Setting Up Your Iguana Tanks
Many reptile owners are unaware that insufficient iguana tanks are the leading cause of poor iguana health. It is important to understand the requirements of a proper iguana habitat before committing to owning a reptile. Iguanas grow to be at least five feet long when they reach maturity and can live to be about twenty years old, which means that this will be a large and long term pet! Iguana tanks serve most of their purpose while the iguana is young. When your iguana reaches adulthood, it will need quite a bit of room to exercise and in most cases, a cage will provide too many limitations. Let’s take a look at some of the key points that an iguana tank should possess…
If you intend to keep your iguana in a cage when it reaches adulthood, it will need to be at least ten feet long and four or five feet high. This will prevent you from having to build new enclosures as your iguana continues to grow. Glass makes a great choice of material, but few people have the resources to make this type of enclosure at home. If you are set on having glass as the material of your iguana enclosure, you might look into having the cage custom-built locally. If this is not an option for you, then consider using imitation glass. Although the cage does have to be long enough to give your iguana room to move around, height is also very important because iguanas LOVE to climb and will spend most of their time in high places.
There are many materials that you can use as the bedding or flooring of the enclosure. Orchid bark, fake turf, newspaper, carpet, and bunched up paper can be used. There are a few things that should be avoided because they can be toxic or pose as a choking or digestive threat if eaten. These items include cedar chips, sand, gravel, pebbles, and cob. One must even be careful with using store-bought litters and pellets, as there have been many instances in which iguanas have suffered and even died as a result of intestinal impaction.
Remember that your iguana will be desperate with the instinct to climb, so you should have something in the cage that he can climb on. A shaved log or thick, bark-less branch would work well, as would large rocks and thick ropes. Branches and logs from outside need to be treated before you put them into the enclosure. One way to do this is to bake the branches at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about two to two and a half hours. Alternately, you can submerge the branch into a solution of watered-down bleach. Use about a cup of bleach for every gallon of water. Allow it to soak for a full day, then replace the bleach solution with fresh water. Allow the branch to soak for another full day, then place it in a sunny spot to dry out. It may take the better part of a week for the wood to completely dry out, so be prepared to wait!
Heating and Lighting
The temperature and lighting are very important factors of iguana tanks. Full-spectrum fluorescent lighting that provides UVB will be necessary. This should be fitted to a reflective hood above your iguana’s tank. This is not a simple light source for your iguana, but it actually provides vitamins that your reptile will need to be healthy and happy. Take the necessary precautions so that the light fits solidly to the roof of your tank and also so that your iguana cannot climb up onto the lamp. The light should be on for twelve hours and then off for twelve hours.
A source of heat is equally important to your iguana as he cannot grow to his full potential without the proper environmental temperature. The ideal temperature for an iguana enclosure is between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not let the temperature drop below 75 degrees. Ceramic heating elements work well for large enclosures, however you must be sure that your iguana cannot physically touch the element, as this could result in a severe burn. Hot rocks and heating pads should be avoided for the same reason. You may also want to install a thermometer in the tank so that you can constantly monitor the interior temperature.