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Spiny-tailed Iguana

Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura spp.) Care Sheet

Taxonomy
(Ctenosaura spp.)

  • Kingdom:
  • Animalia
  • Phylum:
  • Chordata
  • Class:
  • Reptilia
  • Order:
  • Squamata
  • Family:
  • Iguanidae
  • Genus:
  • Ctenosaura
  • Species:
  • spp.

Spiny-tailed Iguana
(Ctenosaura spp.)

Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura spp.)

Life Span

The life span of spiny-tailed iguanas ranges from 15-25+ years when cared for and housed properly.

Size

Of the species depicted in our species chart, the Yucatan spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura defensor) comes in the smallest at roughly 10 inches whereas Ctenosaura similis, commonly known as the black spiny-tailed iguana, can ascertain lengths of 5 feet.

Ctenosaura similis

Spiny-tailed Iguanas

The Spiny-Tailed Iguanas are composed of the following species: Ctenosaura acanthura, Ctenosaura alfredschmidti, Ctenosaura bakeri, Ctenosaura clarki, Ctenosaura conspicuosa, defensor, Ctenosaura flavidorsalis, Ctenosaura hemilopha, Ctenosaura macrolopha, Ctenosaura melanosterna, Ctenosaura nolascensis, Ctenosaura oaxacana, Ctenosaura oedirhina, Ctenosaura palearis, Ctenosaura pectinata, Ctenosaura praeocularis, Ctenosaura quinquecarinata, and Ctenosaura similis.

Spiny-tailed Iguanas

  • Ctenosaura acanthura
  • Northeastern Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: 4.5 feet
  • Authority: Shaw, 1802
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  • Ctenosaura alfredschmidti
  • Campeche Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: -----
  • Authority: Köhler, 1995
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  • Ctenosaura bakeri
  • Bakers Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: 2.5 feet
  • Authority: Stejneger, 1901
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  • Ctenosaura clarki
  • Balsas Armed Lizard
  • Size: 11 inches
  • Authority: Bailey, 1928
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  • Ctenosaura conspicuosa
  • San Esteban Iguana
  • Size: 2.0 feet
  • Authority: Grismer, 1999
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  •  
  • Ctenosaura defensor
  • Yucatán Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: 10 inches
  • Authority: Cope, 1866
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  • Ctenosaura flavidorsalis
  • Yellowback Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: -----
  • Authority: Köhler & Klemmer, 1994
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  • Ctenosaura hemilopha
  • Cape Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: 3.5 feet
  • Authority: Cope, 1863
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  •  
  • Ctenosaura macrolopha
  • Sonora Black Iguana
  • Size: 2.5 feet
  • Authority: Grismer, 1999
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  • Ctenosaura melanosterna
  • Black-Chested Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: 3 feet
  • Authority: Buckley & Axtell, 1997
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  • Ctenosaura nolascensis
  • San Pedro Nolasco Iguana
  • Size: 3 feet
  • Authority: Grismer, 1999
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  • Ctenosaura oaxacana
  • Oaxacan Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: -----
  • Authority: Köhler & Hasbun, 2001
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  • Ctenosaura oedirhina
  • Roatán Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: 14 inches
  • Authority: de Queiroz, 1987
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  • Ctenosaura palearis
  • Guatemalan spinytail Iguana
  • Size: 2 feet
  • Authority: Stejneger, 1899
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  • Ctenosaura pectinata
  • Mexican Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: 4.5 feet
  • Authority: Wiegmann, 1834
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  • Ctenosaura praeocularis
  • Honduran Club Tail Iguana
  • Size: -----
  • Authority: Hasbún & Köhler, 2009
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  • Ctenosaura quinquecarinata
  • Club Tail Iguana
  • Size: 14 inches
  • Authority: Gray, 1842
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  •  
  • Ctenosaura similis
  • Black Spinytail Iguana
  • Size: 5.5 feet
  • Authority: Gray, 1831
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  •  

Lighting - Heating

Spiny-tailed iguanas love to bask under the unfiltered sun and outdoor enclosures are great for them when possible. Indoor enclosures require access to UVB via artificial lighting that covers roughly 2/3 of the enclosures length. Mercury vapors currently produce the highest UVB output of lighting on the market. UV flourescent tubes require the animal to get within 10 inches of the tubes surface for optimal exposure. Full spectrum lighting, such as halogen flood lamps, are a great way to provide a proper photoperiod as well as heat. The ambient temperature in the enclosure should be between 80° and 85° Fahrenheit with basking areas reaching 95° to 105°.

Housing

The size of your enclosure is going to be determined by the size of the species you are keeping. Since spiny-tailed iguanas range from 10 inches - 5.5 feet in length, the size of the enclosure will need to accommodate the size of the animal.
As with every species, bigger enclosures are better enclosures. The boundaries they have in the wild are incomparable to what we enclose them in within captivity. Go big or buy a bearded dragon instead.
The enclosure dimensions below are "minimum" suggested enclosure sizes. You should try and provide the absolute largest enclosure you can that meets or exceeds the dimensions below for the species you keep.

1. Smaller spiny-tailed iguanas measuring less than 18 inches svl, can be housed in an enclosure measuring 3 feet long by 2 feet wide by 2 feet tall.
2. Medium sized spiny-tailed iguanas, measuring 18 inches - 3.5 feet svl, can be housed in an enclosure measuring 4 feet long by 2.5 feet wide by 2 feet tall.
3. Larger spiny-tailed iguanas, measuring 3.5 feet+ svl, can be housed in an enclosure measuring 6 feet long by 4 feet wide by 5 feet tall.

Diet

Spiny-tailed iguanas are primarily herbivores as adults but are often omnivores as babies and juveniles, ingesting insects and other easily acquired animal protein.
A balanced diet of mixed greens and shaved-chopped vegetables will suit your iguana well. We offer nutritional data on Fruits, Vegetables and Mixed Greens that would be ideal for feeding to your spiny-tail iguana. In addition we also offer an Edible - Safe Plant List.
Baby and juvenile spiny-tailed iguanas can be fed a variety of feeder insects and invertebrates. Crickets, mealworms, super worms, waxworms, hornworms, silkworms and butter worms can all be offered, in addition to the salad. Some juveniles will readily consume pinky mice.
Calcium and vitamin supplements should be provided three days a week. Gravid females should receive supplemental calcium every day or every other day for those feeling conservative.

Availability

Spiny-tail iguanas have become more popular over recent years and can be ordered online and purchased at reptile shows. Some specialty reptile shops can aquire varying species upon request. Occasionally the big box pet stores will carry a Ctenosaura.

Attribution

Author: Richard Brooks
Spiny-tailed Main - © Daniel Ariano [CC-BY-SA-3.0]