THE GREEN IGUANA
The Common Green Iguana is unarguably the most popular reptile kept in
the United States, and it is quickly recognized even by "non-herpers." As
name implies, the typical Green Iguana is colored varying shades of
green--from brilliant emerald to a more ashy gray-green. However,
coloration can vary depending on
where an individual originated from geographically, and color morphs do
(such as "blue" iguanas). The tail is ringed by black bands, and a row of
tooth-like scales runs from the nape of the lizard's neck and down its
Central and South America
Cage & Accessories:
Hatchlings and juveniles can start out in a 20-gallon "long" aquarium, but
outgrow these quarters. A full-grown adult needs a lot of room, and the
should be 6' x 6' x 4'. Iguanas are active lizards, and need a variety of
climbing areas (thick, sturdy branches propped up work well) and basking
rocks and ledges.
A pool large enough for the lizard to soak (such as a dish pan) will be
Live plants add a nice touch, but be prepared for the iguanas to snack on
the leaves, so first make sure they are non-toxic (pothos and spider plants
are two choices).
For substrate, newspaper is easy to clean and inexpensive. If you desire a
attractive alternative, try cage carpeting (like astroturf) or pea-sized
both are more labor-intensive to keep clean, but for a showcase cage, they
are worth the work.
65-72F nighttime low, 82-95F daytime high. To achieve this range, use an
heater to heat the entire cage to the low 80s. Add an incandescent spot
a rock or branch so the iguana can bask. Experiment with light bulbs of
wattages until the basking area reaches the mid-90s. The cage should have a
so the lizard can choose the temperature that is most comfortable at that
example, iguanas will bask under the light after eating a meal (this helps
with digestion), and then move to a cooler spot later.
Green Iguanas also need a full-spectrum fluorescent light to thrive in
Without it, they can get metabolic bone disease (MBD), because they cannot
process calcium (and specifically D3) without sunlight. These special
sunlight, and are sold by a variety of manufacturers under different names
(such as Duro-Lite
and Vita-Lite). If you are fortunate to live in warmer climates, it's a
to give your Iguana real "sun baths" outdoors when the weather is nice.
lights will do in a pinch, but nothing beats exposure to pure sunlight.
in through a window will not work, because glass filters out beneficial
rays in the
wavelengths lizards need. So, if possible allow your Iguana to bask outside
wire enclosure, or in a secure pen where he can enjoy the warm sun.
Iguanas are mainly herbivorous, although they will eat a small amount of
and this is not harmful to them. In fact, a varied diet is best. They will
flowers, and fruits of plants, and 90% of the diet should consist of a
up of one or more of the following greens:
romaine lettuce (not iceberg)
You can mix in some fruits as a treat:
The last 10% of the diet should consist of animal-based foods:
Two to three times a week, dust the crickets or "salad" with a calcium supplement
(Osteoform or Rep-Cal).
If this sounds like a lot of work ... it is. If you cannot commit yourself
and chopping just for a lizard, don't despair! There are a variety of
chows on the market which are very nutritious. Just pop open a can of
iguana chow, or pour some dried greens into a bowl, and Iggy is fed for the
day. Even if you normally
feed him salad, you can still sprinkle the chow over his food twice a week
sure he's getting a balanced diet.
The Green Iguana makes a great pet ... if you're prepare to take care of
heating, lighting, and food requirements ... and if you're prepared to
house a six-foot
lizard once it's full-grown. This colorful, gentle species will no doubt
continue to be the number-one pet lizard for a long time.
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