Heat is an important factor in your Iguana's health. As reptiles, Iguanas are cold blooded and cannot regulate their internal body temperatures. They must bask underneath a heat source in order to warm their bodies up enough to function. An Iguana should be provided with both a warm area to bask in and bring their body temperature up enough to digest food and function, and a cooler area to allow for thermoregulation when they get too warm.
There are several ways to provide a basking area for your Iguana. The simplest way is to use a regular household bulb in a dome reflector lamp to provide overhead heat for your friend. However, with this approach you will also need a separate UVB light source which is covered in the section on UVB. Pet stores sell many different kinds of basking bulbs, usually for exorbitant prices. Basically, all you need a basking light to do is produce heat, and regular household bulbs do that just fine (and are a heck of a lot cheaper).
Another good heat source is one of the new Mercury Vapor bulbs such as ZooMed's PowerSun bulb. This bulb provides both heat and the needed UVB rays in one handy package. The one drawback of this type of bulb is that most cannot be used with a dimmer, so regulating your temperatures is a bit more difficult. The plus side is that unlike most UVB tubes that need to be replaced every 6 months, the Mercury Vapor bulbs will last at least a year without losing strength.
There are other heat sources available, some of which do not produce light and are good for nighttime heating, or for keeping the ambient temperature constant. Radiant heat panels and CHE (ceramic heat emitters) bulbs both provide fairly even heat without light. A hotrock is a BIG no-no for any reptile! Most reptiles have very poor pain sensors in the belly region, and a hotrock that shorts out and overheats can burn or kill your Iguana. Instead of a hotrock, a human heating pad can be used on a low setting, especially at night when the temps drop.
In general, your Iguana should have a habitat with the ambient temperature around 77-80°F, and a basking area around 95°F. Nighttime temps should be no lower than the mid 70's F. Iguanas need a day-night cycle, so putting your lights on timers to provide a regular cycle is a lifesaver, especially if your daily schedule varies or you need to be away for a day. A thermometer (preferably two, one for the basking area and one for the cool area) is necessary to accurately monitor your temperatures. Don't guess about this very important factor in your Ig's health! Remember that temperatures can fluctuate from day to day and season to season. Invest in several thermometers and keep a watch on them!
With any heat source, it is important to make sure your iguana is not able to come in direct contact with the heat and burn themselves. Heat lamps and CHEs should be separated from the iguana's habitat by metal screening. Make sure they are far enough away that the ig cannot get close enough to burn themselves. It is generally not a good idea to hang heat lights inside the cage. Keep your ig safe from burns.
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