Iguana Questions & Answers I                  

 
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Misc Lizards 6
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Decorating
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Different Watersprite

LA
As your iguana grows, his toe nails make the hat even more necessary.
 

How big do iguanas get?

Iguanas grow four to six feet long – most of that tail.  Females tend toward the four-foot size, males toward the six.  Actually, six-footers are not that common.  

Another way to measure size is weight.  Really big iguanas can grow to 15 pounds – about the poundage of an overweight cat.  Igs take years and years to grow this heavy.  You will not likely see one this big. 

Do broken iguana tails grow back?

Yes, sort of.  The closer the break to the body, the shorter the new tail.  It may take as long as a year for an iguana to grow back his tail.  And it never will be quite as long as the original.  And it will not grow back the same color.

Because their tails detach so easily, you can’t always determine their age by their length.  Handle yours carefully.

Do torn off toe nails or toes grow back?

No.  However, missing bits and pieces -- including the crest on his back -- will not affect your iguana.

Do small cages stunt the growth of iguanas?

No.  Small aquariums stunt the growth of fishes.  Small cages will not stunt your iguana’s growth.  They will, however, stress them and thus lower their resistance to disease. 

Small cages also limit the activity of your iguana.  If you keep yours cooped up in a small cage, take him out and let him roam around.  Iguanas need cages for their own protection – the bigger the better.

LA
Pair of five year olds.  Male on bottom.  Female on top.

How fast do iguanas grow?

Iguanas hatch out weighing about half an ounce and measure 7-10 inches long.  They grow amazingly fast – one inch per month.  If you feed them incorrectly, they can grow as much as two inches per month.

Grow faster on an incorrect diet?  Yup.  Too much nutrition (especially too much protein) causes unhealthy growth spurts.  They get big fast and die early – usually from kidney failure.

LA
Provide your iguana green leafy lettuce as opposed to iceberg lettuce.

Iguanas normally eat a great deal of leaves (not known as the most nutritious food in the world).  Their long digestive tracts and the mini-critters that live in them enable them to digest foods that would zip right through us.  We call it roughage or salad.

LA
Iguanas like bananas, too -- not a recommended food.

Heat plays a key factor in their digestive process.  They need 85o (at a minimum) to digest their food.  What they do not need is easily digestible, highly nutritious foods on a regular basis.  Give them any strange food you want on an occasional basis.  But make sure they get their recommended leafy diet over the long haul.

 

Why are my iguana’s back legs not working?

Calcium deficiency.  Get him to a vet for a calcium gluconate injection NOW.  Then start adding a phosphorus-free calcium supplement with vitamin D3 to his food.

When is the breeding season?

Iguanas mate in the late winter.  They lay their eggs in the early spring.  Females get real lumpy right before laying their eggs.

LA
Female iguanas usually sport smaller spikes and smaller dewlaps.

When are iguanas sexually mature?

Somewhere around two years of age many iguanas start feeling their oats.  Males are more turned on than the females and put a lot more of their efforts into aggressive behavior.

If you have no idea of your iguana’s exact age, look for a behavior change when he reaches 30 to 36 inches.

If you plan to breed them, young breeders will naturally produce fewer eggs, but they also require much less room.

LA
Male.  Note the pores on the insides of his thighs.  Much smaller on females.

How do you sex iguanas?

I really doubt you can sex baby iguanas.   And when they’re little, their sex makes no difference to them (or you).

But somewhere around two to three years of age, strange things start happening.  Those old hormones start juicing them up and they change – in actions and appearance.  Their sex becomes quite obvious.

LA
Breeding size male iguana -- about five years old.  Note the larger dorsal spines.

Males grow larger dewlaps and head crests.  They start looking more like dragons than ever.  They grow larger in body size.  Some even turn orange during the breeding season.

Most female iguanas retain their mainly green coloration.  They stay daintier looking with less “decorations” in their head area.

