How To Take Care Of An Iguana

An iguana is a tropical animal native to Central and South America. They are usually green or brown, with dragon-like spikes on the rear of their heads.

You’ve finally decided on having a pet animal, an iguana. However, exotic pets like iguanas require more special care and attention than other reptiles because it will extend their life expectancy and allow you to enjoy the companionship of your pet iguana until it reaches adulthood. Thus, how do you take care of an iguana?

Continue reading to find out more.

How To Care For A Pet Iguana: What You Need

Iguana in a post about How To Take Care Of An Iguana

Green iguanas are often kept as pets, but before you get one, make sure you have the following supplies:

  • An iguana’s cage or hideout house for sleeping and hiding
  • A water dish
  • A food dish
  • A heating pad and UVB light
  • Reptile sand or dirt
  • Iguana bedding

How To Equip An Adult Iguana's Tank or Shelter

You'll need the following items to make an iguana's habitat suitable for its optimum survival:

Food Dish Plate

The first thing you need for your iguana is a food dish plate. You should provide a dish with enough room for the iguana and its food.

An iguana’s diet is one of the essential things you need to consider when shopping for iguana food. They are strict herbivores, so they primarily eat vegetables, green beans, turnip greens, collard greens, and fruits.

Water Bowls

When it comes to iguana care, one important thing to note is the size of their water bowl. It should be large enough so they can take a few steps in it and get a drink.

But not too deep where they can’t reach the surface. You’ll also want to change the water daily and ensure fresh water is always present.


Iguanas are arboreal and spend most of their time in the trees. Therefore, an iguana’s enclosure must have lots of branches to climb on. A mesh top is usable for viewing without worry that the iguana will escape.

Moving an iguana to a large enclosure as it grows is necessary, allowing horizontal and vertical movement.

Furthermore, cleaning out the enclosure is essential to keep it smelling fresh and prevent mold growth. A good rule of thumb is once per week or every two weeks, depending on how quickly things start growing in there.

Iguana Bedding

Iguanas will need bedding in their tank, but only a little. You should use enough bedding so the iguana can burrow under it and hide from light or people if it wants to, but not so much that it could cause an accident by getting tangled up in it or breathing too many dust particles.

Also, the bedding you choose must be soft enough for the iguana’s feet and mouth.

Beddings that work well include;

  • Aspen shavings
  • Coconut fiber
  • Paper towel or shredded newspaper strips
  • Egg crate matting with a wire bottom tray covered with sand.

Heating and Lighting

Baby iguanas must be kept warm, with daytime temperatures ranging from 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures from 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

It would help if you kept the humidity at 60% for the day and 50% for the night. They should also have some form of UVB lighting, either natural or artificial.

If you use artificial lights, ensure they emit a UVA and UVB light spectrum. Otherwise, it’s best to go with natural light.

How Do You Take Care Of An Iguana At Home?

Caring for an iguana at home is much like caring for any other animal. You’ll need to make sure you have the proper habitat for the animal and that it has everything it needs to thrive.

Further, the iguana will need plenty of environmental stimulation so it doesn’t become boring, which can lead to behavioral problems.

How To Provide Heat For Iguanas

Green iguanas are reptiles and must be kept at a temperature between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some people believe that iguanas always need a heat lamp because of their cold-blooded nature.

However, this is not the case. Iguanas only need a heat lamp at night when it’s dark outside or in a room with low light.

How To Identify and Handle Common Iguana Health Concerns

Looking back, we’ve discussed how to care for juvenile iguanas properly, but what about your iguana’s health?

Did you know that many iguana owners have no idea how to care for their pets properly? Some even mistake common health issues for other illnesses, which only worsen their iguana’s condition.

Learning some of the most common iguana health concerns and how to treat them can help ensure your iguana remains happy and healthy!

Here are five common iguana health concerns you should know about:

1. Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic Bone Disease is the most common health concern among adult iguanas. Several factors, including a lack of UVB light, vitamin A deficiency, obesity, and kidney disease, can cause this disease.

This Bone Disease can cause deformities in the bones, as well as organ and muscle damage.

You can prevent this condition by ensuring your iguana has access to appropriate levels of UVB light and does not get too fat. They should also have access to foods high in calcium, vitamin D3, and vitamin A such as spinach or carrots.

Some owners have also succeeded in using supplemental treatments like medications or oral supplements. If you notice any signs of Metabolic Bone Disease, consult your veterinarian immediately. The most severe form of this condition is called osteoporosis which causes severely weakened bones that will break easily from even minor trauma - making fractures more likely than other injuries.

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2. Obesity

Obesity is the second most common iguanas health concern that we discovered. When an iguana becomes obese, its body mass index (BMI) exceeds thirty-five. It can lead to various problems, such as arthritis, chronic respiratory disease, and heart failure.

The best way to combat obesity in your pet is by watching their diet closely. Provide your iguana live insects instead of high-calorie foods like fruits, vegetables, or lettuce, and give them a calcium supplement for their general health.

3. Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infection is the third most common health concern for iguanas. These infections can be caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, or protozoa and can be transmitted through the air.

Treatments available from your vet will help clear up the infection and prevent it from recurring.

The most common respiratory infection is Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI). Either bacterial or viral upper respiratory tract infections cause it.

