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eggs food cages health pregnant iguanas tameness A good pet for your child? incubation


This is a page discussing what I know about Iguanas. What I know I have learned from owning them, as well as what I have read in books. Right now, my brother, Bill, and I own 4 of the little critters. Their names are; Zen-buddah, male, about 4.5 feet long; Icis, female, about 3 feet long; Inana, female, about 2.5 feet long; and Frank, male, about 2.5 feet long. We also used to have Stan, but she had just laid eggs when we moved once, and she had a broken back from before we got her, and the move killed her. That was a very sad day for me. Early this year (2000) Icis died as well. She had not been well for a long time. I think Zen misses her.
Update: Feb 2011. I no longer have any iggies.
Eggs

So far, we have had 2 of them lay eggs. The first one was Stan, and the eggs were good for about a month. Then one day when we came home, they were not good. We think that some kids came in and looked at the eggs and left the lid off, and it killed them. Inana has also laid some eggs, (41). Most of the eggs were not viable, and the ones that were fertalized eventually absorbed too much water and popped. We think this was because of the high humidity of the incubator, so we are going to make some changes to it. When I am done with the changes, I will post them here. From what I have read, they can lay from 30-80 eggs.
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Food

Even though most of the books I have read said that iguanas should not be given broccoli too much, it seems to be a favorite of all of them. If we have one that is not eating well, all we have to do is feed them some and they perk right up. We feed them fresh vegetables, like spinach, kale, broccoli, and what every else we see that they might like. Some of it, like melons and broccoli we cut up, but things like spinach we don't. We have also tried several varieties of dry foods, but they don't seem to like it much, and don't eat as well. So for now, we will stick with the fresh food for them. One other thing, we don't feed them any kinds of meat at all.
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Cages

For cages, we have 2 cages. One is 4"x2"x8" and the other one is 2"x2"x4". They like the bigger cage better, as it is built with screens that they can climb on. The smaller cage stays warmer, but they don't like it as much for some reason. We are planning on doing some modifications on it, to make it more iguana friendly.
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health

They are generally healthy animals, but so far we have had a bought with mites (little red ones). We took them to the vet and they received medicine, but that didn't do the trick. We finally went down to the gardening store and bought some stuff that is used to get rid of bugs on plants. We picked out some that was pet friendly. The iguanas were then dusted with this, as well as their cage, about once a week until no more mites were found. I know these mites can be a bit of a headache to get rid of, but this was the cheapest and most effective solution. Also, some how Icis broke her leg, so she got to wear a splint for 3 weeks. After the splint came off, she started gaining weight and doing much better.
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Pregnant Iguanas

How can you tell if your iguana is pregnant? The first sign is they will start eating less. This is tough to see if you Iguana is not in good, healthy condition. With ours, they went from eating 2 times a day to once a day to just nibbling. We keep water in the cage with them at all times, so that was not a problem. On the subject of water, I recommend keeping it in the cage with them. It is a little extra work keeping it clean, but I know that when I get thirsty, I want some and I figure they do, too. Also, their sides will be come lumpy if you feel them (gently of course). If you think you might have a pregnant iguana, you need to give them a place to lay eggs. The first time, I got a kitchen trash can with a lid, filled it up about half way with dirt, and taped the lid on with a hole for her to climb in and out of. If you have a bigger female, you will need to find something bigger for her to lie in. I used 50% sterilized potting soil and 50% peat moss, and I dampened it all. What ever you find to use, I recommend covering it, so she does not feel threatened while laying.
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Tameness

Most of our iguanas are pretty tame, except for Zen-budda. He goes from mildly spastic to a complete psycho. Right before his mate, Inana, laid eggs he was out on top of the big cage and my brother walked by and startled him. CHOMP!! Now Bill has a nice iguana sized bite mark scar on his arm. The others are nicer, but only Inana is really tame. I believe that is because Bill got her as a baby, and she has always been played with. Of the others, both of the males were given to me, and their previous had not taken very good care of them. I did not think that Zen-budda was going to live. He was very, very skinny and lethargic for about a week. We just gave him plenty of water, food and quite and came back though.
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A good pet for your child?

I would not recommend this pet for young children, as they (the iguanas) are not at all lovable. They also can cost a lot of money if you take care of them correctly. The bigger they get, the bigger of a cage that they need. Right now, I wish we had another cage, but we just simply don't have the room for one. When we get our house, we will build them a run, where they can get all of the fresh air and sunshine that they need. So far, between the cages and the incubator, we have spent easily $500 on them. A lot of that is from the lights and heaters that we have for them. They simply have to have a full spectrum light to do well. And they need a warm temperature, around 85 degrees, with a basking spot up to 98 degrees. Without this, their bodies do not digest food as quickly, and they grow slower and do worse. For heaters, we use a ceramic heating element that is placed so they can not crawl on it. They are not smart animals, and will burn themselves badly. We had hot rocks, but I don't like them much. In nature, they get their heat from the sun, not the ground and I think that they should also get it from above for best results.
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Incubation

For my incubator, I used 1/4" inch plywood for the shell and made the shelves out of 1/2" plywood. For a heat source, I used a large aquarium heater placed in a cat box filled with water. I also have a small fan that I bought from Radio Shack to circulate the air and humidity. About 1 gallon of water a day is evaporated out, so I built a catch basin to place under the incubator. All of the inside surfaces were painted with several coats of paint. After the current batch of eggs hatch, I am going to use fiberglass to make a better, bigger water storage unit for the heater to go into. This will help the water evaporation, as the condensate will run back into it, and not out of the incubator as it does now. We also had to use styrofoam insulation on the outside of it to keep the heat up. I also keep a piece of plastic wrapped around the top, as I need to seal the doors in a better way and have a lot of heat/humidity loss from the top of door. Below, you can see plans for the incubator. The incubator is big enough to hold around 200 eggs. You can also buy commercial incubators if you are not handy with tools.
We are now on the third try with the incubator. We have added 2 fans for air circulation, as well as adding a ceramic heater to try to control the humidity. Instead of the cat-litter box, we put in some plastic to make a basin at the bottom. We then wrapped the entire thing in styrofoam insulation. The initial tests worked well, as it maintained what ever heat and humidity we wanted for it, and quickly regained the settings after opening the door.
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In the future, I will have pictures of all of them, as well as their cages. So check back from time to time.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.

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