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.