Green Iguana Care: Species Overview
- Common Names: Green or Red Iguana
- Scientific Name: Iguana iguana
- Distribution: Throughout Central and South America
- Adult Size: 4-5’ (up to 7 feet when tail is included in measurement)
- Life Expectancy: 15-20+ years
The Green Iguana is the most popular “large-sized” lizard kept in captivity. Although these lizards have been popular as pets, they are very demanding and are not for beginners. Their adult size and potential for aggressiveness make them a challenge to care for properly. The majority of iguanas available today are farm-raised in Central and South America.
Green Iguana Care: Habitat Set-Up
- Green Iguanas grow up to 5’+ and will need to be housed in a large enclosure as adults.
- Hatchling and juveniles will need a minimum of 30-40 gallon size terrarium.
- Zoo Med’s Iguanarium® is an excellent choice for medium to sub-adult Iguanas.
- All branches and cage decor must be secured to the enclosure because Iguanas are active animals that will quickly rearrange their cage if allowed.
- Daytime Terrarium Temperature: 80-85° F.
- Basking Spot: 95-100° F.
- Nighttime temperature: 75-80° F.
- Zoo Med’s Basking Spot Lamp, PowerSun® Repti Halogen™, and Ceramic Heat Emitter are excellent choices for heating Iguana enclosures.
- UVB Lighting is essential for Iguanas to process calcium in captivity.
- Without UVB lighting Iguanas will develop serious health problems such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).
- UVB Lighting should be left on for 10-12 hours per day and turned off at night.
- Zoo Med’s ReptiSun® linear and compact fluorescent lamps are an excellent choice for providing Iguanas with UVB. The PowerSun® is a unique way to ensure both UVB and heat all in one light!
- Cage carpeting, such as Zoo Med’s Eco Carpet is the most comfortable substrate to maintain with Iguanas.
- ReptBark®, Forest Floor™, and Eco Earth® can also be used.
- Iguanas are active animals, and will quickly make a mess of substrates and other cage decors.
About the Green Iguana
Green Iguana Care: Temperament
- Pet iguanas will never be fully tame, but you can earn your iguanas trust with routine holding. In due time, your iguana will feel comfortable in their environment. For that reason, it’s essential to handle your iguana with care and patience.
- While baby iguanas move quickly, adult iguanas can become lazy and docile unless they feel threatened. Iguanas enjoy climbing on their owners, but keep in mind. They have sharp claws, and their tails are strong enough to break human bones.
- With this in mind, pay attention to their aggression and struggle when handling them.
Diet and Nutrition
- Iguanas are herbivores that will prefer a varied green diet. Zoo Med’s pelleted Iguana Diet formulated for the different growth stages of Iguana and is a perfect maintenance food. Food items mixed into a “mash” of moistened pellets.
- Juvenile Iguanas offered occasional insects such as crickets and mealworms, yet insects should make up less than 5% of the total diet.
- Plant matter should represent greater than 50% of your Iguana’s diet. We recommend collard and mustard greens, romaine lettuce, escarole, zucchini, grated carrots, cooked sweet potatoes, and other quality vegetables.
- Stay away from cabbage and iceberg lettuce. Spinach offered only on rare occasions.
- Fruits offered as treats and should make up less than 10% of the total diet. Good fruit choices include bananas, melons, seedless apples, strawberries, tomatoes, grapes, and peaches.
- RetiCalcium® and Retivite™ with Vitamin D3 added to food as directed.
- Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
- Supervise children around pets.
- ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
- Adults should assist children with handwashing after contact with a pet, its habitat, or aquarium water.