Iguanas are one of the most popular reptiles purchased from pet shops today. This animal can grow anywhere from 4-6 feet in length, reaching a weight of 10-15 pounds. On average, they live 12-15 years in captivity, however they can live over 20 years if care for properly. Iguanas come from a hot and humid environment, and are active during daylight hours. As adults they are aggressive and territorial and will not hesitate to use their strong and powerful jaws, nails, or tail.
A juvenile iguana can reside in a 30-50 gallon aquarium, however, their rapid growth will cause them to outgrow this enclosure within several months. Enclosures come in many different sizes, shapes, and styles and may be made out of wood, glass, or plexiglass. The substrate should be easy to keep clean and hygienic. Newspaper works well and is most cost efficient, however, artificial grass, indoor-outdoor carpeting, or linoleum are excellent choices as well. Avoid sand, soil, and bark, as these substrates can lead to obstruction or impaction if your pet ingests them. Shallow food and water dishes should be provided, and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. It is important to provide your iguana with climbing materials such as branches, bark, rocks, broad limbs, or drift wood.
Iguanas need water to survive and should have it readily available. Iguanas obtain most of their water intake through the plant matter they consume, however, some iguanas enjoy drinking out of water dishes, or lapping water off leaves or other objects in the enclosure. Misting your iguana and it’s environment daily will help keep it hydrated and provide it water droplets to drink. Iguanas pass urine and stool in water and will use a large water dish as a litter pan. If used, the litter pan must be regularly and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to prevent infections.
Bathing your iguana is another good way for your iguana to receive water, and is a good habit for your lizard. Bathing should be offered in shallow, lukewarm (100 degrees Fahrenheit) water, 2-3 times weekly. Always supervise your iguana to prevent accidents. Remember, not all iguanas bathing. Some will swim around and enjoy it, others will panic.
Iguanas need to be provided with exposure to natural sunlight for at least 5-10 hours per week. When temperatures are over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, iguanas should spend daylight hours outside in a sunny location. Your outdoor enclosure must protect your iguana from wild animals and neighborhood cats and dogs, and your pet should not be able to escape. A wire mesh enclosure with a sturdy frame works well. Glass terrariums or enclosures should not be used as temperatures may climb to lethal temperatures even on cool days. Of course, don’t forget to provide food and water in the outdoor enclosure.
IGUANAS ARE AGGRESSIVE BY NATURE. ALWAYS USE EXTREME CAUTION WHEN HANDLING ANY IGUANA. Iguanas are wild animals and you must always treat them in a manner that respects the fact that they may be dangerous. Wear protective clothing (long sleeved shirts, etc.) Frequent and regular handling will help tame them. Iguanas can learn to accept those who handle them frequently. Hold juveniles 2-3 times daily for approximately fifteen minutes. Stroke the back and neck while holding, keeping finger tips away from sharp teeth and claws. This will help your iguana become accustomed to being picked up and handled
Iguanas are herbivores and should be offered a variety of dark leafy green vegetables, supplemented with a small amount of sweet and vegetable fruits and flowers. The bulk of the diet should be compromised of leafy green vegetables, such as, collard greens, mustard greens, parsley, dandelion greens, beet and turnip greens, escarole, spinach, and kale. Lettuces should be avoided as they offers little nutritional value. Other vegetables that include: green beans, snap peas, sweet peppers, and grated squash. Fruits, such as, bananas, apples, mangos, papaya are healthy but should be treated as a treat or supplement fo the greens. Iguanas should be fed daily. Offer food after heat lights have been turned on and the iguana has had a chance to warm up. Iguanas must not be fed animal proteins (meat, dog or cat food, monkey biscuits, etc.).
Lighting and Heating
Temperature plays an important role to your iguana’s long term and overall health. Iguanas are cold blooded and cannot regulate their temperature metabolically. They rely on their environment and the behavior of “basking” to regulate their temperature and hence their metabolism. Iguanas regulate their body temperature by basking in temperatures above 85 degrees, sometimes as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Daytime temperatures should range between 85-95 degrees with a basking site of 110-115 degrees. Nighttime temperatures should not drop below 70-75 degrees and a “hide box” in at 80-85 degrees for growing hatchlings. Iguanas should be provided fourteen hours of daylight, and ten hours of night light.
Heat for the basking site should be provided by a125-250 watt infrared “heat” light bulb. These are available at home and hardware stores. Plug the heat light into a lamp dimmer switch which will allow you to adjust the temperature in the basking site to the desired temperature. These too are available at hardware stores.
Use a florescent ultra-violet (UV) light source, such as the ZooMed Repti-Sun 10.0, available at your local pet store, to suppliment sunlight for the conversion of vitamin D. Under tank heaters or heating tape, sold at most pet shops, may be used to heat hide spots. They must only be used as a supplimental heat source and their temperature must be monitored. The use of a dimmer switch on these heat sources is encouraged as well.
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
Metabolic bone disease describes most disorders that cause a weakening of the bones or impaired functioning of the body’s organs. It is caused by an imbalance of calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D3. Proper diet and temperature ranges will help prevent MBD. Symptoms of this disease include swelling of the lower jaw, curvature in the tail or back (‘S’ shaped), the lower jaw may be shorter than the upper jaw. Radiographs will show thin, low density, curved bones. Metabolic bone disease is best avoided with proper diet and correct temperature ranges in the iguanas environment.
Kidney (Renal) Disease / Failure
Kidney disease is common in captive iguanas due to improper diet and lack of water or humidity. External signs are anorexia, weight loss, swollen abdomen, dehydration, loss of muscle tone, and eventually lack of elimination. However, some iguanas may not show any signs, and act healthy even two weeks before their kidneys fail. Your veterinarian can check blood levels of the phosphorous and calcium in your iguana to try to prevent kidney failure. If caught early enough, treatment would consist of diet and environment improvements. A plant-based diet, access to water and frequent misting helps prevent kidney failure.
Iguanas are susceptible to both internal and external parasites. A parasite is an organisms that lives in or on another living thing. Internal parasites are more difficult to diagnose. They produce microscopic eggs which pass through your iguanas feces. Fecal parasite exams should be performed routinely for newly acquired reptiles. The specimen provided should be fresh, within 24 hours, and needs to be refrigerated or kept in a cooler on ice. A negative finding on a fecal exam means, NO PARASITES DETECTED IN THE SAMPLE SUBMITTED. It does not necessarily mean your reptile is free of parasites. It is a good idea to test a few times with negative results in order to ensure your iguana is without parasites.
External Parasites, most often mites may be found on iguanas. These mites suck blood and may appear as bright red, black or dried blood in Gcolor. They are often found roaming the body, tucked under the edges of scale around the eyes, ears, or other skin folds. Mites are difficult to eliminate. Treatments sold at pet shops are generally ineffective. Dilute solutions of 1% – 2.5% carbaryl are effective as are some permethrin products used for scabies in people (Elimite). These products should be only used under the guidance of a veterinarian. The environment must be treated as well or the mite infestation will recur. Remove all organic substrate and treat all items in the enclosure. Boil rocks, bake wood, and bleach bowls and the enclosure.
730 thoughts on “Care and Feeding of Iguanas”
I have an iguana. He has developed a blackspot under his eye and his eye is swollen and pink around the outside of his eye. What is this and how do I treat it?
Changes in color of your iguana’s skin typically indicate that the skin has been damaged or that there is a problem, most often an infection, under the skin. It would be best if you took your green friend to an experienced reptile veterinarian. There are several in Illinois but I’d recommend Stephen L. Barten, DVM, Vernon Hills Animal Hospital, 1260 South Butterfield Road, Mundelein, IL 60060 Tel: (847) 367-4070. You may find one closer here: http://herpvetconnection.com/illinois.shtml
I just got my pet iguana and its enjoying my home. My iguana is pooping black so I’m sure thats normal. He’s very curious about things. Other then that he’s a good pet!
The fecal portion of a normal iguana may be a variety of colors from tan to black. So, your friend may be normal. It’s a good idea to take your new iguana to a veterinarian knowledgeable in reptiles for a post purchase exam. Bring a fecal sample with you so they can check for intestinal parasites.
Mine is too he so awesome he is not aggressive yet and hope he don’t get aggressive.
Are the compact cocconut bricks ok to use for iguana bedding? If not what would i use and why would my iguana be depressed?
I had the same problem with my baby iguana when i 1st got him he seemed depressed didnt like cage wldnt eat. I was advised they are social animals they like having other iguanas with them. So i bought another iguana, got a bigger cage with lights, and a big enough water supply they can get in dish and they both love it.
I would argue with that. Young iguanas coexist peacefully but that typically changes once they reach sexual maturity.
The first few weeks are difficult for a young iguana. Most are bred in Central or South America. They are boxed and shipped to a wholesaler, who may or may not keep them at temperature, they are boxed up again and shipped to a retailer who, once again, may or may not have an appropriate environment, and then to their new home. This journey may take days or many months to complete. It should come as no surprise that the little guys are stressed. Adding the stress of another iguana may not be the best answer.
The best thing you can do is provide a good environment, offer hide spots and a good diet. They will come around in a few days.
I just got my iguana a few weeks ago,. I fed it lettuce and carrots for a few days until I found out it wasn’t a good idea. I switched to leafy greens, graded squash, and carrots. Now it hasn’t touched it’s food in two days. Should i just be patient? I think heating is correct. I have 30 gallon aquarium.
Give him some time. They like to eat “junk food” as much as we do. It may take a few days for him to warm up to his new diet.
Thank you, my tanks running about 100 degrees top 85,90 bottem is that ok?
Should be great. Watch his behavior, if he’s too hot he’ll act agitated and cling to the cold side, if he’s too cold he’ll stay in the hot spot.
i have an iguana that iv had for a few years but we cant care for him the way we use to because we have a daugter thats a year old.. so do u or anyone else no where i could sell him to a pet store or sell him to sombody.. we want him to go to someone whos going to take care of him the way he should be cared for..
Hopefully you still read this. I have a huge problem and no one to help me. I have a 12 year old male iguana. 5 days ago he was nice and healthy. Eating kale and jumping on me when I went in the cage to feed him and and my female iguana that is also 12. Today 12/28/12 he is barely clinging to life. He refuses to eat. I brought him in the house and had him soaking in warm Pedilyte and fed him baby food with an eye dropper. When I brought him in the house he had a large amount of clear liquid come flowing out of his nose twice. I have never seen him do this. I am not sure if he is hibernating or if he is on his last days. Have you ever heard of this. Thank you .
Sorry to take so long to answer your question. I hope your iguana is doing better.
I don’t know of any specific disease or problem that would cause those signs. I suspect the cause is something significant. If there is a veterinarian that see reptiles you should have him seen. If not, find a veterinarian that will look him over and we can do a phone consult to help him / her.
I will be in the office tomorrow (12/31/12) till noon California time.
Best of luck! Dr. J
Melody again. My baby iguana jumped from my shoulder to the ground and went plop and he doesn’t seem to be injured but he hasn’t eaten since the fall. He is approx. 14 inches long. Should they eat twice a day? Or only once?
Sorry for the slow reply and I hope your green friend is doing better. If he is still not eating he should be seen by a reptile veterinarian.
My iguanas have been hiding behind a brick in the corner for four days. They have not eaten. I think there gona die.
Got my temps and humidity right . No UV yet. Using a night red bulb with 100 watt basking light .I’m turnin the basking light off at night. been around the cage lot checking there temps. Maby I’m killing them with attention!?!?!
Sounds good to me!
They do better with attention than not.
You might buy a couple of lamp timers to turn your lights on and off but don’t give up on checking temp’s!
Check your temperatures (110*-115*F in basking site, 80*-85*F air temp). If those are good it may be that they feel like they need to get out of the open. Try adding some “cover” so that they can bask and eat without being exposed.
Hello. I have had my iguana for about six months. She is a little over a year old. Within the last two weeks she has been eating the majority of her food right before bedtime. Daytime temps are 90 to 95 and night time is 80. Should I take her food away at night? Cool it down at night?
No. I’d have you leave it just as it is (providing you have a hotter “basking area” during the day (see above). I’m assuming that you offer food all day.
I love iguanas!
My boyfriend is recently interested in purchasing an iguana and this site was very helpful and informative. Im a big fan of the Avian Exotic Animal Hospital and i would like to thank you!
Thanks! Let’s take a look at him when you get him!
It might just be a scratch but take him in to the vet to make sure
Should my iguana poop white?
The short answer is: Yes, it is normal for your iguana to have white material in its droppings (not necessarily “white poop”).
Reptiles, like birds, produce uric acid as the primary waste product of protein metabolism (mammals produce urea). The uric acid is the white powdery part of their urine. Furthermore, reptile kidneys are unable to concentrate urine to conserve water, as do birds and mammals. Instead reptiles reflux the urine, produced by their kidneys, into their colon where needed water cam be reabsorbed. When the reptile empties it’s colon / rectum it passes the combination of both feces and urine, some of which is the white solid / semi-solid uric acid.
Hello, my iguana also has pooped white. Its not just particles but its kind of runny. What does that mean? and is it normal or healthy? Please let me know im worried!
The white in bird and reptile droppings (including your iguana) is uric acid, part of its urine.
Birds and reptiles have a common area where their intestine, urinary tract (both ureters and bladder) and reproductive tracts end called a cloaca. Therefore, when they empty the contents of their cloaca you get a mixture of urine (the clear liquid and the white chalky to slimy uric acid) and feces.
I got an iguana and the pet store gave me crickets to feed him. Is that good???
No, iguanas are strictly herbivorous. As is often the case, your pet shop has proven not to me a good source of advise for the care of your iguana. Lots of good information here!
Im feeding him kale and collard greens
My little iugana has one of his eyes closed and can’t open it. It looks like when he shed his skin, it came down over his eye. What can i do to help him?
Warm water soaks (use a thermometer and soak in water that starts at 100*F) will often soften and aid in the shedding of retained skin. If not or if there is redness or discharge from the eye your friend needs to see a veterinarian.
Shedding problems are most often caused by low environmental temperatures. Use a reliable thermometer and set basking temperatures at 110*-115*F and ambient air temperatures at 80*-85*F. Misting the cage (and iguana) twice daily will help in dry climates.
I would like to know what to do when your iguana is about 1 year old and he doesn’t like fruit / vegetables. Someone told me to try pinkies even crickets but still not good. I have to force feed him. Can you tell me something to try?
Please do not feed your iguana insects or other animal protein foods. Iguana’s are herbivorous and (although they like eating high protein foods) live short lives and suffer from renal (kidney) failure when fed animal proteins.
Most iguana’s that do not eat well are being kept in environment with inadequate heat. Make sure your green friend has a “basking site” that is 110*-115* F and an ambient air temperature of 80*-85* F. during daytime hours, with a 10*F drop in temperatures at night.
Hello my name is Tracey Smith and bought an iguana about two weeks ago and when i got him he was very active and now he hardly eats or does anything I can pick him up with no problems I need to know what to do. Can you please tell me what to do.
Most problems of inactivity and those concerning not eating are rooted in the iguana’s environment being too cold.
Make certain that the temperature at the hottest spot under your green friends heat source is at 115*F and that air temperature in his enclosure during the day is 80*-85*F. Further I’d recommend an under tank heater and a hide box with the surface of the glass (over the heater) kept at 85*F.
Get yourself a good digital infrared thermometer (~$45. Here is a link to the product we recommend: http://tinyurl.com/3mt5nso ).
If he does not rally with correction of the environmental temperature you should make an appointment with a competent reptile veterinarian.
Hello my name is Josh an I have an iguana. It is about a year an half old and it has or had metabolic bone disease (MBD). He has some what recovered from it but his rear legs are still swollen. Will they go down after time or is there somethig I have to do to help. He has lost most his teeth an will they grow back the iguana has been eating soft foods an chopped greens the iguana seems OK but I’m still worried for my yoshi can you please help.
Although they may always show some signs of having MBD your friend’s legs should become more and more normal as his bones remodel themselves (about 20%-30% of his bone is replaced every year and with growth, the portion of his legs that are not normal as the portion that is new will increase
Iguana’s replace lost teeth if the underlying jaw bone was not damaged too much.
Make sure your environment temperatures are correct and that you have a good UV-B light source.
If he does not seem to be moving in the right directions he should be seen by a veterinarian.
Well I’m a beginner of owning a iguana and i just want to know if a heating pad is good for a cage instead of a heat rock?
I’m not a fan of hot rocks!
The most important heat source is a heating light (I’d recommend a 125-250 watt clear (white) infrared heat light (not the red one) plugged into a dimmer switch so that you can adjust the temperature in the “basking site” to 110*-115* F. The setting you need will change with season and the temperature in your house so be sure to recheck and adjust your temperatures regularly.
I’d also recommend an under tank (stick-on) heater. These are sold specifically to heat reptiles. I’d recommend one that covers 1/4-1/3 of the terrarium and set the temperature (again use a lamp dimmer switch) to 80*-85*F.
Hi my name is Maribel. I have a barded dragon lizard. It seems like its gut is coming out from where it goes to the bathroom. What do think it is? It’s swollen and purple.
