Caring for Green Iguanas

This reptile is one of the most unusual pet that any animal keeper may choose to have. Many have found the peculiar characteristics of these reptiles to be so amusing that they would rather have them as pets than just watch them on tv or anywhere else they may be found.

Iguanas are herbivorous reptiles and are native to tropical areas such as South and Central America, Mexico, as well as the Carribean. About 30 species of the larger lizard family is already known. Of these, the common or the green iguana is the best-known species. The green iguana is usually from Mexico southward to Brazil.

Biological features

Iguanas are considered the largest lizards found in America. They can vary in size depending on the species. On average, they can grow to a length of about 6 to 6.5 feet and weigh about 11 pounds. The longest known iguana is reported to be about 7 feet and was found basking on the bank of a creek on Taveuni in Fiji.

Green iguanas are characterized by their dark bands forming rings on their tails. The females are grayish green and are about half the weight of their male counterpart. Iguanas are said to possess atrophied venom glands that produce a weak harmless venom. Even then, their bites can cause some serious injuries, so if you are planning to keep one as a pet you should know how to train it well. You should also be aware of the signals that they send especially when they are becoming agitated or snappy.

Form of communication between green iguanas

One interesting thing about these green iguanas is that they use non-verbal communication like head bobbing and moving the flap of skin under their necks (dewlaps). They extend their dewlaps to ascertain territoriality as well as when courting a female green iguana. Head bobbing, on the other hand, may signal recognition of another iguana or its level of agitation. The more intense its emotion the more rigorous the head bobbing will be.

Look out for any sign of aggression such as standing on all fours, drawing in a deep breath so as to appear larger, and lowering its dewlap (the skin flap under its chin). Be ready whenever it happens. If you are able to provide it with the basic needs, you definitely won’t need to worry about this happening, however.

The average lifespan of this generally docile reptile is about 20 years, so if you are planning to have it as a pet, you will surely have a lot of memories to share long before your iguana expires. To keep them healthy and safe, you need to know how to better provide their basic requirements. Read on to find some useful tips on how to do this.

Enclosure

Although a green iguana may be placed inside an aquarium, they will soon grow to be too large for this housing. They usually need a lot of space as they love roaming around, even climbing. For this reason, you may need to build a penned-off space for the reptile. A small room where the temperature, humidity, and ultraviolet (UV) light exposure can be controlled will also be a great alternative. The enclosure should also be twice its length and about six feet or more as these lizards love climbing around. Like other reptiles, such as a bearded dragon, a male green iguana is territorial, hence should not be kept together with another male iguana.

Unless you can certain that you can provide the right facilities for an adult green iguana, you should NEVER consider purchasing one to keep as a pet.

Heat, lighting, and humidity

Green iguanas like it hot and sticky. Your pet will definitely need a good basking area where the temperature is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. As it is a cool-blooded ectotherm, it will need this sweet spot to help it regulate its temperature for its body systems to function properly. As its body temp may eventually get too hot, it will also need a cooler place to cool down. Therefore, as you build its enclosure, you need to make sure to include cooler zones with temperatures that won’t fall below the mid-70s. A combination of ceramic bulbs or mercury vapor bulbs that provide both heat and UV light will do the trick. Just make sure to replace the bulbs whenever they need to be replaced. You will also need to have thermometers installed at each end of the enclosure which you will use to monitor the temperatures within the enclosure from time to time.

Your pet iguana will also need proper humidity to stay hydrated (that will be about 60 to 70 percent). To provide your reptile enough water, you will need to place a shallow dish where it can sip fresh water from time to time. They will also need to be misted and soaked in the water several times a week (especially during the hot season) to ensure that they won’t get dehydrated.

Food and diet for green iguanas

The natural dietary requirements of your green iguana can easily be met with natural foods that you can buy in the supermarket and also online. Commercially prepared iguana foods are as nutritious as their raw natural counterparts. They will go crazy over veggies. Collard greens, dandelions, yellow squash, turnip greens, whole green beans, and other vegetables are excellent food for your pet iguana.

You may also offer fruit once a week. Giving your pet green iguana more fruit than necessary may cause diarrhea. It is essential that you provide your pet lizard with a varied vegetarian diet to ensure the proper balance of calcium to phosphorus, which is vital to your pet’s health.

Additionally, you can serve your pet with commercially made foods from brands such as Zoo Med, Mazuri, Rep-Cal, and others that offer nutritious foods that your pet will love to munch.

You may also need to provide supplements, such as a calcium supplement to ensure that your iguana won’t develop any health issues like the metabolic bone disease.

Caring for your pet iguana should be easy as long as you have trained it well while it is young. If you notice anything unusual with your pet, however, do not hesitate to call a certified vet to provide a thorough analysis of your pet green iguana.

Ball Python Care Sheet

Ball pythons are one of the most popular snakes kept as a pet mainly because of its docile personality and easy handling and maintenance requirements. Many find keeping them to be a rewarding experience as a whole.

Where can you get ball pythons to rear or breed?

These generally docile reptiles are quite easy to acquire. You will probably find one that you would like to keep from pet stores, reptile breeders, reptile expos, and even through online sellers and breeders.

