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Tropical Iguana

includes red, green and blue iguanas

Iguanas can grow up to six feet in total length. Some young iguanas are bright green, which helps camouflage their bodies in the green leaves of the rainforest. Iguanas come in different color variations such as red or blue.

Tropical Iguana

Tropical Iguana Facts

Average Adult Size 4 to 6 feet long, depending on species
Average Life Span 15+ years with proper care
Diet herbivore

Will reach adult size in 2 to 3 years, under ideal conditions; upgrade habitat size as your reptile grows.

Diet

A well-balanced iguana diet consists of:

  • 70% dark leafy greens such as collard greens and spinach; 20% bulk vegetables such as cabbage, carrots and broccoli; 10% fruit such as mangoes, bananas and strawberries.
  • Iguanas benefit from being fed a commercial iguana diet.

Feeding

Things to remember when feeding your iguana:

  • Fresh, clean, chlorine-free water should be available at all times.
  • If your iguana does not naturally take to a pelleted commercial diet, moisten it with water or mix it with vegetable- or fruit-flavored baby food.
  • Feed once a day.
  • Remember, iguanas do not chew their food, they swallow it whole; food should be chopped, shredded or grated into small edible pieces.
  • Sprinkle food with calcium supplement daily and a multi-vitamin supplement once or twice a week.
  • Vegetables and fruits not eaten within 24 hours should be discarded.

Housing

  • Size - Appropriately sized and shaped habitat with secure cover; as the iguana grows, a larger habitat will be required. The iguana should be able to freely turn and move around in the habitat.
  • Habitat - Provide a hiding area; branches for basking. Maintain 70 to 90% humidity by misting as needed every day.
  • Substrate - Use a mulch type such as coconut fiber.
  • Temperature - Temperature gradient (100°F for the warm end and 80°F for the cool end). Use an incandescent light or ceramic heater as primary heat source.
  • Lighting - UVB rays with full spectrum lighting for 10 to 12 hours a day is required. An incandescent day bulb can be used for basking area during daylight hours only; can use a ceramic heater or nocturnal or red incandescent at all hours.
  • House adult male iguanas separately and do not house different reptile species together.

Normal Behavior

  • May become tame with daily handling.
  • Bob their head as a means of communication.
  • Males may become territorial.
  • Healthy iguanas sneeze to rid their bodies of excess salt.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat at least once a week: place iguana in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all traces of bleach smell; dry the tank and furnishings completely and add clean substrate.

Grooming & Hygiene

  • Iguanas regularly shed their skin; ensure humidity of habitat is at appropriate level to allow proper shedding. To facilitate shedding, bathe in a large container that allows the iguana to immerse its entire body or provide a shed box, a hide box with sphagnum moss, that will aid in the shedding process.
  • Trim an iguana's nails as needed.

Health

signs of a healthy animal

  • Active and alert
  • Clear eyes
  • Body and tail are filled out
  • Healthy skin
  • Clear vent
  • Nose is free of discharge, aside from their salt excretion
  • Eats regularly

Red Flags

  • weight loss or decreased appetite
  • mucus in mouth or nose
  • swelling
  • retained shed on toes
  • lethargy
  • bumps, sores, or abrasions on skin
  • labored breathing
  • paralysis of limbs
  • abnormal feces

If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.

Common Health Issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Kidney disease Symptoms or Causes Weight loss, lethargy, swollen abdomen, neck or eyes, and frequent drinking or urinating. Main cause is dehydration. Suggested Action Seek immediate veterinary attention.
Health Issue Metabolic bone/vitamin deficiency Symptoms or Causes Inability to absorb calcium due to insufficient UVB light or improper calcium/vitamin D. If untreated, can lead to a disorder characterized by deformities, softened bones, swollen limbs and lethargy. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian and provide ample UVB lighting and the proper amount of calcium/vitamin supplements.
Health Issue Respiratory disease Symptoms or Causes Labored breathing and mucus in the mouth or nose. Can be caused by a habitat that is too cold or damp. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian and ensure habitat is the proper temperature.

Sources

Ask a store partner about Petco's selection of books on iguanas and the variety of private brand products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider not having a reptile as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about Geckos and disease.

This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.

Note: The information in this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the sources on the following page or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.