Iguanas belong to the same family as lizards do. They are cold-blooded creatures and, just like other reptiles, their body temperature adapts to the temperature of their surroundings. This is why iguanas have an impressive capability to thrive and survive long in their environment.
The most basic and distinct features of iguanas are their very long tails that move like whips, their triple eyelids, their spread-out legs, their huge mouths and sharp teeth. There are different classes or genus of iguanas. Each class may differ in behavior, color, and size from one another. Some have vivid colors, while some look dull. Some are recognized for their loose skin, while others are known for having a raised apex. But regardless of genus, iguanas generally live for 15 to 20 years, if raised and bred in captivity.
Iguanas have their unique ways of adapting to their habitat. Marine iguanas, being excellent swimmers, can feed in the sea and swim to a chosen spot where they can bask in the sun. Green iguanas, which usually stay in rain forests, thrive by feeding on the readily available leaves, fruits, and flowers. Desert iguanas have the skill to adjust and survive long in hot, dry deserts.
Nowadays, iguanas are sold in and can easily be bought from pet shops since they have become quite popular for being an interesting pet. However, it is quite challenging to keep and raise iguanas especially when it comes to taming them. Unlike dogs or cats, iguanas are not your typical domesticated pets. It may take a while before they become accustomed to a domestic environment and to calm down. Even if they may have been kept and raised in captivity, iguanas still have the protective instinct they naturally developed while living in the wild.
This is also why it is very important to make sure that the iguanas are calm and comfortable before handling them. Iguanas can sometimes be aggressive and territorial creatures. To tame them, it requires a lot of patience. It would be best to try to handle them a few times each day so that the both of you become used to each other. When approaching them to pick them up, do not loom over them and grab them – they may perceive you as a predator and act defensively.
Remember, these animals have conditioned reactions after having lived in their natural environment. So, when trying to handle them, gently place your hand instead to their eye level and go closer to them carefully. Do not make any sudden movements. It may help to look at pictures and images of iguanas being handled and use them as a guide in handling your own. Gentle and soft talking while moving closer to them may also create an atmosphere of calmness and trust. Approaching your iguanas this way on a daily basis will eventually build trust and the idea that you mean them no harm. Taking the time to practice this everyday will gradually tame them.
Remember also to observe and understand their body language when trying to interact with them. Certain actions like bobbing the head and flicking the tail, and the time when they do those actions should give you an idea of how they feel or how they seem to perceive you.
Many people argue about what food would be best to feed iguanas with. Iguanas are herbivorous animals. They eat plants, flowers, and fruits. Feeding them with other kinds of food may result to their illness, or even death. Iguanas are purely vegetarian.
There are books and other sources that say iguanas can be given foods based on animal protein, but it is best to stick to what they naturally consume. However, it is recommended to give them a diet that used varied types of natural foods. Even if they only eat vegetables, different types should be fed to them so that they are nourished with different kinds of vitamins and nutrients.
Iguanas use their sharp teeth to tear at their food into smaller pieces instead of chewing it in their mouth. In view of this, it is best to chop the food carefully after washing and before giving it to your iguana. Also, it is essential for iguanas to have healthy and strong bones and teeth. Nourishing them with fresh food that is rich in calcium as well as phosphorous is excellent for your iguana’s health. Clean water should also be easily available to them at all times. As for their meals, at least two servings of vegetables are recommended.
The amount of food in each serving depends on the size of your pet and its appetite. It is best to leave them enough food that will keep them nourished whole day. At night, leave them another serving that can last until the next morning. To ensure a variety of food, you may check out food charts and tables as a reference.
On top of the basic knowledge, you now have about iguanas, reading up about them some more should help you know more about how to tame, train, handle and properly feed them. The more you know about iguanas, the better care you can give them, and the longer their lives will be.