Baby Green Iguanas

The Common Green Iguana is quite the swimmer. They are known to hang in branches over rivers and streams in their native habitat and drop some substantial distances into the water to escape predators. Their number one predator is man.

The majority of Iguanas in captivity come from ranches in El Salvador (Central America) where the baby Iguana are raised straight out of the eggs to a size suitable for sale. It is the acquisition of the eggs that upsets me.

El Salvadoran gatherers identify and kill gravid females in the canopy. The eggs that survive the female's fall to the forest floor are harvested and then buried in the sand at the ranch. The hatchlings we see in the pet trade are all essentially orphans of dead female Iguanas. It is hard to understand how the business supports itself, with that kind of expoitation of the parent resources.

Well, all that aside, we have one here in captivity and it's time to consider the best ways to keep it alive.

BIOLOGY:

The Iguana is a poikilotherm, that is, cold blooded, and relies on the heat from its environment to support activities such as digestion, and movement.

The Iguana needs temperatures of approximately 78 degrees (or better) for ideal health. Air temperatures must also be this way, as simply using a heat rock in a cold room is inadequate.

Iguanas relish a water bowl to take a bath, but the water should be 78 degrees as well. A submersible heater may do this, or simply keeping air temperatures up will result in a warm-enough water bowl.

Getting Iguanas to eat is easy, but feeding them enough, and of the right stuff is the challenge.

DIET RECIPE:

Mix grated Carrot, Apples, and Yams with chopped Broccolli, Yellow Squash, Grapes, and Boiled Egg. Don't leave anything out.

Freeze this admixture in ice cube trays for individual daily servings Cover the trays with aluminum foil to minimize freezer burn, and remember to thaw the stuff in warm water, not the microwave. Mix up the thawed cube and then sprinkle a powdered vitamin with calcium on it, and feed. It is not a bad idea to offer a cricket or mealworm now and then alongside the diet described.

Lately there's been a good deal of research on Iguana nutrition and several companies have gone to market with excellent low protein dry pellets and canned foods that meet the Iguana's nutritional requirements more easily than cooking for them!

If an Iguana eats well but fails to gain weight, it should be checked for worms by a veterinarian. It is important that baby Iguanas get to eat some droppings from a larger, well-doing Iguana. There are microbes in the stools of the older ones that aid digestion in the smaller ones. It is a sort of digestive initiation, however grotesque it may be.

Finally, full spectrum lighting is essential to Iguanas health, as it is only the UV radiation that activates essential vitamins (D) in the skin. These vitamins then assist the absorption of Calcium from the diet, and without the vitamin activation in the skin, Calcium disorders result. The Vita Lite® bulbs and the Coralife TriChromatic Bulbs are adequate in this application.

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