THE GREEN IGUANA or Iguana iguana is a diurnal (active during daylight hours) lizard that lives in a tropical rainforest climate and habitat. Iguanas are found in Central and South America and in countries as far away as Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Daily life consists of finding a sunny spot to bask in, eating, and avoiding predators.
A young iguana is a bright green color which helps to camouflage its body within the bright green leaves of the lower canopy of the rainforest. Quick movements and excellent eyesight help the young iguana avoid capture.
As the iguana grows and matures, it loses its bright green color and becomes a more muted green.
The larger iguana prefers a different habitat…the higher, less dense, less humid environs of the upper canopy. Being ectothermic or often referred to as “cold-blooded”, the iguana (an ectopoikilotherm) must heat its body to a high temperature daily. In the morning, the iguana ventures into the sunlight to take in the sun’s warmth.
Besides heat, the sun also provides valuable UV rays which help the iguana sythesize Vitamin D3 and absorb other essential nutrients from its mostly vegetarian diet. Remember that Vitamin D3, which is critical in maintaining proper growth and health, is very hard to supplement in powdered form.
The results of over-supplementing Vitamin D3 are disastrous to the health of an iguana…but…when you put an iguana in the sun, that Vitamin D is properly synthesized and utilized to its full benefit.
The sun provides the iguana with another important service. The heat from the sun activates bacteria in the iguana’s hind gut and the bacteria begins to consume the fibrous vegetable matter, thereby helping the iguana digest it’s previously eaten meal. Once heated, the iguana can move more quickly and spends a good part of the rest of the day foraging for leaves, tender shoots, and fruit.
Later in the day, the iguana will bask again and perhaps go for a quick swim in a nearby river, before returning to it’s protected resting spot high in the trees.
As iguana owners, it is our responsibility to try and recreate the rainforest environment for our pets. We took them out of that humid, tropical place and put them in an artificial environment.
When you design the home for your pet, make it as close to nature as possible and make sure that your iguana gets plenty of time in the REAL sun! Read this site THOROUGHLY and especially read the REQUIREMENTS list.