How to set up a terrarium for iguanas

Iguanas are inhabitants of evergreen humid rainforests.

If you decide to have this exotic lizard at home, it needs to create familiar climatic conditions in the terrarium and maintain them regardless of the season.

Optimal Terrarium Size

The terrarium should be appropriate for the size of the iguana. It can be purchased or made by your own hands.

The size of the “apartment” depends on the age of its inhabitant. A small iguana doesn’t need a house that “grows out”: it will feel uncomfortable and uncomfortable. This is fraught with stress and loss of appetite. Keep the young one in a small terrarium, and when it matures – in a year and a half – you can think about expanding its living space.

If you buy a ready-made tank, then for the initial dwelling of the iguana 150-200 liters of the aquarium will be quite sufficient. An adult lizard should be settled in a 400-500-liter tank.

Those who decide to do the terrarium with their own hands can focus on the following dimensions: 50cm (length) x 100cm (height) x 50cm (width) – for the reptile up to a year and a half; 170 x 170 x 80cm – for the pet older.

Glass, plexiglass, or plywood can serve as building materials. In the latter case, the walls should be covered inside with plastic or cork panels to maintain the necessary level of humidity. All seams must be carefully sealed.

What kind of filler to choose?

Mats made of artificial turf are an excellent filler for the terrarium.

The substrate must be hygroscopic, safe for the iguana’s health, and not difficult to clean. Artificial turf mats for example fulfill these requirements. The main thing is to anchor them securely to the floor and to monitor the condition of the edges. If they become loose, the individual fibers may wrap around the iguana’s paw or tail, pulling them over and causing necrosis. It’s best to have a couple of mats at once: while one is drying after washing, you can lay the other.

Another option for filler is pelleted bark. The main requirement is that the pellets must be large to avoid being eaten by the pet. Because of lizards’ taste for everything surrounding it, we don’t want to put earth, gravel, sand, chips, cat`s fillers on the terrarium floor.

Alfalfa feed for rabbits can play the role of ground. However, with all its merits it is short-lived: because of high humidity it quickly gets soaked, so you will have to change it often.

Paper – packaging or filter paper – is suitable only as a temporary filler. For example, during the quarantine period. It is better to refrain from using newspapers: the printing ink is harmful to the reptile’s health.

Source of ultraviolet

Iguanas need a lot of suns and a long daylight period

Iguanas need a lot of suns so that the body absorbs trace elements from the food and produces vitamin D3. In summer, the animal can be taken out on a glazed balcony. The rest of the year the lack of sunlight will have to make up for it with special lamps, which you can buy in pet stores. The daylight for iguanas must last at least 10-12 hours. Replace the lamps once a year because the intensity of the UV radiation decreases with time.

How to keep the iguana warm?

A regular light bulb will do for heating a terrarium with an iguana

Warmth is as important to the iguana as light. The average temperature in the terrarium should be between +28 and +37 degrees. A ceramic or mirror heater will help to keep it up. They are convenient because they do not disturb either the animal or the owner at night.

You can use artificial stones with built-in heating elements. However, it is better not to buy devices with thermoregulators: in case of the relay malfunctions, the reptile may get burned. If your house is hot enough, ordinary incandescent lamps can provide the necessary temperature in the terrarium. Install them so that the pet can’t reach them.

Humidity in the terrarium

It is a good idea to teach your iguana to drink

The humidity in the iguana’s house needs to be kept at 80%. A humidifier, specially designed for terrariums or a household one, will help. Furthermore, you can make a waterfall and a pool for the lizard to splash in from time to time.

Usually, reptiles prefer to lick condensate off the walls or leaves of plants. Also, try to accustom the animal to the drinker: it will become an additional source of moisture.

Interior decoration

In the wild, iguanas live in trees, so branches in the terrarium are a must

Iguanas spend most of their lives in trees, so branches should be added to the terrarium interior. They can be found in the garden, the nearest park or forest. It is best to choose branches of fruit trees or oak trees. Conifers are contraindicated for iguanas.

Branches before installation should be cleaned of old bark, washed and heated in an oven for a couple of hours at 100-110 degrees. So you rid the house and its inhabitant from uninvited guests: mites and other insects, as well as pathogenic microbes.

The branches should be properly fixed on the terrarium walls, so they can support the weight of the pet. Pay special attention to the joints. If there is even the slightest gap, the tip of an iguana’s tailor finger can get in there, resulting in injury.

From a couple or three small snags build a shelter for the reptile. Also, make several shelves at different heights. Do not polish them to a mirror shine: iguana can escape from there. Make the surface slightly rough, but without splinters.

You can also hang two or three thick ropes in the terrarium. The pet will be happy to climb them.

Terrarium decoration

Terrariums can be decorated with iguana-safe plants

Both live and artificial plants are used to decorate the iguana’s dwelling. The advantage of live plants is that they can serve not only as a shelter for the reptile but also as natural food. They also increase the humidity in the terrarium and improve its aeration.

Hibiscus, Scindapsus, Tradescantia are the most preferable. The main thing is to carefully cover the soil in which they grow to deprive the lizard of access to it.

When choosing artificial plants, make sure that they are made of non-toxic materials and do not have sharp elements on which the reptile can hurt itself.

Cleaning every day

The cleanliness of the terrarium needs to be carefully monitored. Residues of food, which rot quickly in conditions of heat and high humidity, as well as pet waste, are detrimental to the microclimate. Therefore, you should clean it daily. Wash once a week with baking soda. The iguana can be moved into the bathroom while you are busy tidying up.

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