How To Properly House An Iguana
One of the biggest obstacles and a topic that is frequently discussed online is the iguanas enclosure. Unlike smaller reptiles like Leopard Geckos, Bearded Dragons or Collared Lizards, conventional housing methods such as aquariums would not be adequate. Even large aquariums, like the 55 gallon or 75 gallon are not large enough for an adult iguana. Iguanas need space to grow and stretch. They need space to thermoregulate and to feel secure. Ideally a spare bedroom or converted basement would work best. Since that isn't an option for most people we must look at alternative means of properly housing an iguana in captivity.
Your iguanas enclosure needs to be able to meet certain criteria in order for it to be of use to you and your lizard. You are going to need to create a tropical environment in your enclosure, so it needs to be able to hold and maintain heat and humidity. An enclosure designed entirely of mesh will not be able to do this adequately or consistently without constant assistance and attention. The enclosure needs to be able to support the proper lighting and heating elements without the iguana being able to come into contact with it. The enclosure needs to be structurally sound and sturdy. A good enclosure has some sort of locking mechanism. You do not want your iguana escaping. Meeting these needs won't be difficult with some preplanning and research. That's why you must plan ahead before you buy or build your enclosure.
When it comes to an iguana, bigger is most certainly better! Iguanas are large reptiles and they need ample space in order to thrive. Enclosures can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some seem to misinterpret what is needed by their iguana based solely on numbers. I am hoping to help clarify this within this section. Not all enclosures are created equally!
Iguanas Need Height
In their natural environment iguanas are prone to staying in the forest canopy overlooking everything from above. They do this because it makes them feel secure. In captivity they tend to desire the highest locations as well in our homes. This is why we need to build our enclosures as tall as possible or purchase the tallest enclosures that we can fit. An enclosure should be at least 6' tall or taller if you have the space!
Iguanas Need Depth
Many people seem to think that an enclosure that is 6' tall and 2 feet deep is adequate. Those people are mistaken. Your iguana should be able to turn its body completely around without touching itself at all. The absolute MINIMUM dimensions an iguana enclosure should have is 4' deep. In all actuality it should be at least 6' deep if it is going to be the iguanas primary enclosure. (Which means your iguana will not be a free roamer.)
Iguanas Need Width
Just like the depth above, iguanas need width and an enclosure shouldn't be any smaller than 4' wide. Again, if this enclosure is going to be the iguanas primary enclosure you should aim at making it as wide as possible with 6' being the smallest. You do want to provide the best for your iguana, right?
The best enclosure is the one that uses every inch that you can provide. If you have the ability to, a bedroom can make for a wonderful enclosure. Most of us are not that fortunate so we resort to either building or buying an enclosure. Both you and your iguana will be happiest when you provide him or her with the largest enclosure possible.
To recap, the absolute smallest enclosure you should provide for your iguana is one that is 6' tall x 4' wide x 4' deep. An enclosure this size would be adequate for most large iguanas who get ample "outside" time from their enclosure. (Meaning they get plenty of exercise when you allow them to free roam, daily.)
An iguana that is going to be in its enclosure almost all of the time should have an enclosure that is 6' tall x 6'wide x 6' deep. This is a very "room sized" enclosure. If possible you should try to provide an enclosure that is even larger!
The substrate you choose can simply or complicate how easy your enclosure is to clean and maintain. certain substrates should be avoided entirely as they pose health risks to your iguana. This section required its own page to explain and discuss. You can find the substrates page here: Iguana Enclosure Substrates
The highest point in the enclosure is typically referred to as the basking spot. The iguana will most likely spend most of their time here if it meets the iguanas needs. This location is where you focus the UVB lighting and supplemental heat. The iguana will "bask" under the light and heat, absorbing the UVB and heat this location provides. The basking platform can be artificial wood, a shelf, etc. It simply needs to be large enough for the iguana to lay itself out comfortably and should be where additional heat and UVB access is located.
Foliage - Hides
Iguanas like to feel secure in their enclosure. Offering some live or artificial plants surrounding the basking area will offer your iguana security and peace of mind while it basks. Some iguanas, primarily smaller ones, will even utilize hide boxes if they are offered. The design of the enclosure should try to incorporate a means of added security for your iguana in the form of foliage or hides.
CBD Commercial Enclosure
There are contractors and companies that sell and build large enclosures. Some of these commercial designs are great and others try to get you to buy the smallest requested dimensions for your iguana. If your pockets are deep enough then a few google searches should yield you some results for "Iguana Enclosures". Please keep in mind when purchasing a commercial enclosure that you aren't looking for something based on aesthetics. Functionality is what you want to spend your money on!
An outdoor enclosure is a great way to provide natural access to the suns rays. Information on outdoor enclosures can be found here, Outdoor Iguana Enclosures.
Author: Richard Brooks