under 2 ft.), cypress mulch
can be used with great success. This bedding has many advantages such as:
Holds humidity very well
Looks natural and attractive
This bedding will often contain/harbor bugs called wood lice. These are very small and many people confuse these with mites. These bugs are 1mm long and have a silver-grey color to them. Mites on the other hand, which are very harmful, are the same size but are a jet black color and more rounded in shape. The wood lice are harmless to the iguana, and should only be a cause for concern if they begin to overrun the enclosure.
As the iguana grows larger than 2 ft. and a permanent enclosure is needed, newspaper is often the best way to go. It is cheap, odorless, and excellent for maintaining humidity. Cypress mulch can still be used, but if an entire room is being used as the enclosure this can become very expensive and time consuming to maintain.
Heat and Lighting
Green Iguanas require a daytime temperature of 85-105 degrees, and a nighttime temperature of 75-80 degrees. These temperatures can be achieved through the use of a heat lamp. Heat lamps are usually the best way to go because this setup allows for a more natural heat source (like the sun) and it lights up the enclosure, to a degree, for viewing purposes. You can even use different colored bulbs to simulate a day and night photoperiod. There are black/purple bulbs for nighttime heat and blue/white bulbs for daytime heat. The exact wattage needed will need to be determined by the owner, because everyone has different temperature preferences for their homes. Green Iguanas require a fluorescent light bulb in order to live and thrive. This type of light will allow the iguana to metabolize many enzymes and essential vitamins, etc. which help the iguana to survive, help the owner to view the tank, and brighten the iguana's color. Without the use of this light, the iguana will without a doubt come down with metabolic bone disease, which causes the bones of the lizard to twist and break easily due to improper calcium levels. This type of light can be utilized to provide the iguana with a photoperiod.
Iguanas are strictly arboreal. They require many, many branches to climb on in order to live. These branches should be of varying lengths with some being about the same width as the iguana. One or two of these branches should be placed directly under the heat lamp in order to make a basking spot for the iguana. The iguana should utilize this spot often.
Water should be provided in one way. Daily misting sessions should be provided in order to maintain proper humidity levels and to allow the iguana to drink. Green iguanas require humidity levels between 50 and 70%. Misting the food before offering it to the iguana will also keep the iguana hydrated.
This is the favorite part of iguana husbandry for most people. Iguanas are herbivores and should be fed a varied diet of fruits and vegetables. Suitable vegetables and fruits include:
Red leaf lettuce
As neonates and juvenile lizards, iguanas should be fed twice a day. As they grow larger and older, iguanas should be fed once a day.
A common problem for many iguana keepers is shedding. If the iguana is kept at inadequate humidity levels, the iguana will have trouble sloughing off its skin and sometimes the skin will harden and cause worse problems. This can all be avoided by misting the iguana two to three times daily.
If you have any questions or concerns about your green iguana, please call to speak with one of our reptile room employees at 717-299-5691 ext.1246.