To see iguana pictures see my iguana photo page1 to see what your iguana cage should look like or how to build it look at the iguana photo page2.
A good size tank to start out with for a baby iguana is a standard 30 to 50 gallon tank. As your iguana grows, it will probably be necessary to build or have built a custom cage. The standard for deciding on cage size is one and one half times the length of the lizard in length, two-thirds the length of the lizard in width, and the length of the lizard in height. We have found higher is better. Iguanas love to climb and love to be up high.
There are several things that can be used for cage bottom cover. Orchid bark, artificial turf, indoor/outdoor carpeting, newspaper, and alfalfa pellets are all useful for this. Bark or wood chips can tend to attract mites and other insects, so keep this in mind. Cedar chips can be toxic, so avoid using these.
Branches set up for climbing are a necessity. Iguanas are arboreal (tree-dwelling) lizards. The branches should be chosen according to the size of your lizard, and easy for them to climb and lay on. We do not recommend hot rocks. They are not a natural way for the iguana to absorb heat and they can cause serious burns. Hot rocks should never be used as a replacement for adequate lighting.
It is important that iguanas are kept warm enough to digest their food properly, and to fight off disease. Some type of thermometer should be used in the enclosure to keep track of the temperature. A basking spot should be provided that reaches between 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit at the closest point to the heat source. The heat source is usually a spotlight set up so that the iguana cannot burn itself by lying against the bulb. Heat tape, under tank heaters, etc. can be used to heat the air inside the tank to around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, the temperature can be allowed to safely drop to around the low 70's. Most people's houses are warm enough to provide this temperature range. If not, then ceramic lights work well for this purpose. They provide the necessary heat without the light. Sick or recuperating iguanas will need to have the temperature warmer at night also. Remember to follow directions on all heating equipment and light fixtures to avoid a fire hazard.
It has long been thought that full-spectrum bulbs are necessary for iguanas to produce Vitamin D3 that helps iguanas absorb calcium. Recently, studies have been done that prove that this type of lighting DOES NOT work to duplicate natural sunlight. In fact, in a study done by Dr. Fredric L. Frye, it was determined that you would need 6 to 8 of these lights (commonly called Vitalites) within a few inches of the iguana, 12 to 14 hours a day to have any effect at all. We also know of a university student who did her master's thesis on full-spectrum lighting for reptiles. She used living tissue samples for the study and came to the same conclusion as Dr. Frye. Studies have also been done to show that iguanas can absorb Vitamin D3 through a proper diet. Full spectrum lighting can give off light that LOOKS similar to natural sunlight, so it may be psychologically beneficial for your iguana, but if you are just buying the light for calcium absorption reasons, don't waste your money. Instead, if you can provide them as much natural sunlight as possible, along with a good diet, this would be a far better thing to do as well as cheaper. There is no replacement for the benefits that your iguana can receive from natural sunlight. It does wonders for their coloration and their overall "pep". Remember to always provide your iguana with some shade to get out of the sun if they wish, and to never bring them outdoors in a glass aquarium as the heat inside the tank will quickly rise to lethal levels. Iguanas like us like to sleep in the dark, so it would be recommended to get a black heat light.
What you feed your iguana will be directly related to their overall health and well being. Green Iguanas are herbivores, that is, they are plant eaters. Animal proteins, such as dog food, cat food, and various "people food" treats should be avoided completely if possible. Iguanas do tend to like junk food, like pizza, but it is not good for them, and feeding them allot of food like this can lead to kidney failure at a young age. If you do feed your iguana "treats", we'd recommend keeping it at a once per month MAXIMUM to be on the safe side. Kale, bok Choy, broccoli, cauliflower, bustle sprouts, and other cabbage-related vegetables should be fed only in small amounts. These vegetables can cause thyroid problems if they are fed to your lizard frequently. Spinach should not be fed at all to an iguana, because it binds calcium.
Iguanas require a diet that is high in calcium, low in phosphorous, and contains Vitamin D3. Greens should be the staple of the diet. By greens we mean, Collard greens, Mustard greens, Dandelion greens (you can pick these right out of your yard as long as they are not treated with pesticides and washed before feeding), Turnip greens, etc. Mixed vegetables, squash, zucchini, yams, raspberries & blackberries (high in calcium), bananas, and other fruits and vegetables or commercial iguana food can also be added, but the large majority of the diet should be greens. If your iguana is getting a proper diet than no extra vitamins really need to be added to the food.
