Make Your Iguana a Rainforest!

Submitted by Green Iguana on Tue, 2006-01-03 10:00.

FOR ANYONE WHO HAS EVER WANTED TO OWN A SMALL dinosaur, an iguana would make an excellent substitute. However, it's important to remember, destined to grow to five or six feet, the iguana is a wild creature ...some are easily tamed, some not so easily. Iguana ownership can be a labor-intensive passion which becomes much easier when you fulfill your pet's requirements.WITH THEIR necessary requirements met, an iguana can live for 15 years or more and grow to an impressive 5 to 6 feet in total length. Obviously, this is an animal you must plan ahead for, if you are to raise one properly and in good health.THE KEY to raising a healthy reptile is in creating the proper environment and following good husbandry techniques. Iguanas come from the rainforest in countries like Costa Rica, Mexico, and Guatamala and must live in a warm climate with high humidity. There are several places in the U.S. where the climate is warm enough for iguanas to establish wild ranges, Florida and Southern California are two, but usually the owner must be the one to create that necessary special environment for his or her pet. Try to recreate Iguana iguana 's natural environment in the mini-ecosystem you design for your iguana. Study the rainforest and the components that make up a rainforest ecosystem and you can create a world for your iguana that more closely resembles his natural world.REQUIREMENTS:

  • A 40 to 50 gal.Terrarium/or Custom Enclosure with a least three solid sides. DO NOT buy a 10 or 20 gallon terrarium to start. Iguanas grow VERY quickly and will outgrow a small terrarium in a few months. Begin by building a special enclosure or plan on selling your 50 gallon terrarium in a year or so and replace it with a larger, custom enclosure. An enclosure for an adult iguana should be wide enough for an iguana to turn comfortably and one and a half times as high and long. It can have wire sides if it is heated properly with basking sites and proper lighting and heating but at least two sides should be up against a wall or be enclosed.
  • Combination Fluorescent/Heat Lamp Fixture OR/ TWO (2) clamp-on type light fixtures for a regular light bulb (day) and one for a black, blue, or red bulb (night) and separate fluorescent fixture for UVB exposure.
    75 to 100 watt Daylight Bulb Heat Light and 75 to 100 watt Red or Blue Night Heat Light

    • DO NOT BUY OR USE A HOT ROCK! The hot rock may seem to be working and your iguana may seem to like it because he or she spends all of their time on it...don't be fooled. What is happening is that the environment is not warm enough and has no basking spot so the iguana is trying to raise his internal temperature. This is NOT natural. You may think everything is OK and then your iguana may seem to become lethargic and may stop eating. The road to illness is a subtle one. Food that is in your iguana's hind gut is being cooked by the belly heat. Iguanas reach their optimum temperature by laying in the sun, not on hot rocks. Iguana's food must be processed through a subtle rise in internal temperature that is achieved by moving in and out of the sun. Hot rocks eventually malfunction and your iguana can become severely burned.

  • Ceramic-type screw-in heat element (Perlco) for night is better but requires special clamp-on fixture (porcelain bulb holder)
  • Vita-Lite or ZooMed full-spectrum fluorescent tube (UVB)
  • Two Strip Thermometers to measure the temperature in both the cooler and warmer (basking) areas of the enclosure
  • Under-Tank Heating Pad for colder climates (Preferrable to a hot rock)
  • Tank mat or substrate material - indoor/outdoor carpeting (check for frayed edges). Do not use bark, sand or pebbles.
  • Half-Log or Reptile Cave
  • Two timers for the nighttime heater and daytime lights
  • Plastic Plants and Branches (bigger around than your iguana)
  • Metal Grater or Food Processor
  • Vitamin and Calcium supplements
  • A vegetarian diet

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