The Iguana Den




So you think you're ready to get an Iguana? Before you bring your new friend home, make sure you have everything you need set up and ready to go. It's always a good idea to have the cage fully set up and running at least a day before you bring your new Iguana home so you can check the temperatures and make any changes needed. The following are several supply lists for prospective owners. The first lists details the 'Must Haves' - things you really ought to have no matter what. The second list details things that are not quite as urgently needed, but that are useful / helpful to have.

Must Haves:

  • Cage - should be appropriately sized for your iguana. A hatchling may be ok in a LARGE terrarium for a few months, but they grow FAST and you will need a much larger cage by the end of the first year. For an adult Iguana you should have a cage 6'x5'x3' (H,L,D). The cage should be furnished with climbing branches and/or basking shelves. Make your Iguana's environment interesting. You wouldn't want to sit and stare at 4 blank walls all day, would you?
  • Heat- can be supplied by a basking bulb - you can use UVHeat bulbs to supply both UVB and heat, but for supplemental heating or when used in conjunction with UVB producing fluorescent tubs, a regular household bulb does fine. For night heat you can use a CHE bulb.
  • UVB - VERY important, don't skip this no matter what! Without UVB your Iguana cannot process calcium and will be susceptible to MBD. You can get the UVHeat bulbs that provide UVB and heat in one fixture, but you can also buy UVB producing fluorescent tubes such as the ZooMed Iguana Light. Plant grow lights do NOT produce UVB! Make sure you get a bulb specifically for reptiles and it should state that it produces UVB.
  • Substrate - this one is easy. Newspaper is one of the best options: cheap and easy to clean. So it's not very aesthetic...when you have to clean out the cage EVERY DAY aesthetics pale in comparison to ease of keeping the cage clean. Other options include reptile or indoor/outdoor carpeting, paper towels, regular towels, etc. Avoid particulate substrates such as dirt, corncob, walnut shells, and the like. These are too easy for your iguana to ingest and cause impaction.
  • Food & Water Bowls - Use paper plates for food bowls: again, cheap and easy to clean up! For water you can provide a rubbermaid sweater box that is kept half filled with clean, fresh water. Another good water bowl option is a shallow kitty litter pan (new and clean, of course!) Make sure your Iguana has clean fresh water available at all times. Keep an eye on the water bowl as many like to use it as a toilet!
  • Humidity Device - This does not have to be complicated. Depending on your climate, the water bowl in your enclosure may be enough to raise your humidity and provide a soaking area for your Ig. Another simple way to raise humidity is to get a spray bottle of water to mist your Iguana with. You can also by humidifiers made for humans, as well as specialty reptile made humidifiers.
  • Proper Diet - make sure you know where to get the foods your Ig needs on a regular basis! Remember, they need a good VARIETY of leafy greens, vegetables, and fruit. Just giving them collards every day isn't going to cut it. Find a good grocery store or farm market in your area and stock up on several items for your Ig's salad.
  • A GOOD Reptile Vet - We cannot stress how important this is! Take the time to research vets in your area and find one who is knowledgeable about reptiles. Ask questions. Call the herp society for suggestions, ask other reptile owners. Don't wait until you have an emergency to find a vet. It's a good idea to take you new friend to a vet within the first week for a checkup, and then once a year after that. While it may seem like an added expense, these 'well baby' visits help your vet develop a 'baseline' for your pet so they will have an easier time diagnosing illness or injury later on.

Other Useful Supplies:

  • Extra misting bottles - these come in VERY handy. You can use them for misting, for certain medications like Ivermectin, or for disinfectant solution. One important note here - make sure you LABEL your bottles! I mark all of mine in permanent marker so I know what is in them, and for things like the Nolvasan and the Ivermectin, I also mark the amounts used in mixing up the solution so I don't have to wonder how much to add next time.
  • Supplements - With a proper diet, a healthy iguana should not need supplementation. However, sick iguanas or iguanas in rehab may need a little extra in the way of certain vitamins and minerals. If you do need to supplement, remember that too much can be as harmful as not enough. Just a dusting once in a while should be sufficient. If in doubt, talk to your vet about how much and how often.
  • Towels - towels are great...use them for padding on the basking spot, use them to control unruly iguanas when you have to give medications, use them for drying igs off after baths, use them to pad the bottom of the carrier when you go to the get the idea. ;)
  • Eye dropper - good for rehydrating or giving meds that don't require exact dosages. Make sure it's plastic! Glass could shatter if a grumpy Ig bites down on it!
  • Paper towels - Always come in handy for cleaning.
  • Plastic Gloves - Great when cleaning and disinfecting cages.
  • Plastic baggies - handy for storing small items and great for collecting fecal samples for the vet! Turn one inside out over your hand, pick the sample up through the bag, and turn the bag right side out. Instant sample with no mess!
  • First Aid Kit - For minor injuries only! Should contain a disinfectant scrub like Nolvasan or Betadine, an antibiotic ointment, gauze, scissors, eyedropper, tweezers, tape. Remember, anything other than a minor injury should go straight to the vet!
  • Heating Pad - this is handy for Igs when free roaming to rest on to warm up.
  • IgGrips - these nifty gauntlet type gloves fit over your arms and hands but leave your fingers free so you can feel how much pressure you are using. Not only do they protect your arms from scratches, but they give your Ig a better grip, making him feel more secure.
  • Nolvasan - I've mentioned this several times before. It's a veterinary disinfectant that can be used for cleaning tubs after Ig baths, cleaning and disinfecting enclosures, and even as a wound cleanser when sufficiently diluted. It is used at a dilution of several tablespoons per gallon (read the label for exact instructions) so a little bit goes a LONG way! Your vet may be able to sell you some, or you can buy it online at places like KV Vet Supply.


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