Water & Humidity
We have also recently found out that while it is a good idea to provide a bowl of water in your iguana’s tank for humidity and soaking purposes, that if your iguana is drinking out of the bowl on a regular basis, chances are that the humidity in the tank is too low. Iguanas get most of their moisture from the air, so regular misting, or even better, a humidifier in the tank will help keep the humidity to a proper level. While in their enclosures, try to keep the humidity level between 95 and 100 percent. There are temperature gauges out there that also record humidity. It would be a good idea to invest in this type of gauge.
When you first bring your iguana home, allow it a week or so to become accustomed to its surroundings (acclimated). Then you can start getting it used to being handled and picked up. Start slowly, by first picking your iguana up, and holding it for brief periods every day. Pretty soon, it will become much calmer. We have found that talking softly to your lizard with a soothing, gentle tone while stroking their neck and sides helps to calm them also. How tame your iguana will become depends on how much time you are willing to spend taming it. Some iguanas will remain wary and aggressive all their lives. That is why you really need to take care in selecting a reasonably calm lizard to begin with.
It may be useful to get your iguana used to being on some sort of leash or harness. This is especially helpful to be able to take your iguana outdoors to be in natural sunlight. Many pet stores now sell harnesses specifically for iguanas. Get one that is sturdy, yet not harsh to the iguanas skin. Start out by putting the harness on your iguana indoors without the leash for brief periods at a time to get them used to it. You can then start attaching the leash and attempting to walk around (indoors) with them. They will probably completely freak out at first, especially when they reach the end of the leash, but this is normal. Be prepared and try to avoid entangling your lizard in the leash when this happens. After some time of working with them indoors, if they seem to be much calmer when on the leash, you can then bring them outdoors. They may freak out again once outdoors (all those sights, smells, and sounds!) so make sure your harness and leash is strong and properly attached. Most iguanas will get used to being on a leash after a while, some may never get used to the idea. We haven't seen an iguana yet that will walk on the leash (like a dog), but at least if they are on the leash, they can't escape and get into serious trouble!
It's a good idea to regularly trim your lizard's claws, especially during the taming process. We have plenty of scratches and scars on our hands and arms to prove how important it really is. Unless you enjoy razor sharp needles ripping your flesh, you should learn this technique right away. To do a good job, it usually takes two people. One person should hold the lizard with both hands, one around the neck and area in front, and the other around the area in front of the hind legs. The other person, using a reptile claw clipper (found in most pet stores now) then clips off the sharp pointed end on the claw. Sometimes you may end up cutting through the blood vessel. If this happens, wipe the claw with rubbing alcohol and dip in cornstarch to stop the bleeding.
You should also always be mindful of your iguana's tail. Don't ever pick up an iguana by its tail. They break easily, and although they will re-grow in time, they will never be quite as beautiful.
Iguanas are pretty hardy and not really prone to getting diseases if taken care of properly and fed the proper diet. You should visually check your lizard frequently for signs of illness. Anything out of the norm should be monitored closely. There are several diseases and disorders that they can get, which we won't be going into on this page. One thing we can tell you is that kidney failure is a very quick killer. If your iguana is showing signs of weakness, inactivity, excessive drinking out of a bowl, blank staring, and diarrhea, get them to a qualified vet immediately. If the vet says that they cannot see your iguana right away, then they may not recognize the signs of kidney failure. You may have to try elsewhere. We have been informed through an e-mail about the dangers of egg binding in female iguanas. This person's lizard ended up having to get a hysterectomy to save her life. Keep in mind that female iguanas can become egg bound even if the eggs are not fertilized. Talk to a vet or a knowledgeable breeder for more information. There are several books on the market that go into this and other health issues in great detail.
One important thing that we can tell you is to find a good veterinarian. By this, we mean find a caring, experienced vet who is qualified to treat reptiles. This is possibly the most important thing that you can do for your iguana. A veterinarian who knows nothing or very little about reptiles that is treating a sick iguana means possible misdiagnosis of the problem and a probable death sentence for the iguana. It would be a good idea to find a vet before purchasing your iguana. Unfortunately, even with the increase in iguanas and reptiles in general as pets, there aren't allot of qualified reptile vets out there, so you will have to do some shopping around.