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Iguana as a Pet: What You Need to Know

Iguana as a Pet: What You Need to Know

Iguanas can make excellent household pets, but they do require some specific care. Today, our Hopkinsville vets discuss what you need to know before adding a pet iguana to the family.

The iguana is one of the most popular pet lizards. They do, however, necessitate a significant time investment and a high level of care. They have strict feeding and housing needs that can grow to be quite large and are extremely powerful.

They can also be difficult to tame and may become hostile if not handled regularly. As a result, here are some things to consider if you decide to keep an Iguana as a pet.

Behavior & Temperament

Pet iguanas must be picked up and held regularly for them to learn to trust you and feel at ease in their surroundings. 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 humans, so wear protective gear if your pet iguana enjoys this activity. An adult iguana's tail is powerful enough to break a human bone. When handling them, keep an eye out for any struggle or hostility, especially if children or other pets are present.

Common Health Problems

Salmonella, which can be found in the iguana's digestive tract, is carried by all pet reptiles, including iguanas. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after spending time with your pet, and avoid touching your face. Take extra precautions if you have young children, elderly people, pregnant women, or immunocompromised people in your home.

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.

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.

Before acquiring a pet iguana, ensure that there is a veterinary office in your area capable of caring for exotic pets such as iguanas.


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.

Give your iguana some fruit and a calcium supplement in addition to a high-quality pelleted commercial meal. Iguanas also require constant access to fresh water. To keep your pet at a healthy weight for his or her size, follow your veterinarian's feeding recommendations.

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

Housing a Pet 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.

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.

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.

Pros & Cons of a Pet 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

To live a long and healthy life, iguanas require precise living conditions. They will need a terrarium large enough to accommodate their final size, as well as suitable lighting, humidity, and temperature conditions. Not to mention the costly visits to a veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals. If you believe you will have difficulty keeping an iguana for the next 20 years, you should consider another pet.

Pro: Relatively Easy to Meet Their Diet

In the wild, iguanas eat leaves, fruits, flowers, and vegetables, and this entirely herbivorous diet must be replicated in captivity. In the wild, iguanas do not drink much water because the greens they eat and the humidity in their environment keep them hydrated. A more specific nutrition regimen 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 like watching iguanas, it's best if they're awake at the same time as you. Iguanas are diurnal animals, which means they wake up with the sun. They can be found basking in the sun on a tree branch in the wild.

Con: They Aren't for Children

Iguanas have strong jaws and will bite if threatened. Iguanas can be startled by sudden or unexpected movements, and toddlers can be fidgety. If an iguana feels threatened and decides to strike, its powerful tail can inflict serious damage. So, if you have young children, you might want to avoid the iguana for the time being.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you have questions about caring for your pet, contact our Hopkinsville veterinary team today.

New Patients Welcome

Skyline Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Hopkinsville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (270) 886-6321