The green iguana is a large and impressive lizard that feeds mainly on plants. Green iguanas can grow up to six feet long and are considered one of the largest lizards in the world. They have acute vision, hearing, and sense of smell, allowing them to thrive in their natural arboreal habitat. Green Iguanas are primarily herbivorous but usually stick to a vegetarian diet of shoots, leaves, blossoms, and fruits of plants such as firebush, jasmine, orchids, roses, hibiscuses, garden greens, squashes, and melons. Juvenile green iguanas feed on vegetation, insects, and tree snails. Adult green iguanas can also feed on bird eggs and dead animals.
Green iguanas are one of the most popular pet lizards on the market today, but many keepers abandon them because of their immense size and care requirements. Before you buy an iguana read as much as you can about the species and their care.
As hatchlings, green iguanas are only a couple of inches long. When your green iguana is done growing after a couple of years, it will be from 4-6 feet in length. Most of the overall length will be a large, powerful tail. Females generally grow to be slightly larger than males. As their name suggests, green iguanas are green in color, and females tend to be slightly duller than males.
As hatchlings, green iguanas can be very jumpy and very fast. As your iguana matures, it will calm down. A fully grown iguana will not be able to be held, but they enjoy interaction with humans. Most keepers allow their green iguanas to wander the house or particular rooms and can be in constant contact with humans without a problem.
Green iguanas are herbivores, and cannot digest meat or proteins. Overall, the diet of an iguana should be very low in animal proteins and high in plant matter. Dandelion and collared greens should consist of 70% of their diet, fresh fruits like strawberries should make up of 10% of their diet, and the other 10% should be vegetables like squash or peas. Variety is important and you should feed them a combination of greens, vegetables and fruits daily. When you make your green iguanas salad, be sure to chop up all of the items so they can be swallowed. Iguanas are not able to chew so items that are too large cause a choking hazard.
Some keepers choose to feed their iguanas dog or cat food. Iguanas living solely off of processed pet food often die of liver failure within a couple of years. Fresh greens are the most important part to their diet.
Green iguanas are born only a couple of inches long and only need a 20-gallon enclosure. Once they reach 10 inches in length, their cage should become 55 gallons. Most fully grown iguanas roam around the house or in particular rooms because they cannot be limited to a cage. If you do not want a 4-6 foot lizard walking around your house like a dog, fully grown green iguanas will need nearly an entire room to live in comfortably. Many owners have successfully trained their iguanas to go to the bathroom in one area of the house only. If you allow your iguana to wander, it will still need a cage the size of a closet to heat up, eat, defecate, and feel safe.
If you live in a warmer climate, green iguanas can be kept outside for periods of time. Make sure you do not leave them alone, and that they have places to hide so they wont run away.
A substrate is not really needed because your iguana will spend most of its time off of the bottom of the enclosure. Hatchling green iguanas can stay on newspaper or paper towel.
Shelter One or two hiding spots should be available off of the floor of the enclosure. Offer lots of logs for your iguana to climb on and foliage to hide among. Shelter is important so your iguana feels safe and unnecessary stress is not caused.
Temperature/Lighting Green iguanas are ectothermic, which means they require an external heat source to function properly. A basking bulb that reaches 90-95F is required. At night temperature can drop down 15F. UVB is also very important for your iguana to receive plenty of vitamin D3. UV bulbs need to be within 10 inches of your iguana to work properly. Replace the bulbs every 6 months so they continue to work properly.
Humidity is important because green iguanas are from tropical places in the world. Keep the humidity levels from 50-70% at all times. This can be accomplished by spraying the enclosure 2-3 times a day or using an automatic misting system.
A large, stable water bowl is important to include in the enclosure at all times. Keep the water bowl clean and full. Iguanas prefer to defecate in water so check daily to keep the water source clean.
Spot clean the enclosure daily. Keep the water bowl filled with fresh water at all times. Maintain proper humidity and thoroughly clean the entire enclosure once every six months.
Green iguanas are often overbred and are considered disposable pets in North America. However, if you want to try breeding green iguanas, it is a very rewarding experience. Before you breed, make sure both iguanas are fully grown and that the female is slightly larger than the male.
A large nesting box big enough for the female to move around in is important. This box should be filled of the way with damp sand to allow the female to burrow. Once mating has occurred, the female will begin to develop eggs. When she is ready, the eggs will be laid in the nesting box.
Once the eggs have been laid, remove them and place them in an incubator. Neither male nor female will care for the eggs once they have been laid. In the incubator, eggs will need to be kept in a 2:1 vermiculite to water mix so they stay hydrated, but do not become moldy. Keep the incubator at about 85F. Incubation will take 2-3 months to occur, and eggs can hatch up to a week apart from each other.
Green iguanas are often considered disposable pets, but with the right care they can be very rewarding to have around the house. Remember, do your research before buying any pet so that it can live happily and healthily.
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