Symptoms include a cough, nasal discharge, watery eyes, and loss of appetite. Sometimes there might also be wheezing and sneezing involved.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your baby iguana, it's important to take them to their veterinarian as soon as possible.

4. Gastrointestinal Parasites

The fourth most common health concern in iguanas is gastrointestinal parasites. These parasites can cause several problems, including diarrhea, constipation, lack of appetite, and weight loss.

Your adult iguana may also exhibit behaviors that are out of the ordinary, such as pacing and head bobbing. You should consult your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has a parasite infection.

The vet will perform a physical exam and recommend blood work to determine if your pet has an infection. They will also prescribe medication to kill off intestinal parasites lurking within your iguana’s intestines.

Parasites can be difficult to get rid of, so it’s best to consult a vet immediately.

5. Mouth Rot

The last most common concern about iguanas is mouth rot. Several different things, including malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and bacterial or fungal infections, cause it.

Mouth rot can look like patches of discolored skin on the mouth, sores around the mouth, or abnormal amounts of saliva in the mouth.

This issue can go unnoticed for long periods because it does not affect the iguana’s behavior or physical appearance.

Signs your baby iguana may have mouth rot include:

  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Head tilting
  • Eating more food than usual to compensate for the discomfort
  • Weight loss
  • Poor coordination
  • Weakness

Mouth rot is typically treated with antibiotics prescribed by your veterinarian. These medications will also help resolve any other issues that might be happening simultaneously with the mouth rot, such as bacteria or fungus.

Treatment duration varies depending on the severity of the infection, but it usually takes at least two weeks before noticeable improvement occurs.

How Do Iguanas Fare As House Pets?

Iguanas are not a common house pet. They are typically found in the wild in warm, tropical climates like Southern Florida. In some countries, they’re seen as a commercial food source and not as animals to keep as pets.

There is some debate about whether iguanas make good pets. They require a lot of care and attention, which may be something only some are willing to provide for their pet.

You can also learn how to care for a pet rat in our Ultihow blog How To Care For A Pet Rat? Your Ultimate Rat Care Guide.

How Hard Is It To Take Care Of Iguanas?

Most iguanas are not hard to take care of. They require basic care, such as fresh water and a proper diet.

The primary food for an adult iguana is cactus, which you can find at most grocery stores or farmers’ markets. Iguanas enjoy dark leafy greens and other raw vegetables, such as carrots and celery. Additionally, a young iguana can eat animal protein such as worms, flies, crickets, and mice/rats.

Iguanas are very clean and easy to take care of. They can be litter box trained, and some owners will say they are more straightforward than a cat or dog!

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Evaluating The Pet Maintenance Difficulty Level For Iguanas

Are iguanas good pets for beginners?

Young iguanas are only sometimes the best pets for beginners. They can be delicate and require a lot of attention and care. For example, they need a good heat source and UVB rays to stay healthy.

In addition, they’re fairly large, so you’ll need space for them to roam around in your home. That said, if you’re an experienced pet owner, a green iguana may be a great pet for you!


As a new pet parent, applying the strategies and tips you’ve learned in this article, the idea of a healthy iguana can become a reality.

Whether it’s baby iguanas or adult ones, some are easier to take care of than others. The best thing is to research your chosen type thoroughly before making any decisions!


How long do iguanas live?

Iguanas are one of the longest-living lizards in the world. They can live for over 20 years in captivity. The average lifespan of an iguana is about 15 to 20 years, but it can live up to 25 years with proper care.


How To Care For A Pet Iguana: What You Need

The Spruce Pets: Iguana: Species Profile

How To Equip An Adult Iguana's Tank or Shelter

Reptiles Life: Basic Iguana Care – Enclosure Setup, Diet, & More

Food Dish Plate

Oddly Cute Pets: Best Food For Iguanas And What Can They Eat (Food List).

Water Bowls

Reptiles Life: Basic Iguana Care – Enclosure Setup, Diet, & More

VCA Hospitals: Housing Pet Iguanas

Iguana Bedding

Lizards 101: What Can I Use For Iguana Bedding – Best and Worst Options

Heating and Lighting

Lizard 101: Heating, Lighting, And Humidity In Iguana’s Vivarium

How Do You Take Care Of An Iguana At Home?

AnimalLova: How To Take Care of Iguana As Pet At Home

How To Provide Heat For Iguanas

Exotic Direct: Iguana vivarium setup

Metabolic Bone Disease

VCA Hospitals: Iguanas: Diseases


Dubia-Dubaies: How to Spot Reptile Obesity

Respiratory Infections

Lizard 101: Iguana Health Issues And Diseases

Gastrointestinal Parasites

Pet MD:  Reptile Parasites & Worms in Reptiles

Mouth Rot

Reptiles Magazine: Identify And Treat Mouth, Shell, And Scale Rot In Reptiles

How Do Iguanas Fare As House Pets?

Pet Keen: Do Iguanas Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know!

How Hard Is It To Take Care Of Iguanas?

Oddly Cute Pets: Best Food For Iguanas And What Can They Eat (Food List)

Evaluating The Pet Maintenance Difficulty Level For Iguanas

Pet Keen: Do Iguanas Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know!

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