Biological facts about Ball Pythons

A ball python is also known as the Royal Python. They got their name from their unusual habit. You will notice them coiling themselves up into a tight ball around their head when they get nervous or upset. Another interesting fact about this exotic animal is that they are nocturnal. They prefer to hunt at night. During the day, they rest in underground burrows.

Size

Hatchlings of ball pythons are about 10 inches in length. An adult female ball python can grow to an average length of about 3 to 5 feet long. However, an adult male ball python can only grow to up to an average of 2 to 3 feet. Although the average length of the biggest ball python is 5 feet, there have been reports indicating that this snake can grow to a length of about 6 feet or more.

Life Span

If you plan to keep a ball python as a pet, you should be surprised to know that with proper care and handling, this reptile can live up to 30 years or even more. Records indicate that there are ball pythons that have reached more than 40 years. In fact, the oldest known ball python lived to about 48 years old before it died.

With a lifespan like that, you know you should be ready and totally aware of how to care for your ball python. It is critically vital to have your snake’s enclosure complete and ready before bringing it home. This can help the snake to quickly and easily acclimate itself to its new habitat without endangering its health.

Proper housing for a ball python

You have a couple of option when it comes to your snake’s enclosure. The most popular option is to set up a terrarium for the ball python. The second option, which is also a common practice by breeders, is to enclose the snake in a rack system.

When deciding for the appropriate housing for your pet snake, it is important that you keep the size of its enclosure to only one and half times the length the ball python. It should not be less than two-thirds of its length.

Heating and lighting for ball pythons

Ball pythons like most reptiles are cold-blooded. As a responsible snake owner needs to know how to provide a healthy range of temperatures in their new habitat. This way, the snake can self-adjust its own heat requirements.

Make sure that the warm side of your pet’s enclosure has to be set between 87 – 90 F. The cool side, however, should be about 77 – 80 F. Installing thermometers at each end of your pet’s cage will help you monitor the exact temperatures in the enclosure at all times.

As for lighting, your ball python will actually not need special lighting. It will just be fine with the natural photocycle of inside your home.

Humidity

Ball pythons’ humidity needs to be set so that it will not be lower than anything between 55% – 60%. You will need a hygrometer set up in your snake’s enclosure to have an accurate measurement of the humidity inside its enclosure.

Increasing or decreasing the size of your pet’s water bowl will help you change the humidity within your pet’s cage. This is also true when you increase and decrease the amount of ventilation that your snake’s enclosure receives. There is really no need to mist your ball python to maintain your pet’s humidity.

Substrate

When it comes to the substrate for your pet snake, you won’t have any difficulty as this reptile is normally clean and about any type of bedding or substrate will just be fine for your pet. The most popular bedding, however, would be aspen shavings. But you can also use pieces of paper or newspaper as a bedding for your pet snake.

Note, however, one of the possible substrates that you can think of to use for your ball python, a cedar will NOT be appropriate for your pet as it is toxic to all snakes.

Hides

Ball pythons naturally seek dark and secure places to spend most of their time like most snakes. This means that you will need to provide the right amount of hides for your pet. If not, they will feel stress and give you feeding problems. You can place hides on both the warm or cool sides of the enclosure.

Water

Your pet snake will need water from time to time. Make sure there is always fresh water in their enclosure. It is best to change the water every 3 or 4 days. However, if the water gets dirty beforehand, you need to change it immediately.

Shedding

Your snake is designed to shed at regular times. You will spot if it is already their time to shed. Here are your cues: the stomach turning pinkish, then its skin will begin to look duller, and finally, its eyes will become milky and look opaque. This stage won’t last long and their eyes will eventually will clear up within the next 36 hours and then your pet will begin to shed.

Note that the shedding time will be about every 4 – 6 weeks, depending on your pet’s age. During this time, your pet will normally not have any problem shedding off its skin. However, if it does just soak your pet in a bowl of water until its old skin has completely shed off. You will still need to check the tip of its tail and the eye caps to see if there are no trace of old skin on these usual problem spots.

Feeding

Unlike mammals, ball pythons do not usually feed on demand. They can also go without food for weeks or months and still remain good. That is especially true if and when you have been providing the right environmental condition for your pet. In this case, your pet may just be doing what ball pythons usually do: binge, feeding, and fasting.

In general, however, ball pythons can feed on mice their whole lives. If you want to provide optimum nutrition, you need to provide them with rats as soon as possible instead. Feed your pet on a weekly basis and an appropriately sized meal each week.

As your pet ball python gets older, you may need to feed it frozen-thawed food. Note that older rodents will have more developed teeth and can cause serious health problems or damage to your snake.

Cleaning

Even though your pet snake is normally clean, you will still need to do spot cleaning of its cage at least once a week. A thorough cleaning is also necessary once each month. That includes changing the substrate as well. Clean and sanitize the cage thoroughly to ensure that your pet and its cage will be free from disease-causing microorganisms growing in them.

Lastly, proper handling of your pet should be only when your pet is quite docile and is not snappy or agitated. However, you need to make sure that you regularly handle your pet as a way to train it is handled.