I’m guessing you have a Bearded Dragon.
The tissue coming out of it’s vent could be several things: male reproductive tissue (hemipene), female reproductive tissue (oviduct), cloaca (the chamber that the intestine, ureters and reproductive tracts empty into just inside the vent), intestine, or bladder. None of those thing hanging out of the vent is good. This is one for a qualified veterinarian !!!
Do iguanas usally change colors like the chameleon does?
Iguanas get lighter and darker in color with changes of temperature (darker if cold, lighter if warm) and they get darker if they are angry or frightened.
Neither iguana or chameleons change color to match their environment (as do octopus).
Dr. Jenkins, I recently got 2 pet iguanas, am I sitting on a time bomb or can 2 iguanas be cordial if tamed correctly? I’m also curious to know why you don’t like the red lights because that’s what I use.
If they got along it would be the exception to the rule. Mixed pairs are better than two males or two females but even a male and female may not get along. That said, I’ve had a handful of clients over the years that managed multiple iguana households.
Little hatchlings get along fine so if they are small you have some time to se how their relationship develops.
My baby iguana won’t eat anything I try feeding it with all kind of vegetables. I need a little help.
As per my response above, most of these problems arise from too cold an environment.
If the little guy has not eaten in a few days, do some warm water soaks first (start with water at 100* F and check the temperature with a thermometer.
You mean warm up the vegs? Then my iguana will eat?
No . . . Warm up the iguana and then it will eat its vegetables.
I just got. a 4year old female iguana I gave her some fruit.cocktail. the next day fresh lettutes. And bannanas she’s fine
She won’t have a problem eating those foods once or even once in a (long while). If she eats that kind of diet all the time, however she will not live a long healthy life.
Can iguanas eat tomato leaves please does anyone know
The tomato belongs to the nightshade family. Like many other nightshades, tomato leaves and stems contain atropine and other tropane alkaloids (including one named tomatine) that are toxic if ingested. Ripened fruit does not contain these compounds in levels that are toxic.
A single bite of a tomato leaf would not likely harm your iguana. Feeding tomato leaves, however, is not recommended.
I just bought a iguana. I need to know its sex. How do you tell the difference?
As a hatchling it is difficult to tell male from female iguanas without having them probed for the presence of hemipenes. This procedures should only be done by an experienced veterinarian or herpetologist. If you are in San Diego, the procedure is part of your initial examination.
How do you handle the iguana without being bitten?
When you lift an iguana restrain it over its shoulder, holding its front legs back along its chest and restrain the back of the iguana at its pelvis holding its back legs against its tail. Large iguanas should be restrained in a heavy towel or light blanket. An adult iguana can give a dangerous bite. Be very careful and if you have questions get help from an experienced veterinarian, herpetologist or pet shop personnel.
Hi, I just got an Iguana that looks full grown. How can I tell how old it is and if its a male or female? Its about 2.5 feet long. Also we want to put a vest/leash on it. Do iguanas feel comfortable with that.?
I’ve had my iguana for 11 years now but for about a week now she has been drinking a lot of water, doesn’t want to eat, and poops a lot. Her weight feels normal and just by looking at her I think she looks normal but this change in eating habits is concerning me. Should I be worried?
There may be many reasons for your iguana to drink more than normal, however some of those are significant problems and I’d suggest having her seen by a competent reptile veterinarian They will want to check her kidney function by running a blood test. Hopefully, your friend has just developed a bad habit.
I have a 10yr old iguana who ate a parakeet about 3months ago. Now he has not pooped in about 2 weeks and his stomach is huge. What can be done to help him? Thanks so much.
It is hard to believe that the bird is the cause of your iguanas problem if he ate the bird 3 months ago. It is possible though.
You really need to take him to a veterinarian who can do a good physical exam and take some x-rays to see what is going on with his stomach (if that is in dead what is large. If you do not have a qualified reptile veterinarian in your area, find a veterinarian willing to work with you and we can do a phone consult to help with any questions or problems that come up.
Best of luck, Dr. J
Hi, I have a eleven year old Iguana, he seem to be doing fine except for something I noticed about two months or so ago. His mouth is slightly open and sometimes even the tip of his tongue shows. He never had this before. He is in the same cage 6×4 in size. Can he have some kind of mouth disease?
Some iguanas do sit with their mouths open. We often see it when they are basking in the hot sun or under a hot basking light.
There are some medical problems that may cause a similar behavior, however, and it would be wise to have his mouth checked.
My iguana seems to sit with his mouth open under a basking light (granted we just got back from vacation), and he sneezes white fluids about his cage ( I understand that’s his way of getting rid of salt in his body)… I wonder if he has to much sodium in his diet, or is not getting enough fluids…. hes nice bright green and blue around the mouth and neck area…. seems very alert and exploitative in his terrarium….any suggestions?
Mine is doing the same thing. He’s just a baby. He won’t eat, either and is really skinny. I’m so worried. He has ruffles around his mouth, but they go away and come back. I’m not sure if he’s shedding or if he has mouth rot. I don’t know what to do.
If your little iguana is still behaving this way you need to have it seen by a veterinarian.
Make sure also that his environmental temperatures are correct and that he has access to fresh food and water.
The open mouth posture is pretty common for basking iguanas. Still check your basking site temperature and make sure it is between 110*-115*F.
As you said, Iguanas have “salt glands” and excrete excess salt into their nasal passage then sneeze it out their nose. If it is salt that your friend is sneezing there will be clear to slightly opaque crystalline material in Flash’s cage / terrarium. This is normal and will vary with the salt content of his vegetables. It’s not a problem as a general rule.
I heard from 1 of my fiends that iguanas are very slow moving and lazy animals… Is that true or are they active and as fast as wall lizards?
My iggy doesn’t eat and is still sleeping. It slept for 2 days. It is about 6~10 inches almost 1 month. It looks like it’s all bones. It usually slept on a rock or its artificial plants but it sleeping on the bedding I’m sick worried!!! PLEASE HELP !!!!!!!!!
Your iguana needs to see a veterinarian. If you are in San Diego take him to the VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center (in the same building as our Hospital) and they will assess him and page me. If you think he can wait till morning I’m sure we can work you in between patients tomorrow.
If you are not in San Diego, you need to find a qualified veterinarian and have it seen as soon as you can.
In the mean while, warm the iguana to 90*F and give him water one drop at a time (in his mouth).
Best of luck, Dr. J
My flash has been sneezing, I’d think its a cold but dont know what it is.
One possibility is that the foods you are feeding have a higher salt content. Iguanas have “salt glands” and excrete excess salt into their nasal passage then sneeze it out their nose. If it is salt that your friend is sneezing there will be clear to slightly opaque crystalline material in Flash’s cage / terrarium.
Your iguana needs to see a veterinarian. If you are in San Diego take him to the VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center (in the same building as our Hospital) and they will assess him and page me. If you think he can wait till morning I’m sure we can work you in between patients tomorrow.
If you are not in San Diego, you need to find a qualified veterinarian and have it seen as soon as you can.
In the mean while, warm the iguana to 90*F and give him water one drop at a time (in his mouth).
Best of luck, Dr. J
Our 3ft green iguana is new to us and sleeping in cool water, and it is shedding time. I didn’t think they liked cool water, except maybe to drink. I don’t know what to expect during this shedding time…would you go over the normal shedding process and symptoms.. and reasons they might seek to soak in cool water.. unless he just fell asleep after I gave him new clean warm water to rinse off the previous poo bath water..
Green Iguanas like water. They can swim very well and are often found around water in the wild.
In your case, your iguana likely got cold while in the water causing its metabolic to drop. Depending on the size of your water bath, you can use a heating pad (like an under tank heater sold in the reptile department of the pet shop) or an aquarium heater covered with a large stone or flat ceramic tile to keep your water warm (80*-85*F). For large animals I would recommend a piglet heating pad (I like the Stanfield brand sold here: http://tinyurl.com/4ypvr42 ).
If your iguana’s diet and husbandry are good they should shed their skin perpetually. This is because they shed in orderly progressive steps starting from their face and moving to their tail. By the time the tail is shedding the face should be starting to shed again. If your friend is not shedding at this rate its environment is likely too cold.
Our water company is going to add ammonia to our drinking water. I usually keep a kitty litter pan in the tank filled with water that he usually goes to the bathroom in and occasionally he swims in. Will this hurt the iguana or will I need to treat this water.
My guess is, your water company is adding the ammonia to balance the pH of your drinking water. In that case, the water may be better than it was before.
If you are worried about chemicals in your water, a simple carbon / floss type of filter will remove the chemicals in your water. These come in many forms from those that are not attached to your pipes or sink (such as a Brita pitcher filter) to those that attach to the end of your sink faucet (such as Pur filters) to under sink and whole house filters. One step up would be a Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter, that make water much as most filtered bottled water.
I probably should have mentioned that I have a water softener also. Don’t know if that makes a difference, In the newspaper it said the water could be harmful to fish and Tap Water Removal could be added to aquariums so that made me wonder about the water I put in the kitty litter pan. I also keep a dish that I put bottled water for him to drink out of but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t drink the water in the pan.
They are doing this for disinfecting. It is called chloramination.
Many water districts are changing from chlorination to chloramination. Public health officials tell us that these chemicals are safe for mammals to drink, and dangerous to “fish and reptiles.” Here is more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chloramination
If it were my water I’d get a RO filter for drinking water and water for the iguana.
Do you think a product called Tap Water Removal woul be safe to use to remove the ammonia ?
I’m not worried about safety but you should use a product labeled to remove chloramine.
My juvenile iguana has a growth, looks like a pimple, between it’s eye and nostril. I have posted pictures at http://themonkeyland.net/iguana Also, the nose area scales are kind of white and have been that way for months. I am in a very small town about 4 hours away from a vet. Could it be a fungus and if so should I apply anti fungus cream?
Your green friend’s lesion appears to be an abscess. It is likely secondary to trauma that occurred months ago.
Make sure your husbandry is spot on (see above) and try to “hot pack” (you can hold a warm wet wash cloth against his face) and hope it open and the hard “kernel” of pus comes out. You may need to get one of your local veterinarians to get you some antibiotics. We do consulting. Find a small animal veterinarian you can communicate with and have them call for a consult.
Hey Dr. J,
I love how much you have helped me, its fantastic! I have a 2 foot long iguana that I got in October last year. He/she was a hatch-ling. It was in just terrible condition when I got it. It was just sad. All the skin on his back was like “crusty “, was missing a finger, and half of his tail gone. Out of all the other ones i picked him, because it pissed me off how Petco will let this happen. I know I should of adopted one, but I didn’t. Well I first put him in a 35 gallon tank and healed him up! His front right leg still had a finger missing, but the “crusty” parts on him were gone, and some of his tail grew back! We bonded very well. I would take him out of his tank everyday and play with him. For Christmas I got a 7′ tall 4′ wide and 4′ deep cage, and when I’m home I shut his room door and leave open his cage so he has freedom in my room some times, but he is very defensive about his cage. When I get his food dish he gets all big, and when i try to hold him, he will whip me sometimes and not co-operate. When I finally get him out of his cage, he turns into an angle, and will almost be cuddly. I walk around the house with him on my shoulder and he never jumps off me. Also anybody can run up and pet him and he is very nice with that. It’s just the cage problem.PLEASE HELP?
Adult iguanas, especially males, are aggressive and protective of their space. The behavior you are seeing in your green friend are “normal.” The time that you can allow your iguana to ride around on your shoulder is coming to an end as well.
You can train your iguana to come out of his cage by rewarding the behavior with food or a pool of water to soak but if you must take great care and protect yourself if you must physically remove him. Wear gloves, use a large snake hook to lift him at the point just behind his arms or use a blanket and wrap him as you lift him.
Iguanas are intriguing animals but PLEASE do not forget that they are primitive animal with very simple brains. If something threatens or frightens them they react violently and they have the ability to do tremendous damage. I have had two very bad iguana bite that caused severe damage to my fingers, one that left one side of my right thumb without sensation. I had a client that lost the use of three fingers on her right hand and another that was bit in her face and required repeated plastic surgeries to repair the damage.
I have pet shop and I want some advice about inguana. Some of the inguana don’t have green colour but black. and is not good in health. I feed them vegetables and I give extra calcium, but I still lose some. In our country we do t have any veterinary for reptiles. also we have heater lamp and uv lamplight. What can I do to help.
The black crusty skin on the hatchling iguanas is caused by their being with our adequate temperatures and husbandry and resultant skin infection. Many of these will resolve with proper care and correction of the underlying problems.
More importantly, this is a sign that your supplier is not taking care of these young animals while they are in their care and or they are buying them from a source that is not taking proper care of them. I would recommend that you find another supplier if they cannot supply you with healthy animals.
Thanks for advice. Unfortunately most of the iguana died.
Hi my name is mark recently acquired an iguana he is about 18 inches he eats a lot and what I’m wondering is how often should he poop thank you so much
Most iguanas that are fed daily will pass stool daily as well.
Iguanas like to use a pan with a small amount of warm (95*-100*) water as a litter pan. If you offer him a litter pan there is a good chance he will use it.
Hi I am Lorraine, Yesterday I found this lizard on my back porch just sitting there on the railing, I don’t know what to do? How much do Iguana cost? He is very well mannered and very handsome.lol. I let him sleep in my home last night, today i must find out what to do with him. I don’t want to just give him to animal control. Any suggestions?
Start by posting a “found” add on Craig’s List and your local paper to see if you can find the green guy’s owner.
I have a juvenile iguana. I have had him for about 2 and half weeks now. He has been doing great, but all of a sudden yesterday he started running and jumping into the glass cage that he is in. Did I do something wrong or is there something that I can do to stop this behavior before he hurts himself. I have him in a 30 gallon tank and I am getting ready to move him to a 55 gallon tank. I am hoping that helps. I am hoping to keep him in his bigger tank for a few months and then move him to a tank big enough to house a full grown iguana. He is just too small for that big of a tank right now and he can get out so I have to wait. I have all of the lights that he needs. He has a variety of stable foods to eat, plus the occational treats. I also have dried juvenile food that you add water to and it gets soft that I purchased at the pet store that I bought him from. I don’t want to lose this little fellow. I have really become attached to him and I would appreciate any help or advice that someone might be able to give me. Please, serious replies only. Thank you
Couple of causes for this type of behavior include 1) The iguana seeing its reflection in the glass of the tank (more common with adults), 2) Tank too hot (check temperatures with a thermometer and watch basking behavior). 3) “Frightening” activity in area around enclosure (people, other pets, etc.). And, 4) lack of hiding spots / environmental cover.
Sit back and watch your green friend and you should be able to figure out what’s up !!!
Hey, Im getting two pet iguanas I got a tank for them and the lighting source I need. I was wondering what else I could get for the tank and what to put at the bottom.
Read “Care and Feeding of Iguanas” for more details but in answer to your question: 1) You need a stick on “under tank heater” that will heat the floor under your hide box and 2) you need a hide box for your guy(s) to hide in. 3) I’d recommend that you keep your iguana(s) on news paper or another flat paper (butcher paper, colored craft paper etc.).
Not one of your questions, however, I’d warn you against having two iguanas unless you plan on caging and maintaining them separately. They get along pretty well as hatchlings but that is rarely true for adult animals.
I have an adult male green iguana. He is approximately 5 years old. We have noticed some changes in him over the past four weeks. First, he had a crusty film on his mouth that we could wipe off. He was still eating and did not act like it bothered him. I thought that he may have just scratch his mouth and the film was from his injury. We cleaned the area 2-3 time as day as needed. The second issue we are having is we just got back from vacation, and now his eyes are very swollen. There is no discharge from his eyes. We did add a misting machine right before we left for vacation, and changed out his uvb light. The light that we bought seems to be smaller than what we had before, it is a repti-glo5.0. I didn’t know if this was part of the problem. We also went from using news papers to reptile bark, so it would be easier for the lady that kept our animals. I am very concerned. He is still eating and moving about. He is still using his bathing tub, he is pretty much acting as normal. I guess I should also tell you that he only eats Rep-Cal adult iguana food. He use to eat the fresh fruits and veggies, but he quit eating about 2 years ago, and all I could get him to eat was the pellets. I hope that you can give me some insight. We do not have any exotic vets in the area. We would have to travel about 90 miles for a vet. We will take him if you think it is needed, but I also know that that much time in a car will stress him out. Thank you for your time. Hopefully you can help us.
Sounds like he has picked up an infection.
I’d have you get rid of the bark and go back to paper ASAP. Continue to let him swim and or do some warm (100*-90*F) water soaks. Most importantly get him in to your veterinarian Monday and get him some antibiotics. If you have a veterinarian that you can communicate with well and he is open to working on your iguana we can do a phone consult with him/her and maybe save you the long drive.
The light is probably not a problem (I’d worry if you had gone from 5.0 to 10.0 but the new 5.0 should be fine for an adult male iguana. I’m not a big fan of prepared iguana (we see a higher rate of kidney problems in iguanas eating these diets vs dark leafy green vegetables).
Thank you so much for your help. I will let you know about the vet issue. We do have a vet here in town that we use on a regular basis. Maybe she wikl be willing to help. Thank you again!
