Wanna Iguana?

Many people suffer from allergies and that can make keeping a furry buddy a real sneeze-fest. While there are some great medical aids that can help with these issues another option is to look at the danderless side of the animal kingdom for itching eye free alternatives!

So let’s talk iguanas…

The first word in iguana care seems to be: preparedness. Which means that scooting down to your local pet store and picking up a scaly friend, along with a few essentials, really isn’t too feasible. Iguanas require a very specific environment in order to thrive and can also be dangerous when not handled properly.

If you’re considering taking on one of these beautiful reptiles, here’s a quick check list that might help you decide whether or not you’re the iguana type.

1) Legal: Iguanas are classified as exotic pets and it appears that in most places they’re legal to own, but just to make sure you’re not breaking any laws it never hurts to check. A brief search online reveals that it’s not a super quick task, but this is a good place to start checking your local laws and regulations regarding iguana, (or other exotic pet,) ownership: www.usa.gov.

2) Time: These fascinating creatures sure aren’t chia pets and you’ll need a lot of time to devote to their care. To begin with they’ll need a lot of contact in order to get used to interacting with a person(s), ideally at a young age. Their feeding habits will keep you busy chopping up fresh, dark leafy greens and preparing the occasional fruit (they’re known for loving figs!) along with other veggie edibles in order to maintain a good, healthy diet. They also enjoy humidity and will at the very least require fresh water mistings every few days.

3) Location/Space: An iguana enclosure needs both heated and cooler areas so that their temperatures can be regulated and should include some climbing objects so that the iguana can easily head up for a healthy heat soak. These temperature requirements aren’t something that can be neglected either as this can cause iguanas not only be uncomfortable- they actually require certain heat levels just to digest their food. Space is another important, (if not the most important,) aspect to consider as adult iguanas can get as large as 7 feet long (tail included) with an impressive weight of up to 20lbs! A lot of iguana owners who understand what proper care for these tree climbing lizards requires wind up giving them their very own rooms and with measurements like that it’s not hard to understand why. Iguanas also don’t like being loomed over in their enclosures so keeping them at least at waist level is a real must or they may become stressed out.

4) Dangers: From head to tail the iguana is equipped with some pretty scary means of defense. These include features like sharp teeth and claws as well as a tail that’s capable of being whipped hard enough to break a human bone. Protective clothing and some pure common sense can prevent you or your iguana from coming to any harm, but if your household includes other pets or small children it’s very much something to consider.

A note about salmonella: It’s unclear whether or not iguanas can carry this bacteria and pass it along to humans. When I say unclear what I mean is it’s currently being studied, reviewed, and sometimes heatedly argued over. As a precaution basic hygiene applications (washing your hands) should be applied whenever working with your lizard, or within their habitat.

5) Medical Care: Before bringing home a reptile it’s good to know where you can get help if needed. As an exotic animal you might have to do some hunting to make sure that you’ve got a veterinarian who can check or treat your reptile when the time comes and that’s not something you’ll want to leave to the last minute.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t at all quick, but let me stress again the importance of care. You should know that a good percentage of iguanas that are purchased when they’re tiny are then later abandoned as they grow much larger than their humans expected. Some pet stores have even stopped selling them altogether due to concerns about care and you’ll find more than a few articles discussing the idea that people shouldn’t bring them home at all. That said, if you have the means and a good understanding of what being an iguana guardian requires they can also be extremely affectionate, are wildly intelligent, and are no doubt one of the most interesting an incredible animals a person can befriend. They have fascinating features like a third (parietal) eye (I can’t say whether or not it sees the future) and a head bobbing language you might even come to understand. For lizards (or maybe any house critter) they live a long time- averaging 10-12 years in captivity and some even as long as 20! There’s no doubt that iguanas can make wonderful reptile friends, so if you’re thinking of it just be sure that you’re ready to be a good friend and good luck in your reptile adventure!

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