The Green Iguana, once one of the most popular reptiles to own, is still a popular pet in the US.
This reptile's natural habitat consists of rain forests in areas of South America, and some areas of North America, and a select few Caribbean Islands.
Unfortunately, this pet has been banned in many states due to becoming an invasive species in the Florida Everglades. Destroying the natural habitats of animals living in the everglades. With this being said there are still many responsible owners of the Green Iguana in the US.
Green Iguanas are susceptible to many disorders such as Metabolic Bone Disease, Mouth Rot (Stomatitis), and parasites, like most reptile disorders these are preventable with proper husbandry. Proper husbandry for Green Iguanas consists of housing, lighting, temperature, and diet.
Iguanas are of the larger sized lizards that usually grow around five feet in length but can grow up to 6 to 7 feet. Since they get so large proper housing should consist of an enclosure that is relatively large, usually 6 feet in height, wide enough for them to fully turn around, and the length should be about double the size of their body length. Height is important for Iguanas due to their arboreal (living in trees) lifestyle.
Temperatures between 100-120 F are important for the high end of their enclosures, while temperatures of 80 F are okay for the low end of their enclosures. Ultra Violet Bulbs or UVBs are important to help with preventing MBD, along with Vit D & Calcium supplementation. One disorder that is common in most lizards and is seen in the Green Iguana is Cryptosporidium. This is a protozoal parasite that can live in the gastrointestinal tract, it can either cause clinical signs such as reduced appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, or can be subclinical (no clinical signs). Since it is possible to show no clinical signs with this infection, it makes it even more important for reptile owners to have a Veterinarian check annual to bi-annual fecals. This disorder is treatable with medications, but if not caught early this can become difficult to treat and can cause severe problems in reptiles such as Cloacal prolapse (prolapse of the end of the GI tract) in the Green Iguana.
Like most reptiles, Iguana's husbandry is extremely important to their health, and should be owned by responsible experienced reptile owners as their size and life span make them a more challenging pet to care for. Information should be sought out from educated reptile Veterinarians and credible online sources before purchasing this pet.
If you have an Iguana and you want to ask us some questions we will be very happy to answer you. Please comment on this post or write to us if you have a specific question about Iguana health. In the Staten Island Veterinary Group, we are experts in Iguana and other exotic animals.