I just had a question… I feel silly asking but how can i tell the sex of my iguana? I got “him” from a pet stop the was no help to me at all on him and I got him like half off because his rear legs are kinda messed up. I am a new owner and I am learning as I go. He is very sweet actually and loves when I hold him so I just want to do the best for him. Thank you for your help – Crystal
As mature animals, male iguanas have pores along the bottom side of their legs and a bulge just behind their vent along each side of their tails where their hemipenes (male organ that transfers semen) fold back into the tail. Females do not have functional femoral pores or “hemipenal swellings.”
Young iguanas all look like females and are sexed (by a professional) by passing a probe into the hemipene pocket (referred to as “probing”).
We provide that service at your first visit.
Is it possible to over feed my Juvenile Iggy ? And, when he’s full, is it normal for him to stay on bottom of he tank and start to doze off, closing his eyes?
As long as everything else is good I would not worry about that behavior. I like a little nap after a good meal as well 🙂
I’ve also been feeding my iguana mostly sweet snap peas, shell and all. Is that good or not? I’ve tried mustard greens and carrots but he won’t eat them. They end up just drying out. I bought some vitamin supplement yesterday. It only has vitamin D3 and calcium in it. If I put that on his peas, will that be sufficient enough for the little guy?
Dr J, I also need to Know If a regular screw in spiral florescent 100 watt bulb, that Im putting On his tank for UVA light is a good source for UVA? It looks just like the Reptiglo 5.0 that I’m using for UVB but it puts out a more yellow light unlike the Reptiglo that is a whiter light I use them both during day after the red heat lamp warms him and the cage up I switch it with the first one I mentioned So he gets both UVA for natural behavior and the UVB for producing D3 and help digestion I need to Know If the 100 watt spiral compact flourecent Is putting out uva rays?
UVB lights put our roughly twice as much UVA as they do UVB (so the Repi-sun / Repti-glow 5.0 is putting out roughly5% UVB and 10% UVA). That said, the idea that reptiles need UVA is a misconception. UVA causes skin cancer and sunburn. It does not stimulate appetite, or alter behavior. Those things are stimulated by heat (infra-red wavelength light).
My recommendation is that you leave the heat light in place all day (off at night) as per the discussion above. The light should be adjusted so that the hot spot under the ligt is 110*F-115*F.
The peas are a good food for a growing iguana. Combined with a good UV-B light source you should be fine.
I recommend against using the vitamin supplement. We see a too many iguanas die of kidney failure that age given vitamin D3.
Don’t give up on the other leafy green vegetables though! Try mixing them in with the peas!
Thanks Dr. J for the advice, but now I’m wondering if I should leave the heat lamp on at night as well because my room gets below 75 degrees while I’m asleep. Is that ok to leave it on at night so it doesn’t get to cold?
I’d have you turn off the main heat light and use an under tank heater under the place your iguana sleeps or use a second fixture with a ceramic heater set to 80*-85*F above. That way you get the 10* F temperature rop at night that we feel is optomum.
I also need to know what kind of tree branches with leaves still on them are safe to put in my little buddy’s cage thx Dr. J
Very few trees have leaves that are toxic to iguanas. Some Oak leaves have very high levels of tannin and, of course, Oleander is famous for being poisonus. Most other trees are OK. Here in San Diego we’d recommend eucalyptus, citrus, tree limbs,and hibiscus bushes as our favorites.
A quick Google search for the plant you think you want to use would be in order. Here is a good list of poisonous plants from Wikipedia.
Thank you Dr. J. You have helped me out alot and helped me to feel at ease about how I’m taking care of my little guy and given me knowledge about things i was worried about. God bless you and I’ll keep you posted on how he is doing and if I have any more questions I know where to turn.
Thank you again and God bless
Dustin Baker Lubbock, Texas
You’re welcome . . . Glad to be of help.
Dr J, I put a diffenbachia plant in my iguana’s cage and he ate a few bites of the leaves and it said the sap was toxic . I took it out when I saw he ate a few bites of it . Do you think he will be OK? The sap is only in the stems right?
Please get back to me. Thanks, Dustin
The toxic material, calcium oxalates, are in all parts of the plant. Small amounts cause irritation to the mouth and throat (hence the name). Large amounts over an extended period may cause other tissue damage (mostly kidney damage). The few bites your iguana took should not be a problem.
If you want plants in your enclosure I’d recommend a Pothos plant.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Dieffenbachia (dumb cane)
Pothos, Epipremnum aureum
Hi, I’m Khalifah from Kuwait. I just got 2 iguanas, a female and a male. I’m not sure if the cage is big enough for them to rome around. I provided then with treebark and branches I bought from a petstore which narrowed the area that they live in. They are not drinking water that much what should I do?
I read in an iguana handbook that I have to wash them everyday while there skin sheds. Is it true? Please reply as fast as possible.
I really appreciate what you are doing for the sake of the iguanas and helping people understand the life and learn about the habitats of the iguanas and how to treat them with respect. After all, they are breathing, live creatures that need attention because of they’re delicate. 🙂
Sounds like you have a good start. Young iguanas like having a somewhat crowded cage with lots of climbing and perching sites.
Double check temperatures (very important!) and spraying / misting them a couple times a day will reduce the chance of dehydration. They come from a tropical environment where the humidity is often over 90%.
Thank you sooo much Dr.J. Thanks for the help and wish you all the best 😉
My daughter got a baby iguana. I can’t tell how old he is yet but I know he does’t like to be picked up. He seems every happy he let’s me take his pictures, he looks at me for the pictures but all he wil eat is romine lettuce. Is that a problem and I don’t have any heating products for him either is that a problem?
Bad diet and insufficient heat are the MOST COMMON causes of disease and death in young iguanas.
So, YES!!! You must supply adequate heat and UV (see the article above) and get your iguana to eat a healthy diet.
Caring for a pet is a lot like being a parent. I know that he’d rather eat lettuce, but he will not be healthy if that is all he eats.
Best of luck! Dr. J
Hi. I just received an iguana from a lady who was unable to take care of him properly. She has no idea of age or sex. He/she has not been handled and is very skid-dish. The cage was nasty. I’ve got him/her in a giant dog kennel while it’s cage is being disinfected and cleaned. He/she is around 4ft. I have just a few questions.
1) Is there any way to determine sex or age?
2) Is there any general “rule of thumb” for size- cage needs.
3) Can they be tamed to handle frequently as an adult who is not at all used to it and what is the best way to go about it? When I went to get her I pick her up and she was fine for a minute then began to “hiss” quietly. However, she didn’t try to bite, scratch or ‘whip’ . Thanks so much!
By the time an iguana is 4 feet long you can sex it by the presence (or absence) of femoral pores. They appear as small, Crayon-like projections from the pores on the bottom side of the iguana’s thighs.
In general, larger cages are better, but there comes a point where heating the environment becomes difficult. I’d suggest a minimum of 4 feet high, 4 feet deep and 6 feet long. It is better to make the largest dimension long vs tall as heating a 6 foot tall cage is impractical.
Lastly, even iguanas that are handled as hatchlings may become dangerous as adults. Your new green ward will become more comfortable with you if you do get it out and handle it but always be aware and do not put yourself in a position were you can be bit.
Hello Dr Jenkins,
Do female iguanas lay eggs every year?
Yes, most do. If their lives are good (right temperatures, healthy food, minimal stress) then female iguanas of reproductive age (>3 years) lay eggs. We have had females over 20 years old lay !!!
Because of the high incidence of complications with egg laying, many female iguana owners choose to have they “spayed.” this surgery is more expensive (and more difficult) than a dog or cat spay (averaging $700).
Hi, We have an iguana that is about a year old. Sometimes she will be sitting still or laying on the log and all of a sudden she jumps as if she had a hiccup. Is this normal. Also, she has started to eat the paper on the bottom of the cage. Will this hurt her.
It seems that the “jump and run” behavior is common in iguanas (more so in young animals). People ask me about it all the time (although I don’t remember my animals ever doing so).
Eating paper is not normal but will not hurt your iguana in small amounts. Is the paper flat on the bottom of shredded into bedding?
Try offering more food and/or a bigger variety of foods and see if she stops.
First of all I want to thank you for the info you provide on our little green friends I am new to the world of iguanas I have had the one for couple of months and he is about 18 inches and seems to be healthy eats good and is very active but when I got him he was missing a toe and had one that looked dead and since then has fallen off is this common or should I be worried will they grow back thanks so much
Iguanas seem to abuse their toes. When I was chasing them around the wild it seemed that all of them had missing toes, missing toe nails, broken and dislocated toes.
They seem to do fine without them and a missing toe is better than an infected one!
I have a iguana that is about 6 months old. One of his back legs is bigger than the other. Sometimes he avoids walking on that leg and then, if I try to pick him up while he’s not walking on that leg, he’ll take off running from me. Is that normal?
The most likely caus of your iguana’s problem is that he has a “folding” or “green stick” fracture of the larger leg. These are caused by metabolic bone disease (MBD). MBD is common in young iguanas. It is caused by lack of exposure to UV-B, low calcium content of diet and low environmental temperature. To confirm that MBD is the problem your veterinarian may need to take a radiograph (X-ray).
Treatment will include correcting the underlying problem and, in some cases, supplements and pain medicine.
Hope all turns out OK. Let us know!
Hello I have a juvenile iguana and I woke up this morning ang he was very wobbly and can’t hold him self up I don’t know if he got our what but he started to bubble at the mouth it looks like his going to die I just want to know what I can do to save him
You need to get your iguana to a veterinarian as soon as posible.
He may have eaten something poisonous or noxious (some plants, insects,etc). He may have been overheated, or he may be sick.
An experienced (reptile) veterinarian will give your frienf his best chance.
Thank you so much Dr. this is my first iguana and I just got him a couple days ago and I would be pretty bummed if I lost the little guy
Is it okay if I bathe my iguana?
Yep. Cleanliness is next to Godliness !!!
Use a mild soap (I like Johnsons & Johnsons “Baby Wash”) and rinse well.
Water temperature should be no hotter than 100*F.
I have a question. I just got my iguana a couple days ago and I was wondering if I could go outside and get a stick or two and put it in the tank?
Young iguanas like having a somewhat crowded cage with lots of climbing and perching sites. Branches from outside are fine. Wash them off and make sure that there are no sharp points that may hurt your new friend.
Is it OK if I feed my iguana baby food?
It’s OK to feed vegetable baby food as part of an iguana’s diet but MOST of the diet should be whole leafy green vegetables.
We just adopted a 4 ft. green iguana. I am completely new to this. When we went to pick up this kid we were in shock of the living conditions for this animal and he has biten someone and I am wondering what is the best way to calm the kid down. I know stress is not good and we built him/her a bigger cage out of PVC and coated wire and now it is in a bigger enviroment. However I know they can be territoral so would it be best if I go in the cage with it for him to get to know me and trust me or do I just jump in and go for it. I want what is best for him and keep me somewhat safe. When we got him home I was cleaning out the old tank that he was in and he jumped out and ran all over our house tried to climb my bookcase, not a good thing, he is ok. We tried to put a towel over him to calm him down but it did the oppisite thing it made him more aggresive. Do you Have any suggestions or am I doing what I can. Anything you can tell me would help.
Your new green friend will become calmer and more friendly with regular handling, however, BE VERY CAREFUL!!! A large iguana can be very dangerous. Iguana’s have sharp teeth and powerful jaws that deliver deep lacerations. Always keep hands and fingers out of the iguana’s reach. If you have to catch him, cover him with a thick blanket and restrain him behind his neck and at the base of his tail. Be careful of sharp claws and whipping tail!
Hey Dr. J, this is Josh. How are you? You helped me with my Yoshi a few moths ago, he is doing a lot better now but, I have 1 more question About my Yoshi. His claws are growing out and they seem a little long. Should I clip them or just leave them alone?
Sooner or later you will need to clip his nails (or have someone clip them).
Before you start this project, you need to buy some Kwik-Stop or similar styptic powder (just in case you cut a nail too short) and a pair of Resco Nail Clippers .
Restrain Yoshi in a thick towel so you do not get bit, scratched or whipped with his tail. You may want someone to hold him for you. Look at his nails and see the “rose thorn” like hook at the end of his nails. Clip 1/4 to 1/3 of that hooked tip of the nail. You can smooth the end with an emery board (I like the foam type that are make for acrylic nails) if he does well with the clipping.
Good luck! Dr. J
Hey doc this is mark I read that its ok to feed frozen vegis to our green iguanas not that I have a ptoblem with the two of mine eating I usually make a salad for them consisting of collared greens cabbage bell peppers and peaches mangos too they love it sometimes i put thawed frozen vegetables in is this ok or not thanks
Frozen vegetables are OK as a suppliment, but not as a significant part.
I think of them as a garnish.
hola doctor fijese que tengo una iguanita chiquita pero la aplasron y sele salio un
globo ocular . se ve muy exajerado y elotro no lo abre ¿ que puedo hacer ?
ademas es de noche y en la noche no hay veteriarias abiertas :……
perdera sus ojitos?
que hago mientras voy al veterinario?
si pierde los ojitos de todas maneras la cuidare pero coo se hara esto?
Dear Dr. Jenkins,
I’ve grown up with “critters” all my life, mostly cats and dogs, but we’ve had gerbils, a guinea pig and I remembera a box turtle in my early life. The cats and dogs have always been of the longer lived inclination 15-18 years on generally. Our house always looked like a party with people and critters coming and going and “strays” of many species visiting or taking up residence. Four feet or fewer we have a chance at being friends. (not so much insects or spiders) I’ve long since grown up,married and moved away but we had two cats in PA (strays who moved in) until the landlord had a cow. Our cats moved in with my folks. Then we moved to Atlanta.
Two months ago a stray iguana climbed the tree in my parents’ yard. The only tree in the block in North Philadelphia. To tell the amusing side of the story, it could only have happened to us. The tragic side is someone bought it freaked and streeted it. We have no history. It is 2 feet long or so nose to tail. My folks took it to a vet (not a specialist) who said it had a fungus on its head from lack of sun and some malnutrition. Gave my folks a prescription to apply daily with a q-tip. They did research and found your web-site. after 6 weeks they brought our cats and the iguana down to us in Atlanta. We built it a cage and we’ve had it 10 days. It has had a steady diet of collard greens and yesterday went nuts for a bannana. My Dad kept commenting on how green it was getting (having been less healthy) , my husband has taken up the getting greener chant. It spends most of the day semi-shaded on the porch and the night indoors. We handle it with gloves so far (as we all learn). Seems mad at me today ’cause I gave it a bath, but is not aggressive. Other than trying to escape the cage Seems ‘Happy’. Is calm when we hold it. Would like to know about gowth rate and potential age of ‘Don Pablo or Dona Paolita’. Worried about the ‘mite’ issue I read about. I garden and have always had trouble over-wintering my indoor plants because of spider mites. But…. What about herb plants basils, oregano, rosemary, mints, I have extra of some of these some flowers as well. You said pothos and deiffembacchia were acceptable for in the cage: what about dracena (lucky bamboo), or jades and aloes? Will it eat things it should avoid? What do they do in the wild?
We have very little money to spare so I’m working on the preventative is the best cure idea. also wondering about adjusting to entirely indoor life this winter. We will build a larger cage (single room no wheels) but…. Sooo many questions. Thank you very much for answering what you can of these. “Thing” (nickname) is soo cool, we are soo excited. We want to make sure all is well and smooth for as long as possible.
Great story, you have a gift for story telling!
Iguanas are ~6 inches long at the time they hatch. In the wild, iguanas grow 2-3 inches a month. They can (and should) grow at that rate in captivity (but often do not). Temperature is the most important factor affecting their growth rate. He should do well with Atlanta summer but you will have to move it in and provide heat for the winter.
Don’t worry too much about your green friend eating the wrong things in your garden. The typically do fine (and apparentlythis one did OK living on its own).
Your friend will not stay green forever. As young animals they get a grey sheen to their head and sometimes their backs from being out in the sun (this may be what he had when found). This would fade with less time in full sunlight. As they grow older they become less green and more grey or even orange.
Dear Dr J,
Clearly I mis-read Dustin’s Diffenbacchia story. I do have several golden pothos plants. Went to wiki-pedia and downloaded poisonous plant list. I noticed that most of the plants on the list are things I would not have in the house much less put in the cage. But I also know that some things are more toxic to certain species than to others. Sara (16 year old cat) is attracted to my jades, my spider plants and my diffenbacchia. I have to work to keep it out of her reach. I do know better than to give anyone chocolate in any form but I wonder if I can rely on the idea of “if it’s ok for me, it’s ok for the iguana.” I also wonder about the dandelions in the yard. What if I get a young thistle plant instead. Will that be a harmful error or a neutral one? Thank you again. Lisa
Iguanas are likely less sensitive to poisonous plants than some other animals. Problem is that there have not been any good studies to show just how poisonous any plant is to iguanas.
Dandilions are fine (we feed then to iguanas in the hospital). I have seen iguanas in the wild eat thistle (family) plants (apparently not bothered by thorns).
