Iguanas are very, very difficult animals to care for properly. Getting one is easy; keeping and caring for one is almost impossible. My personal recommendation is that if you aren’t extremely wealthy to where you can pay someone to take better care of them in your home than they are taken care of at the pet store where you buy them, don’t even consider it. However, if you do fall into this group, and you don’t want to listen to my pleadings that you still shouldn’t get one, here’s what to do.
The first concern is Iguana food. Proper Iguana food includes a balanced diet of all the following plant foods. Sweet potatoes, Summer Squash, zucchini, Green beans, Assorted Fruits, Collard Greens, Watercress, Mustard Greens, Chards, Dandelions, Parsnips, Endives and Alfalfa are all a welcome and much-appreciated part of the Iguana’s regular intake. Please note carefully that regardless of all that is written in nomenclature, Iguanas are not eaters of any type of animal or animal protein but are entirely vegetarian in nature. Your Iguana will need a daily vitamin and a calcium supplement too.
Though Iguanas like Ferrets are the bottom feeders of the upper world and will eat just about anything, they should only be allowed to eat that which is good for them. Even among selections in plant life, there are only certain foods that are good for them. They should eat a minimum of the following plant foods: Brussels sprouts, and other cabbage-related vegetables, Kale, bok choy, broccoli, and cauliflower. Never feed them spinach. A thorough study of what plant life is even available in their natural habitat should help you compare the best choices for their diet by plant families.
Here are your potential pet’s gastronomical needs on a more biological level. Iguanas have a high level need of calcium. They should stay away from phosphorous. They need their D vitamins and especially D3. Greens are their primary diet, greens of a wide variety. They also need raspberries, blackberries, bananas, yams and other plant foods that have not been treated with chemicals or have been thoroughly rinsed. Some processed Iguana foods (not cat, dog or other pet foods) can also be introduced but the vast plurality of the creature’s consumptives should be green leafy vegetables.
A few simple rules of thumb to help you remember the rest include to give your iguana a variety of foods and serve all foods in moderation. Make sure to toss the greens and veggies like a salad mixing everything together thoroughly. Especially any treats that are not plant life should be mixed in well with the food; your green lizard friend will indeed pick out only his favorite food and leave the rest if he can. And don’t use any frozen vegetables with the possible exception of peas on occasion.
One possible mixture includes sweet potato, carrots, turnip greens, squash, and zucchini. You can vary this by topping with fruit. A variety each week is good. Iguanas need huge portions of the darker leafy greens and also rutabagas, acorn squash, and green beans that you can chop up finely.
Your green dragon like pet will enjoy an exercise in the house but should be kept in his own home when you are not in. A proper housing is such as would serve a pet of eventually six feet plus in length, with room to turn about. A terrarium is perfect but should not only be several feet around but several feet high. A glass terrarium will provide the right environment for optimal health, growth and life. It must be taller than he will ever get to be to insure he can’t escape.
Your pet must have half a day’s light and half a day’s darkness preferably in conjunction with actual rise and fall of the sun for those exercises he gets outside his captive state now and then. He needs a constant and comfortable temperature (for him anyway) of no more than 90 degrees and no less than 80 degrees. A corner of the terrarium should be specially heated to 100 degrees for when the Iguana chooses to receive warmer heat, which he will. Have and keep a tight seal on the lid to keep him bound in.
If you live in a region that is hot year round, your iguana should have an outdoor enclosure as the natural sunlight is always better for him when available.
The best pre-iguana approach
Consult friends and family who have successfully kept and owned Iguana’s for many years. Read up on the Internet, in books and talk to vets and reputable pet stores. Research several months in advance and compare commonalities in what you hear.
The best time to get an Iguana is when you feel more than confident you have become an expert yourself, that you have the time, money, environment, property, desire and commitment to keep an Iguana for life and to help him (or her) to thrive throughout ownership.