Green Iguana Care Sheet

Below is a Green iguana care sheet based upon my experiences with this iconic tropical lizard.

Green Iguana
Iguana iguana

Green iguanas (Iguana iguana) are one of the most well known and widely recognized lizards in the world. Their exotic appearance coupled with a tractable personality make them a popular pet reptile choice.

Range: Green iguanas have a very wide range. Their populations span from Southern Mexico south to Brazil, including several Caribbean islands including Grenada, Curacao, Trinidad, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and several others. They have been introduced into Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, and Hawaii.

Physical Description: Their sharp dorsal spines, large hanging dewlap, and powerful scaled jowls work together to help make the iguana one of the most distinctive and prehistoric-looking lizards on the planet. Coloring varies from muted browns to pastel greens, coupled with a tail laced with black stripes.

Size: Hatchling green iguanas are approximately 9" in total length, and triple their size by the end of their first year, provided they are given adequate husbandry. Within seven years they top out at approximately 72" or, in familiar terms, six feet long. Females are generally smaller than males. They have extraordinarily sharp claws, and can weigh up to 18 pounds as adult lizards.

Behavior: These lizards are often considered naturally tame, but in fact, this is not true. Initially, they tend to resort to tail-whipping, and can be a bit feisty overall. Breeding season tends to affect their personalities more than most lizards, especially males, as can direct sunlight. Employing the correct taming methods, they can become very tractable and content. Read my article about how to tame a lizard for more guidance.

Enclosure: These become large lizards that can reach six-feet in length, so constructing an appropriately sized cage is a definite challenge. An enclosure that measures at least six-feet in length, four-feet in width, and four-feet in height is of minimally acceptable dimensions.

Green iguanas prefer basking on suspended branches, so provide plenty of them. Substrate-wise, provide something that will hold some level of moisture such as several inches of compacted sphagnum moss, regular dirt or soil, or a mix of both.

Heating & Humidity: The cage should allow the iguana to choose which temperature and humidity it prefers at any given moment in time. The basking spot should be 115F to 120F (use a temp gun to calibrate). Use a halogen flood light to achieve these temperatures (not a spot light, which has a beam that is too concentrated). You can move the bulb(s) up or down to adjust the surface temperatures. Full spectrum lighting is advisable.

This species of lizard hails from tropical locales, which means you should provide an enclosure that allows for humidity levels around 70%. Conservative ventilation will help accomplish this goal (no screen tops), as will a good sized, heavy water bowl and daily misting. Use a hygrometer to assure that you're within acceptable humidity levels. If your iguana is soaking in its water dish, the cage is too dry.

Lighting: Aside from the halogen flood basking bulbs noted above, I highly recommended you also purchase a quality UV light. UV light is extra important for lizards that eat primarily plant matter, as is the case with iguanas. The UV bulbs aim to help the lizard synthesize vitamin D3. Yes, reptile UV lighting is in its infancy, and much more research is needed regarding its effectiveness, but it is likely better than nothing.

Feeding: No Green Iguana care sheet would be complete without a lengthly discussion on food items. Green iguanas are omnivorous in the wild, which means they consume both plant and animal matter. In essence, they are opportunistic feeders.

This Green iguana care sheet has been influenced heavily by my personal experiences keeping these lizards. I bought my first Green iguana back in 1990, when reptile husbandry was still in its infancy and the internet was a pipe dream. I kept the hatchling lizard in a 55-gallon tank, with fluorescent lighting, a hot rock, and alfalfa pellet substrate. I offered the lizard plenty of food but, in retrospect, it was terrible husbandry overall. Despite this, the iguana still found a way to grow. Live and learn.

The diet you offer your Green iguana should be primarily vegetable based (80% or so), some non-acidic fruit (10%) and some protein (10%). Avoid diets that include softened dog food or store bought pellets.

Anyone who says iguanas should never consume insects has never observed iguanas in the wild--we have seen them eat everything from bugs to rodents to
birds…yes, birds! They are opportunistic feeders, as previously mentioned, and don't be afraid to feed your iguana (especially juveniles) occasional insects.

Dust all foods with vitamin and calcium supplements (with vitamin D3), as iguanas grow quickly and require considerable nutrition to do so in a healthy manner.

Collard greens, Dandelion greens, strawberries, figs, tomatoes, endive, kale, bok choi, and carrots make very nutritious meals.

Breeding: Raising a male and female Green iguana together as hatchlings is perhaps the best method to ensure breeding compatibility. There is no need to manipulate the temperatures to induce breeding, as it should occur automatically with healthy individuals. Play sand tends to be the best and most accepted egg-laying substrate for these reptiles. Sometimes females guard their egg clutches, which can be 12 to 30 eggs in total.

Green iguanas are farmed very commonly in the United States. These are generally sectioned-off locations in Florida where hundreds of iguanas live and reproduce as a community.

Price Range: $20 to $75 for farm bred specimens, even less for wild caught lizards. You can buy a Green iguana for sale on our main website.

Species Notes: Green iguanas can live for over 20+ years with good captive care. They often expel saline through their nose (which forms a white crust), and can swim with great efficiency. In fact, they can remain under water for up to 30 minutes. Their tails can be dropped if mishandled. Over 500,000 are sold each year in the United States alone.

Summary: Despite initial feistiness, Green iguanas often settle down to become tame lizards who value interaction with their keeper, even if it is just as a food source. Their distinctive appearance is intriguing, and their diet is easy to accommodate. They require a spacious cage with considerable humidity. Captive breeding is rare, but encouraged.

Copyright 2011 - BackwaterReptiles.com

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Why buy our reptiles?

We offer exotic reptiles for sale online at absolute rock-bottom prices, which means we make these fascinating animals available to you affordably as pets, or even to start your own reptile breeding project. We are reptile enthusiasts who believe captive breeding is integral to the future of the market, as it not only helps protect wild herp populations, but is an incredibly rewarding experience that tends to intensify one's passion for these amazing prehistoric creatures. Whether you buy a snake, lizard, turtle, tortoise, or alligator, we are driven to provide the highest quality live reptiles for sale.

Why buy our amphibians?

Amphibians are generally slower-moving than reptiles, and have uniquely moist skin which means they are never far from a source of water. Their life cycle is nothing short of incredible: they hatch in water, spend weeks or months in metamorphosis, then become either terrestrial or remain primarily water bound. Some salamanders even breathe through their skin! Our live amphibians for sale online include frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. Some are huge, some are small, and virtually all are amazing to observe in captivity. When you buy amphibians from us, you can rest assured they are fully guaranteed to arrive alive and in great condition. Why not start an amphibian breeding project today?

Why buy our reptile feeders?

Reptile and amphibian food should be varied, which is why we offer an array of feeder insects for sale. It's always far more cost effective to buy feeder insects in bulk, which often saves up to 70% off pet store prices. Plus, the feeders are delivered right to your doorstep. We offer live crickets for sale, as well as dubia roaches, mealworms, wax worms, nightcrawlers, and now even lizards, all at the lowest possible prices. Our reptile and amphibian feeder insects and lizards include a guarantee of live arrival.

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