Beautiful blue, green and orange male green iguana.
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Falling in Love with Green Iguanas

A Guide to Caring for These Majestic Reptiles


Green iguanas (Iguana iguana) are captivating creatures that have captured the hearts of reptile enthusiasts around the world. Their vibrant colors, impressive size and unique behaviors make them stand out among other reptiles. However, their popularity as pets has fluctuated over the years, and they’ve faced challenges due to misconceptions and inadequate care. In this blog, we’ll explore their world, dispel myths and provide essential information for anyone considering these majestic reptiles as companions.

The Rise and Fall of Green Iguanas

They were once hailed as the top reptile pet in the United States. Their striking appearance, from emerald green scales to expressive eyes, made them irresistible to pet owners. However, their reign was eventually overshadowed by the bearded dragon, which gained popularity due to its docile nature and manageable size. Despite this shift, green iguanas remain captivating and deserve proper care.

Understanding Their Diet

Green iguanas are herbivores, and their diet plays a crucial role in their overall health. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Leafy Greens: Offer a variety of leafy greens such as collard greens, mustard greens and kale. These provide essential nutrients and fiber.
  • Fruits: Treat your iguana to fruits like papaya, mango and strawberries. Remember moderation—too much fruit can lead to health issues.
  • Avoid Animal Protein: Unlike some reptiles, green iguanas do not need animal protein. Do not feed them insects or meat-based foods.

Creating the Perfect Habitat

A well-designed habitat ensures your green iguana thrives:

  • Enclosure Size: Green iguanas grow large—up to six feet in length! Provide a spacious enclosure with branches for climbing.
  • Temperature and Humidity: Maintain a basking spot of around 95°F (35°C) and a cooler area around 80°F (27°C). Humidity should be 60-70%.
  • UVB Lighting: Install full-spectrum UVB lighting to support their calcium metabolism and overall health. UVB lightbulbs need to be changed regularly to give your pet the sunlight it requires.
Outdoor cat enclosure can work perfectly for an adult iguana.
Outdoor Cat Enclosure Is a Good Size for an Adult Iguana

Temperature Matters

Green iguanas are cold-blooded, relying on external heat sources. Proper temperature regulation is essential:

  • Basking Spot: Create a warm basking spot using heat lamps or ceramic heaters.
  • Nighttime Drop: Allow nighttime temperatures to drop slightly to mimic their natural environment.

Lifespan and Care Commitment

With proper care, green iguanas can live up to 15-20 years or more. Commitment is key:

  • Regular Veterinary Visits: Schedule check-ups with a reptile-savvy veterinarian.
  • Social Interaction: While not cuddly, green iguanas appreciate gentle handling and interaction.

Male Iguanas with Female Owners

Aggressive male green iguana with its mouth wide open.
Aggressive male green iguana.

Green iguanas don’t have gender-specific preferences, but male green iguanas will show aggression to men who have come into “their female’s” territory. Free-roaming iguanas are especially aggressive with men when the female iguana owner is menstruating. Iguanas can sense pheromones and react to them.

When male iguanas enter into their breeding season, they can be aggressive (what they consider flirting!) with their female owners. It is especially true if the female is menstruating. This breeding season can last four to six weeks. During this time feeding and cage-cleaning can be a challenge, so watch out! This can happen with the most tame male iguanas.

Male iguanas with male owners don’t usually experience this problem.


Falling in love with green iguanas means embracing their quirks, respecting their needs and providing a safe and enriching environment. With patience and dedication, you’ll discover the joy of sharing your life with these majestic reptiles.

Owning a green iguana is a long-term commitment, but the rewards are immeasurable.

Cover of "Green Iguana: The Ultimate Owner's Manual"

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