Um I have a question I have a baby green iguana thats about 1 foot long and on his back right behind his head its a light brown color and along his back but he is sheading is that ok?
I can’t tell you for certain without seeing your iguana, but I suspect it is just shedding.
Give it some time and see what happens. If it is shedding skin it should be off in a couple of days.
I have another question. Is it OK if I give my baby green iguana regular sunlight outside every day and spray his body with vitaspray without using a uvb light?
It’s great as long as you continue to do it. I don’t recommend the Vitaspray.
The problem comes when temperatures get too cold to go out every day.
Ok thank you so much. Is 30 min to a hour outside OK if I’m not using a UV-b bulb?
That should be fine IF you get him out MOST days.
And is it OK to get a couple sticks from outside so it can climb? Can I do that or go buy fake ones?
Branches from outside are fine. Wash them off before using them.
How do you keep them warm at night? I know you use a heat lamp during the day, but what about at night? I live in a cold climate area and am interested in someday owning an iguana
If they will use a hide box (and many iguanas do) then I think it is best to use an under-tank heater that covers the area under the hide box, set at 808-85* F. Larger animals use a piglet heater (my favorite is the Stanford heater available here).
Iguanas that will not use a hide box should have a ceramic heater that keeps the area that the iguana sleeps in at the same temperature.
Hi, I’m glad I found this site! I adopted a male RED Iguana from a guy who said he got it from some girl who didn’t want it. He couldn’t handle it, and his girlfriend told him to get rid of it. I was told that this iguana is a young male, but he looks pretty adult to me. He hasn’t tried to bite, but threatens with the tail when he is cranky. I make a point of touching him every day and he is getting better. I finally have him eating an assortment of greens, including mulberry leaves, and he LOVES pumpkin blossoms. I have tortoises, so I am pretty much giving him what I give them. My main question………..his color. He is a bright flame orange red, head to tail. I have had him for a few months now, and the color has stayed the same. I did find a couple places online about red iguanas, but I wanted to find out if there is any significant difference in care/heating/lighting/feeding of the red vs the green iguana? Thanks!
The red and orange colored iguanas are just different races of the green iguana (Iguana iguana). There are some countries or areas within countries that seem to have more of one color or another and they seem have some genetic link (that is to say that iguanas that are red are more likelyh to have offspring that are red).
That said there is no difference in their environmental or dietary needs. Just a very cool colored iguana !!!
If you get a chance post pictures to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/AEAHSD
Are you supposed to feed your lizard by hand? At first he never tried to bite my hand and now he always tries and I feed him by hand. Please help me.
For simplicity reasons alone, I think you are better off teaching him to eat off of a plate or dish. I don’t know if his trying to bite is because he associates your hands with food or if he is just getting older and more dominant.
My iguanas tail came off! What do I do? Will it be ok? Im so upset and worried please help it is a new iguana only a few weeks old.
You don’t need to do anything but keep it clean. It will regrow, not as nice a tail at it broke off. but a tail all the same.
I’m getting an iguana tomorrow, do you think its good to feed it mango or green beans?
Both are OK as part of their diet, however, MOST of the diet should be “dark leafy greens.” That is leafy green vegetables that don’t have “lettuce” in their name.
Hello all. My nephew dropped his Iguana in a shallow bucket of water with a hint of Fabuloso- the cleaning supply , on Saturday only for a couple of seconds. Is it possible for her eyes to be permanently damaged? She has stopped eating and there is slowing of pace in her mobility. Is there anything I can do to help nurse it back to health? My nephew is really attached to it. Thanks for your help in advanced.
The Fabuloso most likely has caused chemical burns on the corneas of your nephew’s iguana. These may heal but MUST be attended to as soon as possible. Get him to a veterinarian today !!!
For the rest of you reading this post, if this was to happen to your pet, rinse their eyes in cool water for as long as you can then take the pet to your veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic for appropriate treatment.
Thank you so much!!
I have a year old green iguana. I hold him a couple of times a day but he is still very violent. Everytime I get him out of his cage he bites and whips at me. Is there any way to help calm him?
Repeated handling will (often) help but a healthy iguana is an aggressive animal. You will never be able to trust that it will not bit or whip hou and it must be handled accordingly.
my husband caught a baby green iguana at his job while landscaping 8/18/11… I have the iguana in a temporary cage for now that is about a 5 gallon.. an i put sticks, branches w leaves, half a log for hiding. a water dish an a small dish w greens cut up… Im keeping the cage outside with a wire top… so the iguana can bask in natural sun.. which i heard was best.. i mist the iguana multiple times a day… but i havent seen eat… an i want whats best for him can you please help me… i know i need a bigger cage… we plan on building one out of wood an wire approx.. 6′ high by 4′ wide an it will be kept outside also is that really whats best? an i was also told that holding an iguana that isnt tame could stress an cause it to die?
Don’t make your cage too large. I’d have you start with one more like 20″-30″ deep by 24-36 inches long by 24 inches high. It is very difficult to heat a large cage.
Follow the recommendations in the above and your new friend should do great !!!
I caught a baby iguana on Saturday. I got a cage, Romane letuce and, or course, water. My question is: what else do I need to make him live to the end?
The information you need is all in the instructions above.
A special note, Romaine letuce does not have enough nutritional value to keep your iguana healthy. Be sure to offer him a variety of “dark leafy greens” such as kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip tops, carrot tops, dandelions, spinach, etc.
My green buddy has a 10- gallon tank (glass) with a bark-based bottom. He has a feeding/drinking dish. He has the basking light/UVB Light. Is there anything wrong with his environment? When should I use the UVB and vice versa the basking light
Your green friend will grow out of 10 gallons prety fast. Maybe already.
Hatchlings we setup in a protected environment in the wild grew 3 feet in their first 12 months (but understand that that was the “perfect environment”). We expect that they should grow at least 2″ a month in captivity with a good environment.
You need to use the UV-b and heat lamp for 12-14 hours a day. At night they can get some supportive heat from an under tank heater or a ceramic heater (ther one that does not produce any light). I’m not a fan of red lights for night time heat.
My granddaughter won an iguana @ a carnival today! It was in a very small cage. It is about 12″ long, very green. We have put it in a 55 gallon tank w/green beans & water. Also, we put some limbs and logs from outside in the cage. We have yet to get a heat lamp but will get it tomorrow. Is it necessary to get a heating device to put under the cage? I was thinking a heat lamp would be enough but probably won’t keep the whole tank real warm. I have him in front of a south window so he can get plenty of sunlight. Our house temp is 76 at night. I don’t think he will get to cold but don’t want something to happen to the little thing. I am not a fan of this little reptile!! Just want to care for it properly.
Especially when they are young I like the tank to have an “under tank heater.” For the full setup read the information above.
Be careful with the sunlight coming through the window that it does not get over heated!
Cheers, Dr. J
I have an Iguana that is 7yrs old, she roams the house like one of our other pets we have, She goes in and out of her cage freely, when we first got her she would get out of her cage and roam the house, there was a few nights I woke up and she was under my pillow asleep with us in bed. never bothered us just liked to sleep in bed with us for some reason. she gets along with my dogs and cat, they like to play, she don’t hurt them and they don’t hurt her they play chase. she loves to walk outside with the dogs and use the bathroom then when she is done she comes back into the house. (have to guide her sometimes). she will get into her cage and eat, drink her water lay under her light then get back out and roam the house. I just have a few questions, she will eat her fruits and veggies but she also likes the cat and dog food with it hurt her? and what does it mean when she lifts her head up and her flabby gill thing under her neck straightens out and then she bobs her head up and down ( like she is saying yes) I guess my question is what does that mean when they do that? Thank You if you could answer these questions for me.
Lots of peoples iguanas roam the house. It is fine as long as they use that basking lite (so that they stay warm enough) and get enough UV-b by spending time outside or under a UV light. It sounds like your green friend is happy and successful in its environment.
The display of the “dewlap” the flag of skin under his chin is a dominance behavior. He’s letting you know that he thinks he owns the place!
Cheers, Dr. J
I’ve had my iguana for almost 3yrs. I currently have him in a hutch that we converted into a turraium for him. We have three separate lights for him, day time heat, night time heat, and his uva light. I feed him fresh fruits and veggies daily on top of fresh plants for him, but he first seem to be growing as rapidly as I thought he would. When we got him he was just a lil guy bout maybe 15 in now 3 yrs later hes only bout 30 in. is this normal? If not what should I do?
Check you temperatures. Having a heat light is not enough, you have to know how hot those temperatures are: “basking site,” night time temperature. See the information above.
It may be that you have a female. Some of the females will not get much more that 3 1/2 to 4 feet long, so it may be that she is full grown (for her).
Most importantly, check the temperatures in the cage and make sure they are correct (110*-115*F in the basking site, low 80*s where he sleeps at night) as per the directions above.
There is a chance that your iguana is normal. Some female iguanas only get to be 3-4 feet long. If conditions were poor when the iguana was young their growth is stunted and they never get to their full potential.
If there is a chance he is not healthy (poor appetite, slow to shed (iguanas should never go more than a week or two without some part shedding skin) then you may want to have him checked by a good reptile veterinarian.
I have a four year old female iguana… But she doesn’t want to eat or drink water but I open her mouth and give it to her anyway. I don’t know what to do because there is no reptile vet at Rio Grande Valley, TX… So what can I do..
Most iguana problems are based in husbandry, so first, go through all the information above and make certain that you temperatures are correct. Second, soak her for an hour daily and continue to hand / force feed her.
If she does not respond, find an interested veterinarian in your area that you can communicate with well and have them cal me for a consult.
We’ll find an answer for you.
Cheers, Dr. J
Thanks for all the amazing , BALANCED, information about iguanas. Mostly I just shake my head in wonder when I read “expert” advice on the net. Your advice and my experience of reptiles (igs in particular) tie up. I was beginning to think that iguanas in the USA and those in the southern hemisphere were different species, or the people were. The advice you give is good, common sense mostly, and I thank you for it!
Thanks! It’s based on a lot of years of foolin’ with the lil’ green devils! Dr. J
Dear iguana lovers.
I have always loved iguanas and would eventually like to own one. The thing is, I was planning to move to canada, where it is not really iguana weather. If I were to keep him/her inside with good heating would that be enough or cruel not to let him/her outside?
Iguanas do fine indoors if they are warm enough and have adequate UV-b lighting (see the information above).
Stay warm! Dr. J
I am having an issue with my 6 year old iguana. She ate some saran wrap, well a large piece of saran wrap, she passed it 6 days ago. After the saran wrap came out she began to swell. Her legs and tail are swollen, her face is not swollen. Her limbs are not firm to the touch, they are still squishy. She is still eating some and she is not lethargic or extra sleepy. She still participates in her warm baths and climbs up and down her enclosure. She eats collard greens, kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and assorted fruit…all of which is powdered with a multi-vitamin and calcium. She has a 4’x4’x2′ enclosure with a mercury vapor light and a florescent reptile lamp. She is sneaky and has gotten out of her enclosure before…she has eaten cat food…doesn’t that cause kidney failure? Right now I am giving her an oral liquid mutli-vitamin with water and giving her a pedialyte/water bath everyday. I’m kind of freaking out because I am not sure what to do…please help!
There are many possible causes for the changes you are seeing in your iguana, all are worrisome.
I think you need to find a veterinarian and have a god physical examination done. You may need to have an x-ray taken (if the veterinarian feels there may be an intestinal blockage) or blood tests done (if he/she feels the swelling is caused by edema or inflammation).
Best of luck, Dr. J
I can’t get my new iquana Jeffrey to eat, I have his pen heated and have tried tomatoes,bannana’s (wich he almost ate but desided not to.) cucumbers, Lettuce (NOT icburge i made shure),and apples. I don’t think he is drinking water eather. He is about one foot and three inches long. I am new to owning a iguana and don’t know what to do. Please wright me back as soon as you can!
Jeffrey (great name!) may just be upset by the changes in his life and may start eating once he settles in.
More specific to diet, iguanas are leaf eating lizards. They eat mostly tree leaves that are high in fiber. Fruits, flowers and seeds make up a very small portion of of their diet.
I’d recommend that most of Jeff’s diet be composed of “dark leafy greens” (which we define as leafy green vegetables that DO NOT have lettuce in their name).
Congratulations on your new pet.
Hi, Dr. J I have a baby iguana that i have had since july, I have a 100w powersun bulb that provides his heat/uv it stays about 90F in the basking spot. Everyday i feed him fresh collards, kale, sweet potatoe an squash. The thing is he doesn’t look to be putting on weight or growing. He doesnt even come close to finishing what i give him to eat, which i think isn’t much at all. Niether has he shed since having him only when i got him he was finishing a shed. What do you think it could be?
I’m not a fan of the “do everything” mercury vapor lights. Research and experience has proven that they do a poor job as both a heat source (can’t dim or adjust the temperature without changing the height of the light), and as a UV-b source. These lights are the same as those used for sun tanning in the 1960s-1990s. They were taken off the market because they produced a huge amount of UV-a (causes sunburn and skin cancer) and almost no UV-b (good UV that activates vitamin D). I’d recommend an infrared heat light (such as you’s use to heat a bath room) of a wattage greater than you need to get the temperature you need. For your purpose you are going to need at least a 120-250 watt bulb, then dim it to the temperature you want (110*F-115*F at the basking site). Use a fluorescent UV source such as ZooMed Repi-Sun 10.0.
My cousin has recently left his iguana in my care. He had caught a few wild gardner snakes and put them in the encloser with the iguana. I’m concerned it may have caught an illness from the snakes. It’s color looks great, it seams active and healthy, exept it is loosing weight, despite its eating regularly and being given powdered vitamins (Repti-Cal). I have read the directions on the suplements and it says only use 1 or 2 times a week, but my cousin comes by and gives it a pretty heavy dose almost everyday. Any advice (other than smacking my idiot cousin) would be appreciated.
I’ll leaving the smacking of your cousin to you (but not a bad idea).
I’m not a fan of supplements. We see more problems caused by too much vitamin D and calcium caused by supplements than we see caused bu no supplements. I do not use or recommend them at all.
As with many of these questions, my advise is to check temperatures, feed quality greens (no lettuce of any kind) and see a veterinarian if you don’t get the results you expect.
I have a red iguana that is about 2 -2 .5 years old and he has recently quit eating. He attempts to but acts like he is choking on his food. We looked inside his mouth and the side of his mouth are black. I can’t find a vet around where we live. I would appreciate any advice you can give. Thank you
A common cause of the signs you are seeing is hair, picked up from walking the house tongue flicking, tangled around the base of the iguana’s tongue and / or in the back of its throat. Use a rubber spatula to carefully open his mouth and look down his throat (be careful not to get bit !!!) or find a veterinarian that is willing to take on a new challenge and have him / her take a look. They can call us for a consult if they have questions.
Jeffrey has become much more active and attentive and still refuses to eat. I looked around online and read about iquanas, and i think that Jeffrey might have parisites and that is what is causing him to not have a appitite. I can’t find any other problems and he seems to be very contenet with his envorment now, I don’t even think he is scared of my house anymore. I don’t think the vets where i live treat iguana’s or other lizards. Is there anything i can give him? Also i learned that you measure a iguana from the tip of thier nose to the base of thier tale and he is about five inches long but plus his tail he is at least 1ft and three inches. Do you have any estimate on how old he is i am realy curiose to know. Please wright me back as soon as you can, i am so worried about him since he hasn’t eaten anything but a tiny bit of banna for nearly three days now.
Well my iguana Pickles is a juvenile iguana and he has a cage without a U.V. Light can he die without it? Also if I hold him to much can he die or will he be more attracted to me
Young iguanas have a great need for UB-b light. They do well outdoors (when the daytime temperature are in the 80*-90*F, but if raised indoors will develop metabolic bone disease (MBD) without a UV-b source, proper temperature and correct diet. (See original post on iguana care).
If I hold Pickles (my iguana) to much will he die or be more attracted to me? Please answer. 🙂
Oops! Sorry I missed that part!
It won’t kill him but if he struggles he could get injured.
Some iguanas become more and more “friendly” (I’d rather say accustomed to being handled), some never give up the fight.
Be careful not to get bit. Be patient with Pickles and I think your efforts will be rewarded.
What are some fruit and veggies that have calcium I normally feed him collard greens, tomatoes, and zucchini? Do any of those have calcium?
Iguanas have evolved to eat tree leaves. They need a diet of
dark, leafy green vegetables
These would include collard greens, kale, dandelions, mustard greens, spinach, parsley, etc., etc., etc., If it’s leafy. green and does not have “lettuce” in it’s name it is likely a good food for your iguana. As a treat you can add
a small amount
of berries, banana, or other soft fruits.
Oh and also my iguana does not have a heat source as in heat lamps and such, can he die? I am so sorry for asking you so much stuff about pickles.
Yes, without heat he will die in time. Most die of pneumonia or complications of skin infections. Some eat and digest so poorly they starve to death.
Heat is THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of reptile husbandry.
