The Iguana Den





Multiple Iguanas

If you are planning to have more than one iguana, there are some important factors to keep in mind. Iguanas are very territorial. They do NOT like to share their turf with other iguanas. Iguanas neither need nor want 'friends', and housing two iguanas in the same cage is a recipe for disaster.

In the wild, iguanas can and do congregate together in the prime basking and eating spots. However, in the wild, if an iguana gets upset with sharing its turf with another and becomes aggressive, the subordinate iguana has literally acres and acres to escape into. In captivity, most cages are too small for even one iguana, and they are trapped in a small setting with the territorial iguana.

Another problem is that reptile dominance can be very subtle. Changes in posture and even certain looks can be used to assert dominance. These subtle signs can be enough to keep the subordinate iguana from the best basking areas and from food. Even if they are still eating and basking, the stress of living with another iguana can be very harsh. Reptiles can and do die from stress!

While reptile dominance can start out subtle, it can also quickly escalate to violence. Sadly, many iguanas housed with others end up at the vet's office being stiched up after an attack by the dominant iguana. Often the dominant ig also requires medical care. This is only if you are lucky enough to have both survive. Iguana teeth are a dangerous weapon and can do a lot of damage.

Even if iguanas have coexisted peaceably for a while, there is no guarantee it will continue that way forever. People have had iguanas live together for years, and then suddenly turn on each other with no reason. During breeding season, especially, it is very dangerous to have iguanas near each other. Sometimes even being within sight of each other is enough to drive some igs berserk. Gender is usually not a factor in this - it doesn't matter if you are thinking of housing 2 females, or a female and a male together - they do not like to share!

If you do decide to have more than one iguana, you will need to set up two appropriately sized cages for them, with heat and UVB lights in each cage. Also be prepared for double the expense in food bills, supply bills, and vet bills.

If you are willing and able to provide for more than one ig, with proper housing and care for each one, go for it! Each iguana has their own individual personality and it can be very rewarding caring for them. Just be sure you are prepared for the needs of each one.

Multiple Igs
Written by Veronica & used with permission

There's been a lot of questions about multiple igs. Some have purchased two thinking they need another ig's company. This is far from the truth. Breeding season seems to be the only time they seek each other out as they mature...and even then some igs come out hurt...or dead.

Some igs can live together...these are very few. To gaurantee two ig's health and well being, two cages are for each one. Each needs lights (UVB and heat), twice the food, twice the medical costs, etc. Igs are not cheap. Start up costs are the biggest part...unless something happens and you need an emergency vet run for a sick ig...or two...then it's more.

There is the occassional ig setup where multiples can be housed...BUT....every attempt at a seperate cage should be found. If housing together they would need plenty of room. This is how exhibits get by with multiples housed together. They make sure there is adequate room for each one...each one having it's own "space" (i.e. uvb, heat, watering and feeding stations). The ideal size for one ig is actually 9'W x 6'T x 3'D...for multiples you need to add 25% for the overall size.

More often then ig does become the "alpha" ig. This creates incredible stress for the "beta" ig. With nowhere to get away, and not being able to reap the benefits the other ig dominates, the beta ig will get stressed, sick and may eventually die from their illnesses. This is not including the physical damage the alpha can inflict.

Babies are put into overcrowded tanks. Many of the igs sold are often very sick as a partial result from these conditions...sometimes as a direct result. Igs often do well as small babies together as there is safety in numbers from wild instincts and the predator/prey game...they being the prey and many eyes make safer groups, but it doesn't take long for them to start playing the survival game...only the strong survive.

I hope this clears things up a bit for those that are wondering "Why do I need two cages if my igs came from the same cage to begin with?" Igs don't care about family ties, siblings, parents...they care about what will keep them alive...and if it means keeping the good stuff for be it...the other will die and it wins the "game". That's life with wild animals. That's what igs are first and foremost.

Multiple Igs Per Cage
Written by Jim Goodrich of WIGY & used with permission

I’ve been an iguana-care educator for over 4 years. Most of the mistakes I advise people to avoid or fix, I’ve made in the past. Among those mistake is housing two iguanas together.

For two years I housed my beloved Loiosh (R.I.P.) and Rocza (probably my favorite all-time iguana, just don’t tell the others) together. They were together from August 1997 to November 1999. They seemed to get along fine. They each had their own basking areas and food dishes. I never noticed any signs of aggression. In fact they would sometimes eat side by side.

Then, in October of 1999 Loiosh began having problems. It is still unclear what exactly was happening to her, but I believe (based observations, blood tests, necropsy results, and after-the-fact research) several things were going on. Loiosh, in her younger years was fed, in addition to her vegetables (and even that was not a proper diet) store-bought dry iguana food that was very high in protein. So it was at this point, when she was around 5 years old, that her kidneys began failing.

Loiosh had, by my estimation, developed and reabsorbed eggs in the past. For the two years she had lived with Rocza she didn’t appear to cycle at all. But this year she did. I will add that Rocza is, again in my estimation (based on observation and the reading of some field studies of iguanas in the wild), a beta-male (or a omega-male). That is to say, he is a rather submissive male, that isn’t too inclined to breed or (in the wild) hold territory. But once Loiosh cycled Rocza apparently responded to the pheromones and tried or succeeded in breeding her; she had the typical bite marks on her shoulders, which were almost identical to those pictured in the book I looked in for said pictures.

As soon as I realized what was happening (the breeding; the kidney failure was not apparent until too late) I separated them. A very good friend on mine bailed me out and took Rocza for me temporarily. Loiosh died, apparently from kidney failure, on December 24th, 1999. Neither my vet nor myself realized she was that ill (we were discussing figure out how to treat her). Had she just had the one problem we would have had a better chance of understanding the problem. There was just too much going on.

Housing more than one iguana per cage is dangerous and trouble just waiting to happen. It is hard or impossible to monitor normal behavior and food consumption in those circumstances. And I’ve since read about situations where they don’t try to breed, but simply fight and gravely injure or kill each other. We owe it to our iguanas to give them the best life possible and that means one iguana per cage.




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