All about that Iguana

Majestic,  big,  beautiful,  cool looking… It’s no wonder reptile lovers want to flock to such a wonderful beast.  A green iguana can sell for as low as $20 but that’s just the actual animal.  What people often fail to realize is these magnificent beasts get big,  have care needs, need time to get used to owner,  and they need space… Lots of space.  

My first iguanas were an elderly male iguana who lived out the rest of his few years with us and a scraggly female whom had suspected cancer who we eventually rehomed to someone who didn’t mind a psycho lizard.  I didn’t want to rehome her but she was taking up so much space and she wanted to possibly murder me.  Someone was interested in working with her we jumped on the opportunity…we don’t get much updates but last time I checked she’s still psychotic.  

And then there’s Rosie.  Just when we thought we were done with large lizards this beautiful girl caught our eyes and so many people were being tire kickers trying to acquire her for as cheap as possible.  But she’s worth more than the value of a red iguana.  Never in my life would I consider a free range lizard… Well Rosie is a free roamer and since we are home most of the time and my husband works from home we can keep an eye on her.  She hasn’t gotten into anything she’s not supposed to she just loves to lounge.  

There’s a bit of controversy with “free roam”  but the fact is it all depends on the specific animal.  Some can be trained others can not.  I’ve seen a few free range monitors and tegus who do great.  All you need is a basking spot area for the animal.  Our iguana has a cubby hole with her lights and our reptile room is always warm if she needs to regulate she just moves.  This summer has been hot,  she even came into our air conditioned room a few times.  

Rosie enjoys car trips and loves to bask in the car.  This often gets us weird looks from  cars behind us.  She will even eat on the go,  she loves food and had never been too stressed out to eat.  When she hates something she shakes her head,  she doesn’t bite doesn’t tail whip.  Her claws are the only concern because even a well meaning grip can chop your arms up pretty nicely.  Anyone who owns a big lizard knows about love cuts.  A well placed towel or wearing a sweater can prevent love cuts.  

Back to the free range… Rosie is 3 years old and has been trained her whole life to not be In an enclosure.  This takes lots of time to do… Lots of work with a juvenile iguana needs to be done. I’ve had a psychotic iguana and a skittish lizard can do all sorts of damage to someone.  So having a calm, easily handled iguana is key to free range.  She gets along with the cats and dog and does not even flinch if she is touched or someone walks beside her.  I have had to coax her out of my way because she can and will take up the floor just because she feels like it.  She’s big enough that nobody is going to accidentally step on her.  A lizard this big is quite hard to lose in a house.  And even if she hides her tail will likely still be sticking out of her hiding spot.  

Rosie is on a diet of fresh veggies.  Her staples are collard greens and dandelion.  These are the most balanced greens for an iguana.  We mix other veggies in such as the occasional peices of spring mix,  shredded carrots,  squash,  apples,  strawberries,  sometimes kale,  peppers,  leeks etc.  She absolutely lives bananas and they are an occasional treat for her.  To get an idea of a well balance iguana diet you can find a good care sheet online that explains what they should have regularly,  what they should have occasionally or sparingly etc.  They should only eat fresh veggies,  thawed frozen is OK too we have freezer extra dandelion and collard greens.  
Also make sure you have access to a herp vet just incase.  Luckily we haven’t had to go to the vet yet but there’s a 24 hour vet who specializes in all kinds of animals pretty close to us so if anything were to happen we are all set.  We love our iguana to death and to be honest she is probably the best birthday gift I’ve ever gotten.  We are glad we made the decision to care for a nice young,  friendly healthy iguana.  The previous owners did a wonderful job raising her.  

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