Dear, Dr. J I have had my iguana for about 3 months now. He is about 3 inches from stv, He eats his food but can never finish what is giving to him like there is no appetite. Anyways for 3 months now he still looks the same size no weight gain or growth! I just started feed him calcium about 3 days ago. Can you tell me why he hasn’t grown? Also he hasn’t shed the whole 3 months either and he’s young so i know he should be exploding with growth. Thanks much!
I know that I sound like a broken record, but the most likely cause of your problems is too little heat. The most common signs of low an environmental temperature include: poor appetite, retarded growth and development, and slow or lack of shedding / molting.
You need a reliable thermometer (I’d recommend a Kintrex) to check what the temperatures are in your enclosure. Adjust your heat light (as directed above) so that your “basking site,” the hottest spot under your heat light, is set to 110*-115*F and air temperatures are in the low 80*F during the day. At night we’s like the temperature where your iguana sleeps to be in the low 80*s as well. Young iguanas will often sleep in a hide box. An under tank heater works well for this application. Older iguanas want to sleep on a shelf or branch. A ceramic heater works better for this location. Adjust temperatures using lamp dimmer switches. (I like the ones make by Levitron).
When do iguanas sleep ?????
They sleep at night. Some will take a nap during the day !!!
How many WATTS would the heat lamp need to be; And would direct sunlight work for him in the morning?
How many watts will depend on the distance the light is from the basking site and the ambient temperature of the room. Typicall you will need 120-250 watt bulb.
The best situation is to get a light bigger (more wattage) than you need then plug it into a dimmer switch and dim the light to get the temperature you need (110*-115*F) at the basking site.
I have a turquoise blue iguana name ice his tail looks like it’s getting bony he doesnt eat any green vegetables only carrots I have a UVB bulb and a basking bulb what should I do to get him to eat green vegetables and he loves mango and all berries but no green vegetables what do I do
The first thing is to check the temperature in his basking site under the heat light and in his cage. Low environmental temperature is the number one cause of not eating (anorexia) and weight loss. If those temperatures are OK then you should have a veterinarian check him out and, likely, take a blood test to rule out infection or organ problems.
My iguana, Paco, is about 16 months old. He seems very healthy with a good temperament, but he has a lump on top of his tail. It doesn’t seem to affect him and it doesn’t have a head or any swollen parts around it. Do I need to be concerned?
Most likely cause of Paco’s lump is an abscess form an old wound (common problem of iguanas).
This is not an emergency but the chronic infection will eventually make Paco sick and cause systemic (whole body) problems. Find a veterinarian that knows about reptiles and have him / her take a look.
Best of luck, Dr. J
Hi I really want a iguana or lizard which one do you think is a better pet? And also when you go to a pet store to buy one how do they come I mean like don’t they have to be under a light?
My personal opinion is that iguanas are difficult reptiles to keep. If you have never had a pet lizard before I’d recommend starting with a Uromastyx . Care information is here: https://www.drexotic.com/news/bearded-dragons/
Uro’s are herbivorous, like iguanas. but they are much less aggressive and much easier to handle. They do need a warmer environment (120*F in their basking area) but they are much smaller and do well in a 20-30 gal terrarium.
Let me know what you decide !!!
Thank you so much the Uromastyx looks pretty ugly on the tail but its okay.
Check them out . . . You’ll love ’em !!!
Can my iguana eat pumpkins? and what can’t my Iguana eat?
Just in time for Halloween !!
Pumpkin and other squash are healthy vegetables for iguanas to eat. You will need to grate it or cut it into thin strips.
Send me a picture of your iguana eating his pumpkin or post it on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/AEAHSD
He doesnt have any more pumpkins but I can still send you a picture of just pickles ok?
That would be great !!!
I have an iguana, his name is Mugzy. Mugzy is about 5 years old and is over 5 feet long . Yyes he is big. Dr. Jenkins my question is….. Just recently I have noticed that Mugzy is sleeping with his tongue out. Is that normal?
Thank You 🙂
Oh and another thing I noticed ….. He never drinks water
Most iguanas get sufficient water from the vegetables they eat. A good soak / swim every few days is a way to get a bit of extra water into them and just good clean fun !!!
I don’t know of any disease of condition the results in iguanas sleeping with their mouth open. Some, because of metabolic bone disease peoblems when they are young have jaws that don’t match well and during the time that they are shedding their skin from around their mouths, their lips will turn out exposing their gums. I might think that if they had blocked nostrils (from incomplete shed or nasal discharge) that they would breath through their mouths.
May just be a new behaviour! Give him a good look in his mouth and nostrils just to be sure.
Thank you so much 🙂 for getting back
I have an iguana that is 5 months old. He is living in 70 degree climate. All the lightbulbs for iguanas don’t work but he seems healthy. Am i doing the right thing?
If his cage is only 70* F he will not eat or grow normally and will eventually get sick and die.
There is a chance that your cage is hotter than you think. You need to have a reliable thermometer (typically not one from a pet shop . . . Try a cooking “dial thermometer or my favorite, a laser directed infra-red thermometer, such as the Kintrex )
Start by reading through this post and the thread of answers to questions. I’m sure you’ll have no problems.
Thanks, it helped me.
What heater or light should I use?
I’d recommend that you use a regular infra-red heat light, like you would use to heat a bathroom. These bulbs are designed to efficiently produce heat and produce more heat per $ cost to use them. I like the 125-250 watt IR bulbs from Phillips sold at Home Depot.
Is 80 degrees good for an iguana to live in and is a 18 in by 20 in by 12in terrarium good?
80*F “air temperature with a 110*-115*F basking site (as in the care instructions. If 80*F is the hottest your environment gets your iguana will not do well.
The terrarium size is OK for a new hatchling but will not last more than a year. We expect hatchlings to grow 2″-3” a month (2-3 feet in their first year) !!!
My iguana likes to hide under the green turf. He sleeps there all night. is that ok? He also eats some of his meal before he goes to sleep, then after I go to sleep he comes out to eat the fresh veggies I set out. Is this normal behavior? My iguana is about five months now and growing.
Young iguanas are at risk of being killed by predators and spend some time hiden away. You may want to supply a hide box or other place to hide (two shelves placed a few inches abart can make a good crevas for a young iguna to hide in).
I recommend that you regulare the temperature in the hidding spot using an undertank heater plugged into a lamp dimmer adjuster to 80* F.
Is it okay if I feed my iguana lettuce and carrots and celery?
It’s OK to feed those vegetables; they just do not have as much nutrition as darker leafy greens.
I adopted a 10 year old iguana whose tail had just been amputated because it was fractured in 3 places and never splinted or fixed. Because of this, she couldn’t climb to reach her sunlight. She’s very loving, eats well, and seems healthy. Her tail is trying to grow back, of course, but is now 2 inches long and the circumfrence of a pinky finger. I guess my question is was the vet wrong and is there anything more I can do for her?
I’m not sure I understand the question.
Iguanas are good at regenerating their tails (if removed / fractured at the right place). If she has a good environment and diet she should have a new tail in no time.
I’m not sure I understand the question.
Iguanas are good at regenerating their tails (if removed / fractured at the right place). If she has a good environment and diet she should have a new tail in no time.
I have had an iguana for 5 months and I’m not giving him UVb lighting though I’m giving him UVa and he is eating well and he seems very active and he is very very green.
Iguanas can store vitamin D for a period of time and how much they need is a function of calcium usage in their body. If they are growing or layig eggs they will need more than if they are mature and not laying eggs. In any case, the lack of UVb will catch up with them in time.
Get a UVb source. It will be less expensive to get one now than to treat the problems that will develop later !!!
I am Firas from Palestine. I have a green iguana that is 1 year old (maybe).
My small iguana is always sleeping for about 1 week. I went to a veterinarian, he told me that he is good but I should give him some heat. He is warm now and he still sleeping.
When i try to catch him or put him on my shoulder he climbs good and after 2 minutes he return to sleep 🙂
Is he OK ?
I read about feeding and i think i give him a good diet.
Please help me
The most common reason for an iguana to sleep all the time and not to eat is lack of heat, so the veterinarian may be right.
If the temperatures are good (110-115*F (43*-46*C) in the basking site, 80*F (27*C) air temperature in the cage during the day) then there may be other reasons for it to sleep more than normal.
Have the veterinarian take another look at him if you are still concerned. Let me know how things progress.
Cheers, Dr. J
My iguana is in the sun for up to 5 hours a day. Do I still need a UVb light?
If you can keep that up for most of the year, you do not need a UVb light. If you live where there are long cold winters, a UVb would be a good addition to your iguana’s environment.
My iguana in the middle of the afternoon is always hiding under the green turf. is this normal? He sleeps this way all night. also how can I tell the difference between a male and female iguana?
Young iguanas make tasty snacks for a lot of animals in the wild and are picked on by big iguanas, therefore they try to stay out of sight. They still need to stay warm or they don’t eat or grow and eventually get sick and die.
I’d have you make him a hide spot that is heated with an under tank heater. It can be on the floor of the cage or it can be on a shelf in the cage up off the floor. The important thing is that you find something that he likes to use.
It’s a bit tough to sex small / young iguanas. They are sexed by probing the males hemi-penes. This should be done by an experienced person so as to not injur the amial. As iguanas get older and have higher hormone levels, male’s femoral pores develop. These are the row of pores on the bottom of the back legs. Each pore on the males have a waxy secretion that protrudes from the pore like a little Crayon.
When you first get your baby iguana, how long does it take to get it tamed and use to you? I have had it about 2 1/2 months and it keeps running from me in it’s aquarium cage and swipes its tail at me. Even when I pick it up. When I do pick it up, is it ok to wear long welders glove so I don’t get scratched by it’s claws?
It depends on the iguana. In general, feisty iguanas are healthy. So it’s not a bad thing all together!
Some are “tamed down” in just a few weeks, some never really give up the fight. Be patient and I’ll bet your efforts will be rewarded.
What time does iguana go to sleep?
They nap during the day and sleep through the night (which in a captive situation would be when you turn off the lights).
From all your help, my iguana is nice and hot and healthy thanks!
Glad to hear it . . . How about posting a picture. Send me one or post one to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/AEAHSD
i was reading your comment on dennis on about how long until they get tamed for. my iguana was tamed 4 days after i got him. 🙂
The tip of my iguana’s tongue is very dark red and it hangs out of his mouth. He hasn’t been eating. Why would this happen?
The tip of his tongue has always been darker red than the rest of his tongue. The surface of the tip of their tongues is different so that it picks up small particles when they tong flick and “smell” their environment.
Iguanas with bone problems (MBD) often have a lower jaw that is shorter than their upper jaw. When iguanas are warm they often sit with their mouth open a smidgen. Bottom line is that if all else is good I’d just keep a watch on him. If he stops eating or shows other signs of illness, best to have him seen.
I can’t find my iguana in my house anywhere! Where should I look and how long can he stay without food???
Look in warm, dark spots. Behind the refrigerator, behind the dryer, etc.
Typically they will come looking for food or water when they get hungry or thirsty.
Best of luck! Dr. J
Dear Dr. J
My pet iguana Jeffrey has a big white spot on his side, he is a green iguana should I be concerned
These are often caused by infection (bacterial of fungal) or burns. I’d recommend that you have a good reptile experienced veterinarian take a look.
Cheers, Dr. J
Why does my iguana have a huge scale near his neck and is it important?
The large scale on either side of iguanas head is for display. That is, to show off to other iguanas to they will know just how big and tough they are and do impress the girl iguanas. It’s kind of like having a cool sports car !!!
I have a young Iguana whose solid part of his poop has turned an orange color. He eats mostly collard greens and mustard greens, but I did mix in some carrot shavings. Could the carrots have caused the color change? He is still active and eating. Thank You for your help
It’s likely the carrots.
Stop feeding them for a few days and see what happens.
My iguana’s glands are swollen. He eats fine but only opens his mouth half way. He is about 3 ft long and the big circles on both side of his neck look like there popping out and are rock hard. Please tell me what i can do to help him. I hope he’s not in pain.
Iguanas can get abscesses under their tongue extending below their jaw. This would be the most likely cause of a swelling there (they don’t have lymph nodes (“glands”) there as we humans do. If that is the case, you need to find a reptile vet to start him on antibiotics and he may require surgery to remove the abscess.
Hi, my name is Jacqui, I just found your site now and I need your help desperately please!!
My Iguana, Picasso is around 5 or 6 years, and I’d say about 2 metres long! A month ago he escaped from his enclosure and has been living in my garden up in the trees. I have put food down for him but can see he hasn’t been eating much at all!
Yesterday he managed to jump my 3 metre wall with electric fencing?? A neighbour saw him ‘sun tanning’ in the middle of our street! Worried he woud be run over he stopped his car along side my Iguana, this frightened Picasso and he ran into the property across our road, which happens to be a school!!
Well needless to say I have searched high and low in the School, surrounding properties too! I’ve been door to door alerting my Iguana may be in their gardens. Shoulkd they see him they must contact me. immediately! Advising them not to try catch or give chase as Iguana will become more terrified and may be aggressive too!
Picasso has been living with us for almost 4 years, he very used to human contact! He has escaped a couple of times and when caught by myself has become aggressive as he Was frightened, using his tail to hit and opening his mouth but has never attempted to bite any of us ever! Picasso was very cross to be returned to his glass cage and showed us so!
I am worried about his safety! What will he survive on, will he eat leaves of trees if any! What if they’re toxic? Also I think he’ll go to top of trees not stay on ground where people, animals and cars are?
Please advise what to do – where to check – will he instinctively go where an Iguana would go – which is thev highest place? I am so scared for him! We live in SA and its summer now, temperaures a high of 30° to a low of 8°. But what about winter temps go as low as -4° to highs of 14° – that’s cold for him, surely he won’t survive?
Please can you advise as soon as you possibly can?
I anticipate your earliest reply!
Jacqui (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Iguanas do well on their own . . . till the temperature drops! They seem to have a second nature what trees they can eat (they are, after all, a tree leaf eating reptile).
I’d post signs around the neighborhood. I’ll bet one of your neighbors will see him and alert you. If the temperatures are hot when you find him try catching him at night when he is cooler (he won’t run as fast and he can’t see well in the dark).
Best of luck! Dr. J
We bought an iguana (Alex) about a month ago, and she/he has been good till now that we just got another one. When we put the new iguana next to Alex it seems like the new one gets happy and its just following Alex. But Alex seems not to like the new one and gets really dark (almost black) when around the new one, and avoids her. Is it bad for Alex to get like that or will they get along after time passes by. What should we do?
As a general rule, iguanas do not like other iguanas. This behavior increases with age. Llittle hatchlings get along well but by the time they are a year old their only interest in other iguanas is breeding and that can be a very violent act. Most people who keep more than one iguana keep them housed separately.
I have had my iguana for a few months now, and Spazzy is still very small. She was loving turnip greens, but I have had issues finding them this time of year and she hasn’t been eating the other greens I have tried. She also is not a fan of fruit and any of the “iguana food” that they sell. Any ideas on some inexpensive other vegetables I could try?
Also, since the beginning we try to hold her, let her roam, and let her swim in a warm tub, but she still is terrified if we even stick our hand in the cage. We handle her on a regular basis just because we know it’s recommended, but I hate to stress her out so much all the time. People have told me she may grow out of it, but it I worry she will stay this way, and although her tail doesn’t cause too much pain right now, I know it will be quite the weapon in the next year or two. Any ideas on how to let her know I am not an enemy? She hasn’t bitten but not for lack of trying.
She is also molting for the first time and I wasn’t sure if I should even try to handle Spazzy during this time.
Thank you for all your help and advice 🙂
Your green friend can eat any “leafy green” vegetable. That is, anything that is leafy and green and does NOT have lettuce in its name. Most like dandelions, mustard greens, kale, turnip greens, etc. Some will eat parsley, cilantro, spinach. You can also feed shredded squash, carrots or sweet potatoes. If you have a garden you can feed rose, nasturtium, squash flowers (or other edible flowers). You can feed green beans, peas and pea pods, snap peas, etc.
That should be a good start.
If your green friend is finicky, make a “salad” with old favorite foods mixed with new foods.
Hi, I found my iguana in my sun room. He was missing for 7 days. I gave him water and heat and he is all better now !!!!!!!!
Great news !
Wow there is a lot of information just be reading the comments!! : ) hahaha
I forgot to mention, that the article is very good informative
I just bought an iguana. Does it matter what color light i use? I have seen blue, white, and red. I would ask my local pet store but they dont even carry the lights lol. I heard from someone that feeding iguanas hibiscus flowers are very good for them its like candy is this true?
Read Care of Iguanas and the comments above. There is lots of discussion on lights and why I recommend a regular heat light for heat and ZooMed’s Repi-Sun 8.0-10.0 for UVb.
Iguanas like eating flowers. I don’t know that they are particularly healthy but there is nothing bad about feeding them as well.
Hi, My name is Monika;
my Iguana appeares to have some white spots on her back right next to her spikes. I’m wondering if it has something to do with her not getting enough light or something like that. Also, she doesn’t appear to really eat sometimes. And when she does eat, she sometimes eat alot. Is that normal? …. Oh and one more thing, she appears to get WAY darker, is that Normal?
