Iguana Care Basic Information Mar 25, 2004 6:47:09 GMT -8
Post by Tesa on Mar 25, 2004 6:47:09 GMT -8
Iguanas are strict vegetarians! You should keep him on a diet of greens and vegetables containing at least twice as much calcium as phosphorus. If he doesn't get enough calcium, he will develop Metabolic Bone Disease. They will not over eat, so you should provide them with as much food as they want. Iguanas require a temperature of higher than 88 in order to properly digest their food. It’s best if they receive the biggest meal mid-morning so they have time to digest it before the cooler nighttime temperature.
60-70% of his diet should be greens. Collard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, endive and watercress are all good choices.
Greens should be torn or cut into pieces roughly the size of the iguana’s head.
30-40% of his diet should be veggies. Some good veggies are: green beans, snap peas, yellow/orange squash, parsnips, turnips, and spaghetti squash.
Vegetables should be chopped, grated, or run thru a food processor until they are small enough for your iguana to swallow easily.
About 10% of his diet can be fruits. Fruits don't really add much in the way of nutrition. They are mainly for color and moisture. They should be used as "treats". The best fruits to use are: papaya, mango, apple, plums, and strawberries. Watermelon is great if you need to hydrate you ig.
Your iguana should always have fresh drinking water available.
Iguanas are arboreal by nature (meaning they live in trees) and have a strong instinct to climb and bask at the highest level possible. They feel much safer if they can sit up high and look down on everyone else, so taller is definitely better. He'll think it's wonderful to have several places up high where he can keep one eye out for "predators" while he is snoozing and soaking up "sun". Enough room must be provided for the animal to move around, thermo regulate, eat, drink, bask, and sleep. A healthy iguana will grow to around 3 feet long by the end of his second year, and may ultimately reach 6 feet in length. As an adult, it will need an enclosure that measures about 6 feet tall, 8 feet long and 4 feet deep. It is much more cost effective to start out with an enclosure suitable for your ig when he is adult size
It is also important to provide adequate climbing apparatus for your Iguana to explore their environment and move around safely and comfortably. Whatever you provide should be stable and strong enough to adequately support the Iguanas weight. Be sure to check these items as the Iguana grows to make sure they are still strong enough. Climbing items can be made from many things, use your imagination, but use materials that can be cleaned/disinfected regularly. Aside from climbing, the iguana will need places where he can lay flat and comfy. Shelves can be easily customized to accomodate the particular size of the Iguana as well as the shape of the enclosure and basking area.
Substrate:(the stuff you put in the bottom of the cage)
You will need something in the bottom of the cage that can be cleaned easily. Since Iguanas regularly flick their tongues out to check out their environment, it is recommended that particulate matter not be used. (Wood chips or sand for example) If your iguana accidentally ingests particles, it can get lodged in his digestive tract and cause a deadly blockage.
Most people find that newspaper is the cheapest, easiest, and safest substrate, others prefer paper towels, linoleum or indoor/outdoor carpet.
Since iguanas are cold-blooded, they need to be able to move into warmer and cooler areas of their enclosures to regulate body temperature. This process is call thermo regulation.
They need a basking spot with an optimal temperature of 92-95F, along with cooler places ranging down to around 75F. Ordinary household light bulbs work great to provide both heat and light. You can easily change to a different wattage if you need to raise or lower the temp. Installing thermometers in various places within the enclosure will enable you to monitor temperature changes. At the very least you should have one at the basking spot and one at the coolest part of the cage. Since wild iguanas bask in the sunlight, heat and light should come from above. Heat Rocks should not be used. There are countless cases of iguanas being burned.
If you live in an area where temperatures do not allow you to expose your iguana to natural, unfiltered sunlight, he will also need a special bulb that produces UVB rays (fake sunlight). UVB is necessary for iguanas to absorb calcium. There are several types of bulbs that emit UVB rays, however the most commonly recommended is the Reptisun 5.0. This is a fluorescent tube that costs around 20 dollars.
A word of caution: Bulbs labeled as “Full Spectrum” mislead many people. These bulbs do not emit UVB.
Iguanas require a day/night cycle. It is recommended that you have yours on a schedule of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.
Nighttime temps should not fall below 70F; therefore you may need a heat source that also allows darkness. One of the best ways is to use Ceramic Heat Emitters (CHE’s), which screw into a porcelain light socket and give off only heat, not light. Special bulbs may also be purchased that have a colored coating on them to minimize the amount of light emitted. Red or black bulbs are generally recommended.
An iguana’s natural habitat is tropical rainforest; therefore, they require high humidity. They need the moist air to help with shedding. Try to keep the humidity level in the enclosure between 65-75%. Humidity can be increased by misting the cage and the iguana with a spray bottle several times a day and by placing a humidifier or large tubs of water in the enclosure. You can also give your iguana a bath every day in water that is shoulder deep and around 85 degrees.
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