Reptile Information from



   Green iguanas are found in warm rain forest climates; most of the iguanas we purchase are being produced at facilities in Columbia or other South or Central American countries, and sent to Miami for domestic shipment. Although the climate at the farms is identical to that in a wild environment, the diet that domestic iguanas become accustomed to is slightly different from that of their wild counterparts, and eating habits and response to human proximity will be altered. 

   The response of iguanas to the stress of to shipping and temperature however, can be significant, and can contribute to an increased mortality rate if not dealt with properly. 

   Before shipping, baby iguanas have been fed a mixture of Purina Monkey Chow and a vegetable similar to pumpkins. Pumpkins or yellow squash are an adequate substitute when mixed with an equal amount of Monkey Chow which has been soaked with water until soft. Other fruits or vegetables may be added to this blend; here at Fish Mart they are fed a mixture of shredded yellow squash, red and green bell peppers, zucchini, cantaloupe, cucumbers, pears and apples. 

   An advantage farm raised iguanas have over wild ones, as far as the pet trade is concerned, is that they are virtually parasite-free and usually come in without broken tails and toes or bruised mouths, which can be a serious health threat. These iguanas are also MUCH more resilient to the stresses of shipping than wild ones. When a shipment of iguanas is received, it is reasonable to assume they are stressed from their travels. Under these conditions, the worst thing to do is feed them right away. If they are dehydrated, their digestive system will try to extract water from the food in their stomachs, causing the food to harden and eventually kill them. It is more important to provide water and a source of heat right away. You may add Gatorade to their water

 for electrolytes, but never more than a 50 per cent dilution. They may also be allowed to soak their bodies in this solution, but be sure the temperature is at least 80 degrees. Sometimes in very active areas, iguanas are reluctant to come down from their perches to hydrate. In these conditions, get a new, never previously used insecticide sprayer, fill it with water and electrolytes, and mist your iguana several times a day. 

   After your iguanas have settled into their new environment, supply them with fresh food regularly. A good starting diet is freshly shredded yellow squash and/or pumpkin with Romaine lettuce. Caring for these young iguanas is very easy. 

   For those who wish to keep a number of these animals, our space recommendation is three baby iguanas to one ten gallon tank, and you can follow this formula for larger tanks (not including “high” tanks). Cover the bottom of the tank with pine (NOT cedar!) shavings or astroturf, and provide a good size, shallow water dish with regularly changed lukewarm water (with electrolytes) so that the lizards can bathe and drink freely. Afterwards, follow the feeding suggestions stated above; vegetables alone should provide adequate nourishment, but you can try supplementing them with a high quality packaged iguana food. A suspended spotlight or heat lamp with reflector is an ideal source of heat if placed in such a way as to let them self-regulate their temperatures. Allowing them to reach temperatures of 95 degrees is fine, as long as they can remove themselves from the heated area whenever they wish.

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