Iguanas have several skin problems that may look like white spots. It would be best to have a reptile veterinarian take a look at them.
Appetite in iguanas is greatly influenced by environmental temperature. I’d start by looking at what temperature the environment and the iguana are when her feeding behavior is abnormal.
Lastly, many iguanas skin gets dark when they are upset or cold.
Do iguanas shed their tales? When my iguana grows older will he leave germs behind if i let him roam around the house with my supervision?
Iguanas do not shed their tails. They may regenerate (regrow) their tail if it is broken off.
If you keep your iguana’s cage and litter pan clean and bathe him he will not be a problem roaming your home.
A special note to iguana owners with children. Take special care to clean up after your iguana and I’d recommend against bathing or allowing them to swim in the bath tub used by infant or young children. Although rare (in my experience) some iguanas do carry bad bacteria including Salmonella. Children are more likely to pick up these infections and more likely to have bad disease if they do so.
I have a 13 yr old iguana. He’s always been very healthy, however, a little more then a month ago I noticed that he was losing weight despite the fact that he was still eating regularly and has NEVER had any animal protein. I discovered a bladder stone and had it surgically removed. Afterwards he became more alert and active but still continues to lose weight. he has been slowly dropping weight for about two months now. I was wondering if it would be likely to be a problem with his kidneys. I am at the limits of my knowledge. Any information you can give me will be a huge help
Humm . . . Don’t know what happened to your answer . . .
Thirteen is old for an iguana (true there are some that make it to their 20s but most are lucky to make double digits). What old iguanas die from is renal failure. There are many reasons this is true, but most often that is the organ that wears out first.
You need to have a veterinarian do some diagnostics on your green friend including a uric acid, calcium and phosphorus levels and blood cell counts and protein levels. Iguanas in renal failure will have a high uric acid (over 40) and often will have low calcium and high phosphorous levels. Some will be anemic (low red blood cell count) and have low serum protein levels.
If it is not his kidneys, the blood tests will likely help find a diagnosis.
Best of luck! Dr. J
Hi. My name is Greg and I’m considering purchasing an iguana and was wondering where would I be best served to look for a 2 to 3 year old healthy and friendly lizard
There are hundreds of middle age iguanas at animal shelters and rescue groups. Start there.
I just got me a second Iguana that is about ten inches long. It is starting to get black spots on its body. I am starting to believe it may have parisites. I also have a 3 foot one that as of right not showin.g any spots, but the two have been together. Is there anything I can do to fix the problem? Also at what age can you figure out the sex? Thank you
Your new iguana may now have or may have had mites in the recent past. More likely, it has been kept at too low a temperature (see Care and Feeding of Iguanas and comments above) and has a chronic skin infection caused by its suppressed immune system and lack of regular shedding.
If it is acting sick you need to get it to a veterinarian for care. If its behavior is normal, correct the problems with environment and the problem should resolve on its own.
How do i get my iguana to poop in a litter box?
First, teach her to use a tray in her cage with a very small amount of water in it (~1/2 inch). Pooping in the water is a natural behavior for iguanas.
Once she is using the tray you can (gradually, a little every day) move it to where you want her to use it (like down the hall and into the bathroom).
Best of luck! Dr. J
BTW: I have a client who’s iguana goes to the bathroom in the toilet that was trained this way!)
I was wondering if my iguana could withstand a ride from Louisville to Lexington if i held it or sumething?
In a box or pet carrier in a car it would do fine (most of the Green Iguanas sold in pet shops are shipped from Columbia in cardboard boxes as little hatchlings).
Now if you are talking about a ride on horseback, or on a bicycle, that may be a different story !!!! 😉
Hey, I just want to know if my iguana can eat the herbs “mint” and “flat leaf parsley”?? I found my iguana and she wasnt in the best shape when I did but I’ve had her a year now and shes healthy and much better now but im trying her with different food so just wanted to know if these was OK. Please and thanks.
Sure, those are fine to feed (I’m not sure that she will like them, however).
Pretty much anything that is a leafy green vegetable is OK, flowers are OK, Shredded or cooked squash is OK. Edible trees (they would eat tree leaves in the wild). Etc., etc., etc.
In New Jersey in the summer it is hot and humid. If I let my iguana live in the sunroom with daily food and water and screens for him to climb and with no places for him to hide is this safe.
Add a bunch of leafy house plants (I’d suggest Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and it sounds like iguana heaven !!!
My iguana has not been eating very much for the past week to two weeks. Is this ok? I have noticed he has lost some weight but he is still climbing and walking around my house daily when I get home and let him out. Should i be worried?
Iguanas should eat every day. His not eating is reason to worry.
First you should make sure he and his environment is at the proper temperature and correct that if the temperature is too cold. If that is not the problem you should have him seen by a veterinarian.
Hi! My brother’s iguana Steve-o’s right arm cant move as much but still has the strangth to move it but not as much what should I do? Steve-o still eats the same but I think that he injured his arm.
Lot of possible causes. The most likely in a young iguana is metabolic bone disease (MBD). Iguanas with MBD lood like little weight lifting guys with big swollen legs. Other possible causes are fractures (or partial fractures) and infections.
Best if your brother gets his green friend to the vet !!!
Hey my Turk is doing well. I was wondering what you thought of the bagged wet iguana food I bought at Petsmart. it’s easier to feed him he seems to like it what dp you think doc?
I have not used it myself but we see iguanas at the Hospital that are eating it. I think of it as “Iguana Fast Food.” Might do in a pinch but I’d recommend fresh (better fiber content and less likely to have deficiency or over supplementation problems).
I saw on a website that there are uvb lights only for 20 dollars (not 60 dollars). It’s 10.0 light. is this enough for my male 6 month old iguana.
If it is a name brand light, such as ZooMed, or Exo Terra, it should be fine. Stay away from the mercury vapor bulbs.
I’m worried that my son’s iguana doesn’t want to eat.
Me too !!!
Read through the Care of Iguanas above and the Comments above and I’m sure you’ll find dome things that will help. If you know that the environment is right and it is still not eating, have a veterinarian take a look.
Cheers, Dr. J
We have had our Izzy Iguana for about a month. I have noticed all he seams to do is sleep and he looks like he is loosing weight and color. I feed him daily a mixture of greens and carrots, or beans or peppers or anything else I think he may like and make sure I spray the calcium stuff on his food. he seams to eat ok I guess. I think I give him too much because there is always some left over.
He gets plenty of natural light and I have a light for him on his cage… he also has a heat pad under his aquarium.
He likes the fruit, although he doesn’t seem to eat much of it.
Is it normal for him to loose weight? I want to make sure hes healthy and happy. Please help.
If he is young, he shuld be growing like a weed. In the wild, green iguanas grow 3 inches a month, 3 feet in their first year! In captivity we would like to see them grow at least 2 inches a month, 2 feet per year.
Make certain that your environment is the right temperature. I recommend getting an infrared thermometer because of the ease of use.
If your temperatures are right then you should have your iguana seen by a knowledgeable veterinarian. Take a fresh fecal sample with you to the exam so that they can check for intestinal parasites.
I have an iguana that was eating really healthy and now he doesn’t seem to eat as much it seems as if he’s loosing weight and also I picked him up today and realized he has a small hard growth on his lower left side of his jaw. I have been looking an don’t know what it would be or what I could do to fix the problem
Most of the jaw bone swelling is fibrous osteodystrophy secondary to metabolic bone disease (MBD). MBD is secondary to low environmental temperatures, low UVb levels and low calcium diets. Other causes include jaw fractures and abscesses. The pain associated with the jaw lesion and or low environmental temperatures are the likely cause of your iguana not eating.
You need to take your iguana to a veterinarian knowledgeable in reptile medicine. He has a good chance of recovery if you address the problem and its underlying causes.
Alot of my friends have had iguanas and when they got older they started to hate their owners. I hold my iguana 15 minutes a day and I feed by hand sometime. Will he grow up to hate me?
I just got an iguana. I have the basking lamp and a UV lamp. Do I turn both of them off at night or does the UV light stay on all the time?
I’d recommend turning them both off and using an under tank heater or ceramic heater to provide heat at night.
One of my iguanas, the smaller one, came with bumps growing under his skin and on his tail that are black and big. What does it mean?
These are typically abscesses that form in and under iguana’s skin when they are kept in poor conditions (cold and dirty). They will typically recover from the infection if conditions are corrected and the iguana treated with antibiotics. Best if you were to have your veterinarian take a look and get it started on antibiotics.
Two questions about iguanas:
My little green iguana loves to eat and often eats all the food I give her (mostly romaine or leaf lettuce, some tomato, occasional fruit). It’s nice to see her fattening up, but I just wanted to know if it’s possible for her to eat too much. Do they limit themselves? If I need to limit how much she eats, how can I determine how much to feed her? She’s still very small– about 3.5 inches from nose to base of tail– but I want to encourage her to grow, too. One other question– are there any fruits I should not feed her? I live in Central America, so we have papaya (which she gobbled up the one time I fed it to her), mango, avocado, banana and other tropicals, as well as imported apples, grapes, kiwi, etc.
Your iguana will not eat so much that it hurts itself. I would recommend that you feed more substantial greens. There are many local trees that your iguana could eat. If you feed green from the store, feed dark greens: collards, kale, mustard greens, carrot tops, beat tops etc. Sweet fruits should be thought of as a treat / supplement to the diet of greens.
Thanks so much! This site is great! I’ll be adding mango leaves, banana leaves and cashew leaves to her diet.
Do iguanas absorb the uvb from sun light coming through a window?
Window glass filters most (more than 90%) of the UV radiation from sun light.. Many windows are made to filter UV and filter up to 99%.
Our iguana has a lump in it’s mouth that has some puss and a little blood on it. I think she just ate something a little too sharp and cut her lip inside. My boyfriend on the other hand is freaking out that she has some kind of disease. If you have any ideas or suggestions let me know.
Oral (mouth) abscesses are common in iguanas. They should be treated with antibiotics and, in some cases, cleaning or surgery. It would be best to have your reptile veterinarian take a look.
I love my little iguana, his name is Eli, he’s about 4 months old. I got him a 150 watt red lightbulb. He seems very scared and is walking around slowly and ‘stealthily’ looking. I understand that they can’t see the red spectrum, but I’m not sure if he’s too hot or just nervus. Any advice?
Check the temperatures in his environment and adjust the light (use a dimmer switch) to get the correct temperatures. Basking site (hottest spot under the light) should be 110*-115* F and air temperature ~80*F.
Young iguana hatchlings are preyed upon (and eaten!) by many other kinds of animals. It is normal for them to be”stealthy.”
By the way, they see color very well, including reds (commonly misconception promoted by pet shops that sell red light!)
How many hours should iguana sleep?
I recommend that you provide long days (14 hours) and short nights (10 hours). That said, iguanas sleep when it’s dark but also nap throughout the day.
My 2 year old iguana is very aggressive. Is there anything I can do calm him down ?
The more time he is around people the better he will be, however he will always be untrustworthy. Always handle him in a safe manner to prevent you being injured by him.
I am Rosma,from Malaysia.
I am really worried with my iguana. She is 2 years old and her name is JLo. My problem is that she does’t want to eat on her own; it seems like she has lost her appetite. I have to forced her to eat by opening her mouth and insert green leaf. I don’t want to force her because I feel so mean. But there’s nothing that I can do. She also doesn’t want to be in her cage anymore, she wants to be free in the house. Now, she’s sleeping on my bed, next to me,under the pillow.
She’s also more active than before. She will go and walk to all rooms and place in the house.
She also will go out if she sees the door or window is open.
It’s okay if she’s becoming more active, but I am really worried with her appetite. I can’t forced her to eat forever rite?
Oh yes, and her color on the upper body is brownish,like light brown and sometimes turned light orange but then the light orange will fade but the light brown is still there..the half lower part is light green with black/ dark blue lines under her belly…
As always, he first thing you need to do is to assure that her environment is warm enough (I don’t think that would be a problem in Malaysia, but low temperature is the most common cause of not eating.
If you are certain that your green friend is female, there is a chance that she is gravid (producing eggs). That would explain her walking the house (looking for a place to lay them). If you can get a radiograph (x-ray), that would confirm that she is gravid. Some times you can see the shape of the eggs as they press against the abdominal wall. If this is a possibility, make her a egg laying chamber (a bucket just big enough for her to fit into with soft soil in a warm place).
Let us know what you find. Cheers! Dr. J
Hi. I bought a green iguana on sunaday. Hes’ very very tame and he seems fine, but, I put a 100 watt bulb in last night and with in 10 minutes I went 2 get him out and he whipped me. He’s the same this morning, but he’s fine when he’s out (tame wise) is it 2 hot for him?
First things you need to do is check your temperatures with a reliable thermometer and observe his behavior while in the enclosure.
Not always what new owners want to hear, but the aggressive behavior is a good sign. I’m guessing that he was more docile before you added the light because he was too cold.
Read above for proper cage set up and temperatures.
Best of luck! Dr. J
Hi! My iguana’s body smells so bad how do I fix that ?
A healthy iguana should not smell bad. If it has been cold for some time it may have developed a skin infection (that would smell bad). The treatment for that is to correct the environment and see a veterinarian for antibiotics.
It xould smell bad if it is dirty from a poorly cared for environment. If that were the case, clean up the environment and give the iguana a bath in a mild, no tears shampoo (such as baby shampoo).
I have an ijuana and I dont know what wrong. He cannot move his legs and tail. Is it just because it is cold? What do I need for him to be normal because I don’t want anything to happend to him. I love iguanas!
Cesar. I would recommend that you try good supportive care (warm him up to the recommended temperatures, get him to eat, etc.). If he does not improve with a day or so of support you need to have a veterinarian take a look at him. He may have broken his back (common in green iguanas, especially if they have metabolic bone disease.
Best of luck, Dr. J
Hi, i just recently adopted a young iguana. She is very mean/aggressive when you try to pick her up though she calms down after about 5 minutes of being held. And even after she calms down, she freaks out if anything moves towards her or if the hand i hold her with moves. Do you have any suggestions that could possibly help me take care of/tame her?
As you will see from my above postings, healthy iguanas are aggressive and dominant / domineering in their behavior. Repeated handling will improve the situation, but you can never trust an iguana not to bite, scratch or whip you. Large adult animals can cause disfiguring injuries and significant infections.
That said, enjoy your iguana for what it is and understand that it is NOT a puppy or a kitten!
She isn’t but about a year old. She has been abused and is only about 10 inches long. So I think the abuse has caused her a growth problem. And with her having been abused, how will I be able to make her a good pet?
Lets get her set up correctly and eating and the “good pet” will come with time.
My iguana won’t eat and always try’s to get out when no one is around , I just got some crickets to see if he would eat them, but no, they walk all over him. The last 2 days he has not been moving aroung unless I make him. I need help and i need it now.
My guess is that your green friend is too cold or too hot. Get a thermometer you trust (a cooking thermometer, that you can get from any cooking store or even some grocery stores, will do. Check the temperatures in it’s basking spot and sleeping area in it’s enclosure. See correct temps above. Try “soaking” it in warm (90*-95*F water (just deep enough to cover bottom 1/4 of its body so that it doesn’t drown). If its really looking bad, you need to find a veterinarian to help!
The other day my iguana tried to get out and got stuck hanging upside down on the gate by his nails.
Not sure what your question is but . . . TRUE, nothing can get itself into a predicament like an iguana !!!
OK I checked it. It is at 82* right now in the tank. I have a red light and I also don’t know what I should feed him. I look at a couple things your told some of these people. I have juvenile iguana food I dont think he likes. Should i take the crickets out of the tank? I have someone at the the store now what should I tell them to get? I have the kit that came with the thermometer and the light and everything. I clean the tank every two days, clean water everday. I had a girl iguana inthe tank with him but only because I was moving and he seem to be fine around her. When I placed him in the tank thats when all the started.
Alright, 82* is likely too cold. But do check the hot spot (right under the light) we want that spot to be 110*-115*F and we want air temperature in the tank to be 80*-85*.
Iguanas are herbivores. They eat dark leafy green vegetables (collard greens, kale, dandelions, mustard greens, chard, parsley, cilantro, etc.). They like sweet fruits (bananas, berries, etc.) but these foods should be offered as a treat (not the main item in the diet).
Do the soak (water no hotter than 95*F when you start) and see how it does.
Good luck, Dr. J
OK, so what is the main food should I give?
. . . dark leafy green vegetables (collard greens, kale, dandelions, mustard greens, chard, parsley, cilantro, etc., sweet fruits (bananas, berries, etc.) but offered as a treat (not the main item in the diet).
Doc my juvenile iguana broke it’s little toe climbing on his wire ceiling. Caught his claw on wire and jumping down. What can I do?
Iguanas are hard on their toes. When I was in Central America most of the large adult iguanas we caught had broken or missing toes.
If the toe is intact (no cuts or missing parts) it will likely heal with time. A veterinarian can splint it and it may heal in a more normal position. If it is lacerated (cut) or missing parts, it would be best to see a veterinarian. He may be able to sew it up but some need to have the damaged part amputated.