Males become less cooperative.  They may challenge you as a potential predator.  You’ll see head bobbing, wide open mouths, and attempted tail lashings as “keep out of my way” warnings.  They even flare up when they see a picture of another iguana.

You cannot keep two male iguanas in the same cage at this time.  Former brothers become intense rivals in continuing their species.  They will injure each other severely.  Most females get along together -- not all.

Are the sex ratios the same?

Years ago, John Leach told us 10 males come into the country for every female.  The iguana farmers control their sex (to control competition) by keeping the eggs at a specific temperature.  Now that John brought it up, there do seem to be more males than females.

Are “Lizard Lights” full spectrum?

Whatsa matter?  Can’t you read the label?  They say “full-spectrum,” don’t they?

Unfortunately, there seems to be a discrepancy in the way some manufacturers measure their spectrums (or is it spectra?).

Incandescent basking lights do not emit UV-B (the light your Ig needs to manufacture vitamin D3).  But they do say “full-spectrum.”  Now, we see fluorescent bulbs that screw in.  These should correct the problem.

Most manufactured iguana foods and supplements contain vitamin D3 these days.  Many natural foods do not.  Be aware of this potential problem.

Are canned iguana foods any good?

You bet.  My only gripe with them is there’s too much food in the can.  Once you open the can, strange colored cultures start growing on it.

I suggest you open the can, plonk the iguana food out on a saucer, and cut it into six or eight pie-shaped wedges.

Give him one wedge (on a lettuce leaf with a sprig of parsley, of course) and freeze the other wedges.  Freeze each in its own separate baggie for convenience.

As your iguana grows, you can give him extra wedges.  No way can a small iguana eat anywhere near a can of food.  Later … no problemo.

Are orange donuts okay to feed to my iguana?

We don’t think up these questions ourselves.  These are actual questions.  And the reason they asked was because their iguana likes orange-frosted donuts.

Obviously, orange-frosted donuts are not one of the foods iguanas eat in nature.  But nearly any food is fine in small quantities.

 

What should I put on the bottom of my iguana’s cage?

Several manufacturers provide artificial turf for the floor of your iguana cage.  Of course iguanas eat parts of it.  It would be difficult to name a substrate they cannot eat.  Do not use cedar chips.

Advantages of artificial turf:

  1. Colorful.

  2. Reusable.

  3. Economical.

  4. Easy to clean.

Disadvantages include the way their toenails catch in it when you pull them out and the way they can “dig up” the loose corners and spoil your nice, neat cage.  I weight mine with a few selected rocks, water bowls, and wood to climb upon.

I dislike gravel and ground corncobs because they’re way too easy for them to eat.  Why encourage them to eat indigestible lumps?

The new reptile bark litters look good and are too big to swallow.  They look very natural in a reptile cage.

Rabbit pellets look a little strange on your cage bottom (until you get used to them).  But why not a digestible cage floor?  Just scoop out the soiled parts or replace it all.  Rabbit pellets cost very little.  If they get wet ... what a mess.

How do I find a lost iguana?

If you lose him outside, look in the want ads.  Lotsa luck.  If you lose him inside the house, look on top of your drapes.

Do iguanas carry diseases?

One recent study found Salmonella bacteria in the excrement of 77% of the iguanas studied.  Testing excrement is not my idea of a fun job.

But what this says is YES they do carry disease – salmonella.  Iguanas lick everything in sight -- including each other.  So if one in a cage has it, they all have it.

Solution?  Wash your hands after handling any reptile or amphibian.  In fact, wash your hands after handling any pet.

LA
Don't mix your dishes with your iguana's dishes.

Can I feed my iguana out of a regular cereal bowl?

Yes, but don’t.  If you do, don’t eat out of it at the same time he eats out of it.  Iguanas always tip cereal bowls over (just like kids).  Use a heavy ceramic or other non-tippable bowl.  LA.

More Info?  Go to Iguana Q&A II

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