To understand the iguana you must understand the seasons.
Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter change with the direction of the sun, and they are better known as the Solstices. They fall on March 20, June 21, September 21 and December 21. These dates are very important to our green friend and result in changes that you could misinterpret as a health or behavior issue.
- June 21
Let’s start with summer. Summer brings on a voracious appetite, lots of lounging and foraging and a kicked back, I am on vacation attitude. They crave the sun and fun and eat a lot of food.
The longest day of the year is the most anticipated day for an iguana. It marks the beginning of his “vacation” life style. Eat drink and be merry will be his demeanor. He looks forward to pigging out on foods of all colors, kinds and textures. His senses are alive with the sites and sounds of nature.
The sun is giving off plenty of bright, warm rays and he just wants to sunbathe and find cover in the heat of the day under some greenery that gives off coolness and sweet oxygen. Oh the life of a lizard!
A bit of foraging is in order at the end of the day to check out what other creatures are sharing his territory and what new plants or flowers are blooming. He may or may not stay up later. My boy babe liked to stay up and watcht the sun go down, yet my girl Angel just kept to her same “hit the hay” at 4:30 and snuggle in a safe place for the nite.
Yes summer is a time to fatten up and enjoy the abundance that God gives us all, before the days shorten and other insticts come into play.
- September 21
As the leaves change you will notice a nearly instant loss of appetite. The 2 or 3 plates of food he used to eat are now just one, and begins to taper off dramatically.
His behavior mellows and he may be more receptive to petting an cuddling in the morning. He should be content with a pillow in the window with a retpi-sun bulb overhead for warmth and UVa/b light. You should see that he wants to hang out with you more.
Being back in the house and not in his outdoor enclosure may be hard for him to accept. By bringing him outside to see that the weather is too cold and breezy for him he will begin to understand that inside is much better.
His personality is more of a lounge lizard and he may want to start to go to bed earlier.
- December 21
Food intake may be merely a bite or two in the morning and in the afternoon. Make sure you give him access to plenty of water. I find daily baths in the shower help keep him hydrated and I fill up the sink and let the water run as I drizzle a glass of water in front of his mouth. Once he sticks out his tongue and tastes the cool refreshment, he drinks till he is full. He raised his head and stands like a proud iguana as he swallows it down.
A girl iguana could be creating her eggs. They will stop eating for 2 weeks and you will notice a big difference in the poo. It will be ribbony and narrow, and then will turn to pieces the size of almonds, then raisins, then small rabbit size. Their belly will expand and they will gain weight without eating. Make sure you sneak some calcium and minerals in on bite of food daily to insure the calcium to make the eggs isn’t coming from her bones.
She will start to dig violently and without ceasing when she need to lay. They say to make a box with some coconut husks inside; you can find this at a reptile store, or use potting soil WITHOUT any perlite in it. (The little white rocks of perlite can plug them up and could kill them)
I put a warm blanket inside a large suitcase and place it in a place she seems to hide. For her is it under the bed in the corner of the room. You let them stay there as long as they want. They can lie for days, but should come out after laying a few and then daily they return to lay more. Take them to a vet when you think she has laid them all for an x-ray to insure she has laid all of the eggs.
You don’t want one left in her.
A boy iguana on the other hand is easier, but yet sometimes a challenge. He will have one thing on his mind. Mating. Mating season means you need to purchase a surrogate, which is a stuffed animal. It should be a reptile looking creature. Alligators work well, but Babe’s favorite was a Disney Dinosaur. I called her Annie and he loved her.
Male iguanas also get rough. They can chase you and bite you during this time.
Check out out my Babe and the Shoe video
It is not because they are mean; it is because they have an instinct in them that tells them to do this. Iguanas mating habits could be conceived as violent. The male pins the female down by biting her neck and taking control of her. If the female is accepting, the act will be mild, but if he has to chase her and she rebels, he will do all in his power to hold her and it can result his teeth biting thru her skin.
So just be aware of why your male begins to become aggressive in nature. It is just the way it is. If you give him a surrogate to release his hormones on, he is less likely to lash out at you.
During this time the males become bright colored. Orange appears on their legs and dewlap and other places on their bodies. A white waxy substance fills their femoral pores on the inside of their legs and releases a pheromone that attracts the females. He will mark his territory, rubbing his legs on the ground, traveling thru every corner of the house looking for love.
Winter time is the most challenging time of all for the iguana owner, but it also the most exciting, fun and entertaining time as well. I remember walking down the hall and by Babe’s room and he would be lying in wait for me to walk by. He would just out and chase me as fast as he could until he could run no more. I would jump on the bed to get away. I’d grab his stuffed animal surrogate and he would be content. It was really funny and I found it precious!
- March 20
When March comes around, days are getting longer, birds are singing more, the plants are rebounding, their shoots are young and delicious and food begins to be a factor again. On March 20, he will begin to start being interested in food and mellowness overtakes him.
After the months of the mating season, there seems to be a sigh of relif. The high strung, hormonal behavior just stops and a new persona emerges. There is such a change that you may even think something is wrong with him. His kicked back, mellow behavior may worry you and you may find yourself asking “Are you feeling OK, are you sick?”
You are just watching him become a lounge lizard. His vacation is starting and his hormones are tapering off. A desire for food overtakes his desire for mating and another season of the iguana has begun.