The good news is that he will do fine in time either way!
Best of luck. Dr. J
I have an iguana and I think he is really ill but I am not sure what is the cause. He twitches a lot and doesn’t eat. We have to force feed him to get any nutrition. Heat lamp tends to make is worse. Any ideas what it is and what i can do to make him feel better and back to normal?
The most likely cause is low calcium levels causes by what is properly called hyperparathyroidism. If he is a young hatchling, the cause is likely due to low calcium or too high phospherus in the diet, low vitamin D from lack of UVb lighting low environmental temperatures, or most often a combination of all of the above. Some of the little guys are able to recover from this situations but many are not.
If your iguana is an adult (over a year or two old), the most likely cause is secondary renal hyperparathyroidism caused by renal (kidney) failure. The prognosis for adults is much worse than that for young iguanas, but we do get some of their kidneys working with fluids and supportive care.
Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose what is going on by taking a blood sample and checking uric acid, calcium and phosphorus levels.
Hope things work out. Let us know what you find out.
Help my green friends! I kept two of them in one cage and one of them died last night. He was very weak for 2 days and turned a brown color. Now I am scared that the other one will die. Can someone Help me please?
If you can find a qualified veterinarian or diagnostic lab (your local government may provide this service for little or no money) to provide a necropsy (an animal autopsy) you could find the exact cause of death of your iguana.
In the meanwhile, correct any environmental or husbandry problems you may have (read the Care and Feeding of Iguanas and the posts above). If you can not find a veterinarian that has experience with reptiles, find a veterinarian willing to work with you and we are happy to consult with them to make sure your get the best care possible.
His toe is healing up quite well, in fact it’s straitened out a bit. I’m glad.
I guess if he wasn’t healthy, his toe wouldn’t have healed up so fast?! I have him on a sweet peas,mixed dark salad leafs and orange squash he seems happy. Thanks Doc!
We just got a female juvenile green. About 20″. I have been feeding it romain, red leaf, green leaf, butter lettuce, escarole, radicchio, and endive lettuces with juvenile iguana food. We have a 60w basking light, 1/3 tank heater, stick on under. We have sticks. But, we have her on medium rounded natural rocks. Any reason to not use rocks? And what size iguana/cage ratio should be used? We have her in a 20 gal now. what about bathing the iguana? Is tap water ok? Should we dechlorinate first? How deep should we go? I hear they are great swimmers, should it be deep enough to go all the way under? Also, energy and eating seem great. But not going to the bathroom everyday. Should we be concerned? Thanks
Bryan, READ the Care and Feeding of Iguanas (above). Lettuces are not an adequate diet for your iguana and I do not like the commercial diets (WAY too many problems with young iguanas eating them). Stick to “dark leafy greens,” vegetables that are “leafy and green” and
have “lettuce” in their name.
The stones ar OK but likely increase the amount of work you will have to do to keep the environment clean and hygenic. They will need to be removed, washed, and sterilized occasionally.
20 gallon tank is a good start. A well kept iguana grows between 2-3 inches a month (in the wild they go from 6″ at hatch to ~42″ by the end of their first year!) so it will grow out of that tank pretty fast. Many adult iguanas are housed in vinyl covered wire cages or home made wood and plastic panel enclosures.
Iguanas like to swim and are good swimmers. More important they will use a pan with a small amount of water in it as a litter pan, making cage care much easier. I’d recommend getting a plastic tub or kid’s pool for your iguana. If you let it swim in the bath tub, be sure to clean the tub with a chlorine based cleaner (Ajax, Comet cleaner) or wash with a detergent and rinse with a dilute bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water). The bath tub is the most common place for people to catch Salmonella from iguanas. This is especially true for infants and children.
If you follow the directions above your iguana should do great !!!
I got an iguana for Christmas and it was eating well. Now it looks like it has lost some weight. I have made the environment better because I have read the previous comments. My concern is the way it opens its mouth like it is gasping for air sometimes. Also he had mites in his aquarium. I washed everything with bleach to sterilize it and boiled his sticks. Do the mites become a hazard to my family?
Sounds like you are pretty much on top of things. Iguanas will “gape,” sit with their mouths open, when they are basking and nice and hot. I have photographs somewhere of green iguanas basking midday in Guatemala when the temperature in the sun must have been close to 150*F They did not bask for long and they were gaping.
If the temperature in your environment is too hot they will be very agitated and run around trying to find a cool spot.
The mites (if they are the common snake mite, Ophionyssus natricis) are reptile specific.
Here is Melissa Kaplan’s excellent review of how to treat mites in your environments.
Hi! My iguana has just started to have swelling in his lip. Do I get him a UVb light and will that would cure him or should I go to a vet?
If everything else is good (eating well, growing at good rate (~2 inches a month), shedding somewhere all the time, etc.) you may be OK fixing his temperature and UV. If that is not the case you may be better seeing a knowledgeable reptile vet.
Hey, it’s my first time to have an iguana. My boyfriend got me baby one and I named him Ratchet. I am scared i am not giving him all he needs. I give him moist romain lettuce with mixed vegies-green beans,peas,carrots.he seems to like it he also eats it out of my hand. I keep food and water in his cage, but I DO not quiet understanding the tempature thing. I have a 65 watt plant lamp on him until I can get the right bulbs he needs. Is it okay to do so, and for how long? Will you please help m?
As above. Feed “dark leafy greens,” vegetables that are green and leafy and DO NOT have lettuce in their name. The bag greens are typically young plants and do not have as much nutrition as the full sized plant version.
Provide heat with a 125 watt, infrared heat lamp in a simple aluminum fixture attached to a dimmer switch so that you can adjust the temperature. You should be able to get everything at your local hardware store. It should look like this . . .
Here is the fixture . . .
Here is a dimmer switch . . .
And I like to use ZooMed’s Light stand . . .
And you need a reliable thermometer. I recommend a Kintrex . . .
Adjust the light with the dimmer so that the temperature in the hottest spot under the light is 110* 30 minutes after it comes on (if you use a lamp timer you won’t have to remember to turn it on every morning and off at night).
You will also need a UVb source. I recommend ZooMed’s Reptisun 10.0 lights. If you have a small enclosure the compact bulbs will work, use the traditional long tubes for larger enclosures . . .
Your heat and UVb lights should be on 14 hours a day while your iguana is small and growing (and it’s OK to keep them on long days it’s whole life.
Hope hat helps.
Also is it okay for me to put regular outside sand or dirt/soil in bottom on his cage until we get the right kind of bedding?
It’s OK but it’s a HUGE hassle! You are better off using news paper or craft paper. It is easy to clean, costs almost nothing, and looks nice !!!
Yes, it helped me a lot. Thank you so much I now have my baby iguanna in a 10 gallon fish tank all warm and cozey,but the tempature is not quiet would it should be for night time. I have a heating pad under his cage on medium and one 75 watt blue night time bulb. Would it be okay if I put two 75 watt night time bulbs on him?? The woman at pet store said it would be enough but I presonally don’t think it is. And, I have notice, when he sleeps sometimes he burrows in his bedding/shavings. Is that natural cause i thought they slept on branches.
We want them to have a 10*F temperature drop at night (so they should be ~80*F where they sleep). If you can’t get that temperature with a pad and light try a higher watt (I’d have you get a 150 watt) ceramic heater and use a dimmer switch (just like the day time heat light) to adjust the temperature.
Baby iguanas are eaten by lots of animals and they do hide at night. In the wild they’d be under bushes, under fallen bark or branches, etc.
My iguana has laid an egg and we don’t want it. What should we do with it and why does it have dents in it/
Some cultures think iguana eggs are delicious !!! So, if you’re not going to serve it up, you can just throw it away (after your friends have had a chance to see it, that is).
Lizards and snakes have soft eggs. They are a bit flabby when they are laid but they “plump up” if they are fertile.
It is odd that your iguana only laid one egg. If she does not lay more (or even if she does) it would be wise to have her checked by your veterinarian.
Yeah, she laid 23 today!!!!!! should i get her checked out today?
If not today, this week.
Congrat’s! Dr. J
My names Anna and i got my iguana from my backyard. It was fighting my pet cat so I took a container and my brother helped captured it. He caught it by tail it was kind of aggressive. I don’t think i can ever tame it. Please I need your help :/
Happy, healthy well kept iguanas have an aggressive attitude. If handled they may become less fearful and less aggressive. They are always a bit dangerous, however and must be treated as such. Still they are fascinating creatures and interesting to keep. I’m not certain that they qualify as “pet” as much as “reptile collection.”
I have a five pound iguana who, until recently, was perfect. She has started to sleep with her nose pushed up against the side of her cage. I did not see any issue with her doing this but she has now developed a flat spot on the tip of her face. i do not know how to reverse this or get her to stop sleeping with her face pushed into the cage. Can you help?
Try putting a plant (real or artificial) against the cage where she puts her face. Iguanas often want to sleep where they feel protected and I suspect she feels less visible when she is smashed against the cage. The plant will give her some cover and, if nothing else, keep her away from the cage.
Can you estimate how long it will take for my iguana to heal his swollen upper jaw now that I have his UVb light? The swelling is not severe right now. I know its low UVb radiation he needs because he is eating normal and he is shedding.
It will take several months, and, to a great extent, he will grow out of the swelling.
that is to say, as he gets larger the swelling will become less and less noticeable.
I have a green iguana that is around 5 years old. He was active yesterday eating drinking and waiting to be scratched. Woke up today and he’s dead and rigor has already settled in. What the heck?
Sorry. It is always shocking when our friends die unexpectedly!
It may be worth the costs to have a necropsy (an animal autopsy) done. A good reptile veterinarian or your local, county or state veterinary laboratory can provide that service. I think that there is no more important part of your pet’s care than to know why they die.
Hi Dr. Jenkins, I have a green iguana of which I bought from a pet shop a few months ago. The sex I am unsure of. I named him/her Spike and he’s about a foot long (not including tale). I did not have the correct temperature for Spike until now. His tank was previously at a temperature of 85 under his heating area which I then placed a heating mat underneath and it has brought it up to 102 which is now good, correct? The problem is, recentley Spike had been opening his/her mouth alot before getting his/her heat up and Spikes rectum area just before the tale is swollen and possibley at his/her sides a bit aswell. Spike has not eaten for about a day and a half and it’s starting to worry me I aslo don’t understand why Spike would be opening his mouth when its not hot. The heat as I said has just gone up, and I am misting frequentley aswell as bathing him/her in a 90 degree temp, which last night and tonight I tried rubbing his belly to help out with what seems to me to be constipation, but I have only gotten a little bit of a white secretion and he was tooting it up LOL. The food Spike eats is a mix of 2 products that I use, one is reptile food called exo terra pellets for juveniles and the other food he eats is a container of mixed veggies that I by from the grocery store and chop up in tiny peices.The vegetables included in this container are as follows: Baby Lettuces- Green tango, Red Tango, Green Leaf, Little Gem, Green Romain, Green Oak, Red Fire, Red Oak. Baby Greens- Green Spinach, Red Spinach, Green Chard, Red Chard, Beet Tops, Mizuna, Red Mustard, Tatsoi, Arugula. Chicories: Radicchio, Frisee. On occassion Spike also gets frozen peas and carrots that a defrost in warm water and very little amounts of bananna and strawberries the odd time. Is there anything you could suggest as to why Spike is swollen and opening his mouth? Also he only moves from one favorite stick under his heating lamp and then on another stick in his cooler area and unless he goes to eat thats all he moves in a day is that abnormal? PLEASE Help 🙁
Wow, that’s a lot of information.
Double check your temperatures. The basking site should be in the 110*-115* range but he must me able to get out of that temperature. The rest of the enclosure should be in the 80*-90* range. If he’s seems aggravated, try dropping the temperature 5*F.
Ok thank you very much and sorry about the long message 🙂 I just wanted to make sure I gave you as much info as possible as I didn’t want to leave anything out that could have been important. Is it possible for an iguana’s side to have a bulging spot caused from gas build up from switching his food from full greens to pellets and greens? It doesn’t seem to bother him when you rub it though? I dunno I just don’t want him to die 🙁
No problem, I appreciate getting the whole story.
Iguanas are designed to “ferment” plant material, so there is a chance that if the pellets had a more simple carbohydrate it would produce some gas. That said, I would expect it to come and go with meals and not be there all the time. May also be that he likes the pellets (common) and over eats them and what you are seeing is just an over full stomach.
We see a lot of problems in iguanas eating the pellets and do not recommend them. I’d prefer that you feed just a variety of dark greens.
Cheers, Dr. J
I have 3 green iguana’s and 1 red iguana. The green ones are perfectly fine and seem to be doing well in their environment. I have a ceramic heat emitter, a UVB bulb, and a fogger that leads into the water bowl. I can get the humidity to go over 70% but I can’t get it to reach 100. It stays over 80 degrees in there during the day and about 70 at night when I turn the lights and heat off. My problem is that my red Iguana isn’t shedding like it is supposed to and it won’t gain any weight!! He is still the same size that he was when we got him but the others have grown quite a bit. We got him before we got the others. He showed signs of MBD a few months ago but it seemed to get better when I changed his diet. Now he is showing signs of it again on a different leg. He seems to be the only one that I am having problems with besides an incedent with another ones tail. What can I do to get him to gain weight and get the dead skin off of his dewlap and his sholders? Please help!!!!!!
I forgot to mention that his diet is strictly iguana safe vegetables. I had them on mustard greens for two weeks, before that I had them on mango and acorn squash, and now I have them on snap peas. I like to keep them on a certain food for a while to see how they react to it since I am a first time iguana owner. I have been doing alot of research on them. I currently don’t know what their basking temp is but I assume it is sutable for them because I let them explore the cage at different levels and they found that laying on top of the light fixtures (which is warm not hot) suites them. Isaac (the red one) is the only one who I haven’t seen up there. He lays on the fogger alot.
Same answer. You need to get a good IR thermometer, check and correct your temp’s.
The easy answer is that your red friend should be worked up. Bring a fecal sample and digital pictures of your enclosure would help. That said, the majority of animals that do not grow and shed are too cold. Read the above for recommended temperatures.
What wattage heat lamp, UVB bulb and basking bulb would your recommend with a tank that is 57 in wide x 24 in deep x 32 in tall holding four baby iguanas. We have a log in there that they can bask on to reach the heat and basking bulb. It comes up a little over half of the side of the tank. As of right now we have the bulbs in a vanity light over top the cage because the ceramic canisters weren’t putting enough heat into the cage. The wood was just absorbing it. They climb up on the vanity light to get warm. We also have a fogger and we fill it up in the morning and evening but we can’t get the humidity to reach 100% it usually stays about 70%. I have been putting Isaac in the water bowl that the fogger is leading to so he can try to soak all the dead skin off.
It depends slightly on the temperature of the room where the cage is kept, but in general, I’d recommend a 125 watt infrared heat light and a 4 foot Reptisun 8.0 UVb light. I’d cover the heat light with welded wire (so they cannot jump onto the hotter heat lamp and burn themselves.
What do you know about chinese water dragons because my iguana pickles died of MBD and i got a Chinese Water Dragon named Zelda and i need to know how to take care of it! Thank You! 🙂
Water dragons require much the same environment as iguanas. Temperatures should be the same. They enjoy a place to get in the water and being misted twice daily (morning and mid afternoon). Diet is more challenging (they eat insects). Milissa Kaplan’s Care Sheet is good (I think the temperatures are a bit low!)
Hi. My boyfriend and I just saved an iguana from a guy that was, well not mentally stable. We have named him Lynard. I’m not sure how old he is or anything but he has a very weird blackish growth under is right eye. its pretty rough looking and its actually so big that he cant even open his eye. It’s so sad I just want to get him back to good health and keep him but I’m scared I’m going to lose him. My boyfriend and I are animal lovers and just want to help Lynard!!! I need help….bad!
Lynard likely has an abscess from an old wound, they are common in iguanas that are not well kept.
You can start by getting your new friend an appropriate environment. Read Care and Feeding of Iguanas here
You will likely need to get some antibiotics. Most iguana medication are injectable and you will need to get that from your vet. In the meanwhile you can “hot pack” the area with a warm wet wash cloth daily for as long as you and he can stand you to do it.
My Iguana is very sick. He stopped eating and his color is changing yellowish, also his back legs are swollen. What can I do?
You need to get him to a good veterinarian with reptile experience.
If this is a small / young iguana it may be suffering from calcium metabolism problems (Metabolic Bone Disease or MBD).
MBD is treated with injections of fluids, calcium and supportive care, then correction of underlying husbandry problems, heat, UV and diet.
Thanks! My iguana does not have a swollen lip anymore. I bought him a slimline UVb light and it works realy good.
Hi. We just got our 11 yr old a little iguana, and for the past couple of days he hasn’t eaten much. I’ve cleaned out his food bowl and noticed that his food is still in it. I’ve put in shredded carrot, parsley and the frozen veggies. We have him in a stand up cage thats well over 5 ft tall. All he wants to do is lay under the heat lights. We try to get him out and hold him but he hisses at us and we can’t get him out. We also mist him and his cage,. What else should we do????
First, read the Care and Feeding of Iguanas (above) and the posts. If he is laying under his light for more than 15-20 minutes at a time the basking area is not hot enough. Think of it as being in a hot tub. If the hot tub is too hot you get out as soon as you get in. If it’s too cold you may be able to stay in, but it’s never very fulfillng. If it’s just the right temperature you can stay 15-20 minutes, but then you start to feel warm and you need to get out for a while (or go jump into the cool pool !!!) Let us know how he does after you get his cage to the correct temperatures.
I have a chinese water dragon and an iguana, the dragon keeps rubbing his nose on either the glass (tank) or even the new mesh (tank like) and gets his nose bloody why is he doing this ?? I put triple on the underside of his neck and it seems to be getting better I think mouth rot was starting also because of this ( he will have his mouth open all the time as if to breathe, am I doing the right thing for him like I said it seems to be working.
Face trauma in water dragons is most commonly caused by lack of cover and hiding spots. Try adding live of washable synthetic plants to the enclosure and see if your green friend is less jumpy.
That said, it sounds like your little guy is in pretty bad shape and would benefit from a visit to your local reptile veterinarian.
Also, their environmental needs are very similar to to those of an iguana. They like a bit more humidity (spray them twice daily and or add a bubbler in their water) and they like to have a water source large and deep enough that they can get in and soak.
Best of luck, Dr. J
My iguana joy is closing 1 eye while sleeping. Is that normal??
Normally they would sleep with both shut. Watch to see if he can blink that eye and look to see if there are signs or a problem. Swelling, redness, discharge.
I have a sulcata tortioes and he keeps flashing his penis is that normal?
Guess I need to get busy on that Sulcata page !!!
Yes, that is a common behavior of male Sulcatas.
When I take my iguana outside for some sunlight is it ok that his colors on his body get darker?
Yes, but be careful that he does not get overheated while out. Make sure he has a shady place to get out of the direct sun.
I have three iggies and when they go outsidde they all ways change in color. my male Mejor he gets really realy green wth bright orange feet or can turn all most a dark grey in color. My lady, she gets to a bright orange with some light green and black to dark grey striping. My baby just stays a light color bright green. So I believe that it is very normal. Also, when given orages or tangerines they both are orange. And all three stay together in one cage and they have lived like that for years, 8 plus ,with no real issues.
They turn a better color because the conditions outdoors are better and they are happy to be outside. If their color indoors is dark and drab you should check and correct temperatures in your environment.
Is it okay to give my iguana a little bit of plain yogurt for his bones to be strong? He seems to like it.
It’s not as good a calcium source as the dark greens, but yes, he can have a small amount as a treat and it will not hurt him.
They all so like chewy ganola bars specialy strawberry and peach.. We all ways share one in the mornings while I drink my coffee.
That’s fine as long as the volume you are talking about would be considered a “treat” and not a significant amount of the calories that they consume.
I have 2 iguanas and I picked up there shelter rock and one was acting dead. Didnt look like he was breathing but when I picked him up he moved but was acting weird! Why’s that?
There is a good chance that your iguana is near death. You must get it to a veterinarian as soon as possible!
My family just got an iguana, he is six years old. When we got him to our house he did not want to be handled. We tried to get it to come out of the cage, but when my or my fiancee go to get him he puffs up. Is there anything that we can do? Any comment will help.
He will get better as he becomes more familiar with you and your family. Handle him gently and often. Feed him after each time you handle him so he associates the handling with something positive.
I’ve had my iguana for 11yrs now & he’s always been in good health. Three months ago I moved to a new apt & he has gradually become more lethargic & developed strange behaviors. I now find him under his ramp instead of on it, he also has been falling over on to his back & then freaking out. He still eats & I keep his daily/weekly routine but he seems depressed. I used to live with 4 other people who were always in & out but now its just me & my roomate & we both work long hours. Is it possible that he misses the company & noise or could he be sick.
At 11 years there are many possible causes for his change in behavior. If you are sure his environment is good, I would recommend seeing a veterinarian and having a blood test done (CBC and blood chemistry). Iguanas are not particularly social, so I doubt that he misses the activity in your home.
I have a few concerns for my iguana he about 2 yrs old. We moved to a new home back in september and he was eating, drinking, shedding, using the restrooom fine. Everything was good well in the past six months he has quit shedding ??? Weird. Iggy hates being his cage this started about 2 months ago I really don’t know what to do with him because when I put him back in the cage so he can get his rays he turns dark greens it’s scary. I put him back in the cage 15 hrs ago and he’s dark green again. His color hasn’t changed at all and it normally does immediately after he get out of the cage. I’m really nervous for him. He still is very active he eats and drinks and uses the bathroom still . Just not shedding does not want to be in the cage and when he is he turns dark green. Any suggestions. PLZ Thank you:)
First, check your temperatures. If the enclosure is too hot or too cold he will be unhappy.
I have a green iguana that I got from a pet store. Before I got her, she was very sick and black the pet store took her to the vet and gave her meds. She seams to be doing better but how do I get her to go back from the black she is to the green she needs to be? When I try to get her out of her cage she runs from me and jumps all over the place and won’t let me get her (but she will let my boyfriend just walk up and pick her up and love on her). How can I get my little baby love me too and get green again?
The solution is to correct the problems of her environment that led to her getting sick in the first place. Follow the instructions above closely and your green friend will do fine. Handle her regularly and she will be less crazy, but be careful!
Is it good to feed iguanas green plants?
Yep !!! See above ^^^^
I got my red iguana about a week ago and 3 days later he died. I was wondering what caused his death.
I left him on the window with trees hanging out so he can cool off but when I came back to check up on him he was on the floor helpless. People say it was caused by overheat but my dad said also he could’ve been stressed out.
I have a red iguana now. How should i take care of it?
“Red iguanas” are simply a color variation of the green iguana. Follow all the instructions above and you will be fine.
Sorry to hear about your loss. There are many many possible causes of your new iguana’s death. To tell for certain you would need to have a post mortem examination done on him. If it was very hot on the window sill, he could have overheated, but it would have had to be very hot and he would have had to be unable to move away from the heat.
Hey my iguana is now 9 months. He is very healthy, he is eating, going to the bathroom and everything, but I noticed black spots near his nose. I don’t know if he is dirty or if he has parasits. Can u help?
Black spots are caused by the green color rubbing off the scale.
I have got my baby iguana about a week ago, when will I know if it is a male or female?
What will be the best to start now to make him/her tame and not aggresive? The does and the dont?
He/she loves cooked pumkin, is this ok? (no sugar, etc added) only boiled and love it
Your new iguana can be sexed by an expert (using a probe) at any age, you should be able to see the swellings from the hemi-penes and the changes of the femoral pores at ~1 year.
The best thing you can do to help make /keep him tame is to handle him. Remember, big iguanas don’t have a very big brain and if they are frightened they can bite and cause significant wounds. Never think that he will not bite you!
The pumpkin is fine as part of hie diet. The main component should always be “dark leafy green vegetables.”
Hey my iguana has black small spots near his nose. Is it because he needs a bath or if its a burn mark. I don’t know. Can you help?
Black spots are most often due to trauma or damage to the surface of one or more scales. The color (green) is like paint on a black wall. If the black area increases in size or if there are other signs your iguana is not healthy, it should be seen by a veterinarian.
I am interested in purchasing an iguana in the near future. But we were also interested in purchasing another type of lizard or two. Would this be a good idea, bad idea, or does it just depend on some different factors? Also, do iguanas have to be kept caged, or would we be able to let them roam when we are home?
Iguanas are often aggressive towards other iguanas and other lizards (there are few exceptions). If you are thinking of keeping more than one iguana, you will likely need multiple cages / environments. If you are thinking of having more than one kind of lizard, that is fine, but again, you will need to provide caging for each lizard (again there are exceptions but few).
Iguanas do OK out of a cage as long as you provide, and they will use appropriate basking sites and UV lighting. It is more difficult, however, to provide a healthy environment when you have control of only a very small portion of that environment.
I have a red iguana, I just got it. My question is, why does it lay under the light with his mouth open? Is he ok or is there something wrong?
Basking with their mouth open is a common iguana behavior. If the basking site was too hot he would move away. If it’s too cold he will lay there for long periods of time. He should bask for 15-20 minutes then go about his business.
We have two red iguanas we purchased for our kids and they had them since last year. One looks healty but one of his eyes was swollen for about two to three months but later went down after my husband played doctor and did minor surgery on it. The other iguana looks like he is on his last leg, it wont eat, drink and cant hardly move and his jaw is swollen. What should we do. Help
Take him to a veterinarian knowledgeable in reptile medicine!
The change in his jaw is most likely from metabolic bone disease, caused by low temperatures, inadequate UVb, and poor diet.
My little brother got a baby iguana about 3 weeks ago. Everyone loves Rango. I noticed that the area around his nose is turning a different color thanh usual. What could be the problem?? He also sleeps most of the day.
If he has an adequate environment (as above) the change may be from that portion of his skin starting to shed.
We have just taken in an iguana from my childs school and from what we have learned about it, the teacher was doing all the wrong things, like having it live in sand and tan bark and feeding it just pure lettuce. We have changes all of its environment, but can you suggest a good vet near Anthem, Arizona, which is just above Phoenix, as we take great care of the rest of our pets and we want it to see a Vet, so we know what we are facing. We are in the process of building it a big cage for outside and inside, but we want him/her to be seen by a Vet to make sure everything is OK. We have started to change his/her diet to what you have stated.
Look up Dr. Kevin Wright at the Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital.
My iguana eats collard greens everyday but he’s not gaining any weight and hasn’t grown much.
Double check your temperatures, offer a larger volume of food and have a fecal checked for intestinal parasites.
Let us know how things go.
The blackness is going down and he is eating well and he seems to be fine but will it go away all of it the blackness
Should, may take a couple of sheds.
Also, my iguana can’t sleep with the red light I bought him. Will he get used to it?
Just rescued a 4ft iguanna from the highway has a tail wound. It looks like the tail was run over resulting in a chunk of the lower tail cut off. I brought it home cleaned wound put some hydrogen peroxide on it. He’s eating but I noticed his back scales are white; is that normal? Should I do anything else to the tail?
I have been giving him baths daily and he pooped pretty good. Not sure how long he was on his own. He looks more reddish brown. Don’t see any green. He lets me hold him but I’m using extreme care, he seems pretty tame, I just worried about dehydration and his wound. I have had an iguanna before so I am familiar with the care and habitat and diet but have never cared for one this big anything special or tips you could give me?
Iguanas are good patients and the wound should heal OK. If it smells bad or has a pus-like discharge you need to see a veterinarian and get him some antibiotics.
Good luck and thanks for rescuing him !!!
My Iquana as some bumps on her arm, just showed up this morning. They look water filled, any idea what they could be?
It’s challenging to answer this type of question without more information, or pictures.
Iguanas with bacterial skin infections get small bumps (~1 mm) in their skin that are blister like (water filled). Skin burns get larger bumps, blisters that are actually under their skin and water filled. With metabolic bone disease the entire limb may be bumpy. Less likely to be confused with skin and not as likely to feel water filled.
The outlook for each of these is different. The skin infection is treated with correction of environment temperature, topical and systemic antibiotics. Burns may need surgical debridemant, antibiotics and topical treatment,sometimes regular bandaging.
Do you have an email I could send some pictures to? Or could I post them to your facebook page? I just don’t want to take her to the vet and have them tell me it’s nothing. They aren’t small bumps, and there is only 2. These are definitely under the skin, but I can’t think of when she would of been able to get skin burns. It’s too cold where I live right now to let her outside, and her environment doesn’t allow her to touch any of the heat lamps.
Sure! Post them on the Hospital’s Facebook page. The URL is: http://www.facebook.com/aeahsd
I’m a new Iguana owner, I have two. They were given to us. They have eaten lettuce and I’m not sure but is that healthy for them??
Please read the posting and questions above. A diet of lettuce(s) will lead to health /nutritional problems and a very short life for your green friends.
What is the normal TPR on an iguana?
The TPR (temperature, pulse and respiration) are all dependent on the environment. The warmer the environment the higher the TPR.
I know you said 15-20 years but I know a 30 year old iguana that is very fit and healthy.
That’s crazy old for an iguana. The oldest one that I have seen (that the age could be documented) was 24 years old.
It doesn’t surprise me (as many reptiles live very long lives) but it is the oldest I heard.
My iguana is about 1 year old and he is 52 cm long. He is doing okay, but every time I try to handle him, he tries to run in the terrarium. After I take him out, he will be fine and tries to climb up my body. Also, when I let him out in my room he’s never afraid of me and never tries to run, ONLY IN HIS TERRARIUM HE IS AFRAID.
For the last couple of mornings I feel like he is leaning a little bit to the right side, like he doesn’t have much strenght to hold his body still. After minutes he seems fine and does well all day. He eats well too.
I just want to know if any of what i said is normal because live in lebanon and here there isn’t a good veterinarian here.
Thank you in advance!
I think those are all “normal” behaviors for your young iguana. It’s not surprising that he doesn’t want you to tell him he has to leave his safe place, hence, he tries to get away when you go to take him out. The leaning to one side is more difficult to figure out, however, as long as he is OK once he starts moving around, you do not need to worry.
Thank you dr jenkins for your quick and helpfull reply!
I just have one more question!
52cm is good foro e year old?and the size of the cage affects on his growth?
In a study we did on iguanas in Guatemala they grey 3 inches / 7-8 CM a month until reaching their adult length, 5-7 feet / (150-200 CM) for males 4-5 feet (120-150 CM) for females. We would like them to grow at about that rate in captivity.
The cage has only a little effect on growth (until it is just too small for them to fit). Temperature is the most important factor.
Hello Dr. Jenkins,
Unfortunately, I am too late to have came across your site. I know I could’ve asked information in regards to the condition of the late Red Iguana. What we have found out is that it died of kidney failure, she was dosed with medication for milk cow fever? Further probing, they have found out that if only they stopped giving it injections it would’ve lived 🙂
No response needed. Thanks SO much for the outstanding care that you have given my (late) green baby Verklempt, and my living baby, Chevy!
You and your staff inspire a lot of confidence,
All the best! K.
BTW– My email addy is Welsh for “the dragon’s mama.” 😉
I was just wondering if I don’t get my iggy an artifical sunlight bulb will it kill him?
I have a green iguana. How can I tell if Ii have a little boy or a little girl?
As hatchlings, there is no outward difference between male and female iguanas. At this age their sex can only be determined with a probe used to determine the presence of hemipenes passing from the cloaca caudally under the skin of the tail. This is best done by an experienced reptile veterinarian. Older animals are sexed by the presence of large femoral pores and hemipenal swellings on males. Here is an illustration of femoral pores on female iguanas . . .
Here are pictures of a male . . .
As adults, males also have larger heads and necks than females . . .
I have two iguana’s that don’t get along. What can I do so I can put them in the same tank?
It is normal for iguanas to be aggressive towards each other (starting about the time of sexual maturity). If you were to build them a VERY large enclosure they may be able to “stay out of each other’s way,” however, even that is unlikely. In the wild I have seen them leap from limbs in trees 3-4 stories high so that they could scamper up the neighboring tree to fight another iguana!
My son has a green iguana who is about 6-7 months old. Every now and then we notice a bump on his side just below his rib cage. It does not stay there for long, it just seems to disappear after a few minutes but then the bump will come back in a day or two. It almost seems as if something inside him is pushing out and then relaxes. Guacamole (his name) is extremely friendly and likes to be held and eats right out of our hands. He will sit on my son’s desk while he does his homework or sit on the sofa with him while he watches tv. We have had him since he was a month or two old (pet shop said between 4-8 weeks old when we bought him). Seems very healthy otherwise. What could be causing this bump to pop out of his side?
A likely cause would be food in his GI tract. That would come and go and move as peristaltic movements move both the food and the GI tract.
Thank you for answering so quickly, so this is normal? Or should I take him to see a vet?
With the caveat that I have not seen exactly what you are describing, I would say you do not have to worry about it.
That said, I think it is wise to have your new pets examined and a stool sample checked for parasites. That will get you off on a good path and introduce you and your iguana to your new veterinarian before you need him/her.
Hey my iguana has black spots on his nose are they burn spots of heating lamp
Are there any lizards that get along with iguanas?
That’s a complex question. If your enclosure it’s large enough, yes, but practically speaking, no.
I’m not housing them in the same cage but I’d take them out together. Will they fight?
They may do fine. Make sure that they have room to get away from one another and be there to break things up if they go awry. Best of luck! Dr. J
My iguana is 1 year old and he is 1 and a half feet long is that normal?
It seems that your iguana is a bit behind what we expect for normal growth (2-3 feet per year under perfect conditions). Low environmental temperatures is the most common reason for slow growth. Double check your temperatures and I’m quite sure your friend will increase his rate of growth.
My little brother’s iguana. The iguana has what looks like white paint from the top of his tail to the bottom of his tail. I was just wondering if he has something wrong with him or if he has stepped in something like his poop. If you please help figure out what this because we have never had an iguana I would really like your help thanks.