13 Intriguing Facts About Iguanas

Iguanas are interesting creatures that thrive in their natural habitat. Lots of kids take an interest adopting these lizards as pets. Unlike goldfish, hamsters, and other small housemates, iguanas are much more complicated animals. Before taking the step toward purchasing a new critter, consider learning everything possible about their behaviors, environment, reproduction, and socialization.


Iguana Facts for Kids

Kids who are fascinated with these long-bodied lizards will be interested in learning everything about iguanas. These popular pets can live for a very long time when cared for properly at home. They are better suited for older children who are responsible enough to handle them properly and take care of their needs. Here are some interesting facts kids will want to know before deciding to adopt a miniature reptilian pet. Be sure to read iguana books for even more information about the behavior, diet, and habitat these intriguing creatures.

Taking on a reptilian pet may seem like a fairly easy task, especially when comparing the care associated with animals that roam free around the house. While they are fascinating reptiles to observe, with physical features that resemble dragons, they come with a much higher cost and responsibility than other caged pets. Unfortunately, many owners learn too late that the responsibilities are greater and more costly than expected. It is important to do a lot of research before bringing a small reptile into the home. Remember, these animals are not meant to be domesticated, so there are very specific conditions that must be met in order for them to live long and healthy lives. Here are some of the most important facts about iguanas to understand before adopting one as a pet.

(1) Iguanas know their owners.

Although these lizards do not offer the same level of companionship and recognition as other types of pets, they absolutely do respond to their caretakers. Iguanas have keen vision and an uncanny ability to recognize sounds. While they will not respond to someone calling to them, iguanas can distinguish between different voices.

(2) Sometimes they lose their tails.

This is a survival tactic when snagged by predators in the wild. The muscles between the vertebrae allow for a clean break of the tail, which often grows back if the iguana is healthy. Pets make snap off their tail if it somehow gets caught on something or prevents them from moving freely. It may be worth having a veterinarian examine the pet to make sure medical intervention is not required.

(3) Iguanas require high temperatures to survive.

These reptiles are ectotherms, meaning that their body temperature is dependent on the surrounding environment. The ideal range is mid-70s to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Pet owners will want to be sure the glass enclosures are fitted with ceramic or mercury bulbs to provide sufficient heat. When the temperature is too low, immune systems will fail and metabolism will slow to dangerous levels.

(4) Iguanas frequently shed their skin.

Multiple times every year, iguanas will go through a process of eliminating their outer skin layer. When this occurs, the skin will turn dull and iguanas will often rub up against nearby objects to help scrape it off. If you notice a pet iguana sitting still with its eyes squeezed shut, take note of its body. It will likely look a bit puffier as this also helps it shed its skin.

(5) Iguanas are herbivores.

Animal proteins are extremely harmful for an iguana's kidneys, so meat should not be incorporated into the diet. To keep a pet healthy, dark leafy greens are recommended. Iguanas also can benefit from other vegetables like snap peas, peppers, carrots, and squash.

(6) Iguanas live from 8 to 20 years depending on their habitat.

Like any other living being, there are many different factors that affect the lifespan of iguanas. The general consensus is that iguanas typically survive an average of 8 years living in the wild. Predators post the biggest threat to hatchlings, babies, and sometimes full grown iguanas. Raccoons, hawks, owls, and even cats and dogs are just a few of the many animals that kill small iguanas. Larger ones are often eaten by alligators, jaguars, boa constrictors, pumas, and other large predatory animals. When iguanas live in captivity, for example a zoo or a home, their life expectancy greatly depends on the quality of care. Although rare, some have reportedly lived to the ripe old age of 20. However, most succumb to kidney disease or other ailments around 9 years of age. Some of the most common reasons for their early demise are improper nutrition, inadequate climate control, and insufficient living space.

(7) Iguanas have 3 eyes.

A pretty interesting fact about iguanas that most people may not know is the presence of a third eye on the top of their heads. This eye looks more like a grey spot than a typical eyeball, and it is not designed for vision. Rather, it is referred to as a parietal eye, one that senses light and movement from above. This eye is part of an iguanas defense system as it allows them to detect predators like hawks and owls.The two eyes on the face function like most others. They only have a few cell rods, though, so in low light conditions their vision is compromised. However, during the middle of the day when the sun is shining, iguanas can see long distances.

(8) These creatures do not like to be touched.

Unlike other pets that welcome the human touch, iguanas feel intense levels of stress when handled. Do not be misled into thinking that it can learn to enjoy a nice pat on the back. Petting may result in a good whip by the tail.

(9) Iguanas are diurnal creatures that rise with the sun.

Most reptiles are nocturnal, but iguanas keep the same schedule as human owners. This is a benefit for kids who will enjoy observing them scamper and play during daytime hours.

(10) They are expensive pets to both acquire and maintain.

In addition to the cost of the lizard, the large glass enclosure it requires is not cheap. Furthermore, they need to live in a temperature controlled environment with costly bulbs to provide heat and light. And then there is the heft price tag of seeking care from exotic veterinarians since the normal doctors don't usually treat reptiles.

(11) Pet iguanas require a lot of space in the house.

Full-sized iguanas can grow to almost 72 inches, or six feet long, and reach up to 20 pounds. The terrarium needs to be large enough for this huge lizard to move and play comfortably. If not, the pet iguana's health and wellbeing will be jeopardized.

(12) Adopting an iguana is a long-term commitment.

These hearty reptiles can live to be twenty years old when cared for properly. With the proper diet and environment, iguanas in captivity can thrive for two whole decades.

(13) