How I Train my Iguana

Training an iguana has to be fun. You have to figure out what you want to teach her and why. In my case I wanted my iguana to have three basic skills:

Be housetrained

  • One who would go potty in the shower when she had the need to go would find her way into the shower and go.

Be controllable at all times

  • To listen to a command that would bring her to attention immediately, no matter what circumstances were around her or what instinct was consuming her at the time

To have movie star skills

  • One who would respond to me and come to me on when called. Who would maneuver over obstacles to reach me no matter where we were and what distractions were around her.
  • One who would stay in her spot for a pose or during action happening around her.
  • One who would look in my direction on cue in a curious and cute way

Angels first showerIt didn’t take long to develop the skills, in fact in the first week she had been housetrained, but not at a consistent level. But now, I come home and find that she has gone potty in the shower herself. Not on the floor, or in front of the toilet, but inside the corner of the shower.

It took repletion. Over and over, praising her and rewarding her, not with food, but with love and affection and hoop-la-la. If you could hear me, I sound like a crazy lady, praising her loudly and pompously. Holding her high and making a big deal out of her going where she should go. It sticks. It cements it within her brain that this is a big deal, one that makes mom break out in song and dance. I imprint it on her mind.


I did have her going on the floor in the bathroom for a while. My shower has an eight inch shelf to climb over and into. Usually she wouldn’t go over it. She just pottied outside of it, close and willing, but not motivated enough. There had to be a reason to go into the shower. Thus, placing her water bowl inside the shower gave her a reason to go inside. It worked. If she wants a drink of water, she knows the water is there. That is my secret for potty training.

On the “stay” or “behave” command I find you need a word or sound that calms them, or gets their attention. The choose the word “Easy”. The combination of sounds is soothing and works for Angel. I drag out the sound and emphasize it as strongly as needed. I start with a soft eeeaazzzzzy, and if she is in an instinct driven mode I add stronger emphasis to bring her to attention. I envision her calming and if there is a necessary behavior ahead I need I envision that as well.

To make her come to me, it only takes a favorite treat, In angel’s case it is a piece of bread or perhaps kidney beans. She goes crazy over these. I use the only for my training, an occasionally as a treat for good behavior. It took many hours to train her to come from a distance. I started by showing her the bite of bread and she would come to me an arm’s length away. I slowly moved the treat further and further away. I found 6 feet was about all I could get her to do.

But what about coming to me from a distance, looking at me as I walk towards her and becoming alert and on point, and running over to me?

Enter me and my lunch. The sight of me with a big plate of human food, the sound of my fork hitting the plate, my lips smacking as I eat a big bite and the sound of me expressing “It’s so good!” really gets her. A warmed piece of 12 -grain bread gets a good aroma going. I walk in to the room and her eyes are on my plate. As I carry it closer, she gets down and runs to the edge of the table. I have her now, she will look where the food it and come to where ever the plate is. A small morsel of taste is offered and if I sit on the floor she is down in an instant to have her fill.

It is important to have her “iguana friendly” food on the plate, as not to allow her to eat rich food that will negatively impact her kidneys. Always keep in mind that an iguanas body cannot process rich foods. Nothing from an animal is the rule, so keep that in mind. No meat, cheese, dairy. Treats should be just that. I keep it to a half slice of bread with healthy greens in the mix. The plate, thought for your lunch should be made keeping in mind her dietary needs as well.

So you see, your lizard, can be trained. It only takes time and repletion and the willingness to do it. It has to be a labor of love and it has to be fun. You have to plan what you want to accomplish. You need to notice the traits your baby has and work with them. Some reptiles do things naturally. Work with them…and just have a lot of fun!

It has just over a year, Angel has accomplished all these skills. She is ready to place in an agency and she is ready for her close up.

Enjoy your baby every day!