Iguanas need a special diet, they are complete vegetarians, and their diet should consist of 80% healthy greens and the rest fruit and flowers. They need daily exposure to the sun. It is essential to keeping them healthy. How many hours a day is up to you, Babe spent nearly 7-8 hours outside, weather permitting and this helped him live to be nearly 21 years old. He really enjoyed watching nature from his lounge high exploring his territory we called Babeland. He was always reluctant to come in at night and I think on some summer nights he craved a camp-out, which he never got because I couldn’t sleep without him at my side every night.
Using special UVA/B lamps are necessary indoors, but be careful. I made the mistake of thinking if they get warm they will move out of the way, but they don’t always know that and my iggie suffered some small burns and I felt so bad! They will appear a dark spots that don’t want to shed, but with time they began to heal.
I find a Solar Glow from 24-36 inches is safe and a ceramic heat lamp about 24 inches will keep my Angel warm, along with an electric throw underneath. You can get florescent tubes too, they are good for a sunny spot in a window because they off no warmth. Let me add to NEVER place an iguana in front of a sunny window in an enclosure, the enclosure will heat and they have no way to escape. Iguanas don’t sweat. When you see an iguana turn a light color and open his mouth, he is overheating, take him to a place to cool down.
Iguanas naturally want to look down at you, like from a tree top, so keep your lounging spot high, especially when they are young, to keep their anxiety down and their spirits up.
Keeping an iguana in a large, decorated tank is OK, but only for about the first year of life. When they are small, under 11 inches snout to vent, a nice vivarium can suffice, for a home, but you HAVE to socialize them daily. Iguanas are intelligent and smart and seek excitement. They want to play and do things.
A life of solitude will lead to an unfulfilled life and a take away their will to live. So it is my mission to teach all reptile lovers the importance of daily interaction and lavishing of love. No stacked tanks on the wall. No “collections”.
You’ll want to take them out in the morning place them in the shower, ideally a warm, steamy shower and let them potty. Dry them off and hold them close to you. Allow them freedom to roam and explore. Allow them to learn how to get back into his home. It will take time, but they will learn.
They will outgrow an enclosure and you wil need to think of an outdoor enclosure. Think about putting two, four panel room dividers together and putting places to rest on with ways to climb.
When they become a juvenile in about a year, they will need a freedom lounge in front of the window with no barriers. In fact they will need an entire room. My angel stays in my bedroom and sleeps in the closet at night. I close the door when I have to work and remove things she could spill or break just in case.
I provided Babe with as much freedom as I could and it was a constant learning experience to figure out how to keep him healthy and happy. He would climb the olive trees and I would coax him down with a large pole, shaking the tree and touching his tail, till he made it to the edge of the tree and ride the branch down to a lower branch till he reached his ladder down. He spent most of his days in the tree until he was about 11, then he began to become more of a ground dweller.
I placed a branch outside my window, covered it with a net so he could grip it better and he would come and go, in and out of the house as he wanted. There was a large lounge pad that overlooked the yard and a ladder that led down to Babeland. A wonderful garden with a fountain surrounded by rock and flowers and organic greens. It as his territory and he loved it.
Babes missing again!
He knew how to come into the house, by window, sliding patio door, or tapping on the front door. I would find him at the window, trying to slide the glass with his nose. He knew it opened, and he knew sometimes if he just kept trying it would open (what he didn’t realize is that I was the one sliding it open for him!) With that said, freedom does have its price and he paid with broken toes. Getting them caught in wrought iron furniture and on his ladder shortened his climbing days. If I can give anyone advice, I would use think about what their claws can get caught in and remove it from your yard or his space.
I was not informed of proper care at first, only brief instructions from his previous owner to give him mineral and calcium supplements avoid animal protein, try to keep him as humanly warm as possible and the importance of sunlight.
As a rule, I always tried to keep him as warm as I was. When he was young, just like humans, he rarely had health issues, mainly mouth and sinus infections caused by getting cold or breathing cold air. He had a tendency to move from his lamps and explore the yard and the house. Just like us, we’ve got to get up and move.