Scientific Name: Iguana Iguana
Iguanas are native to many parts Central and South America. Iguanas
have become an invading species in some states of the US. Iguanas
are difficult animals to keep as they require a special diet and
housing requirements. Some people make the mistake of saying that
an Iguana is a good beginner pet, but that is far from the truth.
Iguanas should only be kept by an experienced reptile keeper and
thought should be given to if you have the space, time and money to
care for these large reptiles properly. If looking for a social
reptile, the Iguana may not be for you. While they are comfortable
around humans, many Iguanas prefer not to be handled actively. They
are not suggested around small children. If you would like a social
family pet, or are a beginner to reptile keeping and are looking
for a lizard, you may consider trying a Bearded Dragon or a Leopard
Iguanas can grow anywhere between 4-6 feet long and can weigh up to
20lbs, so be prepared to have a lizard the size of a small cat or
dog. Iguanas aren obviously male or female until they reach sexual
maturity. Sexual maturity is reached when the animal reaches 6-10
inches in length, which when cared for properly is normally around
1-2 years old.
Males show several secondary sexual characteristics. One of the
most easily identified is the large jaw muscles on either side of
the lower jaw, below the ear. These muscles produce large,
swollen-looking "jowls". Males have large, blocky heads, and the
jowls add to this effect. Males also have two fatty deposits on
their foreheads, behind the eye and above the ear. These also add
to the size and blocky shape of the head. Males also tend to have
longer dorsal spikes along their back, especially along the neck
area. Another indication that an iguana is a male is the large
pores that are visible along the inner thigh. These pores, called
femoral pores, are easily visible in males, and are often filled
with a waxy substance. Two other male characteristics are a
heftier, heavier body and a bulge near the base of the tail where
the hemipenes are located.
Females have an absence of male secondary sexual characteristics.
Their heads are smaller and more streamlined with a lack of the
fatty deposits behind the eyes and have less pronounced jowls. In
addition to having smaller heads, females also have small femoral
pores which do not develop waxy protuberances. Females tend to have
longer, slimmer bodies than males and lack the hemipenal bulge near
In captivity, if properly cared for, Iguanas can live to be 20
years old, though because of inexperienced keepers, many do not
live to reach sexual maturity. Be prepared to have a reptile that
will be with you for a bit longer than a pet dog!
Young Iguanas can be housed starting in a 20 gallon aquarium and
getting larger as they grow. Remember that your Iguana will grow to
4-6 feet and so will quickly outgrow any manufactured aquariums!
Youl have to start building a custom home immediately as they grow
very quickly! If you choose not to build a custom cage, you may
consider putting off a spare bedroom just for him as he will
quickly take it over as his own. Some people choose to let their
Iguanas have free roam of their homes, but if you take this route,
you will have to ensure it is Iguana proof. They love to put things
in their mouth, so coins, candy and any other small objects should
be removed. These animals are very clumsy, so he will likely knock
over everything within reach of legs or tail, so don have any
valuable or breakable objects in the area. They are arboreal, so
they will climb to high places if they are available.
For an adult, six foot Iguana, they need an enclosure that is 9-12
feet long, 4-6 feet wide, and at least 6 feet tall, just to give an
example of how large they get and their space requirements!
Iguanas, like most lizards, need full spectrum lighting providing
them with UVA and UVB lighting to help them metabolize calcium
correctly and to ensure proper bone development. Without it,
Iguanas can become extremely sick and die. Proper lighting can be
provided through fluorescent tubes which are specially made for
reptiles. This lighting should be provided for 12-14 hours and then
turned off so that the Iguana gets accustomed to a regular day and
Iguanas come from a tropical environment, meaning that they need to
be provided warm temperatures in their habitat. Daytime
temperatures should be kept at 80-85F while nighttime temperatures
can drop to 75-80F.
Basking spots should be provided for you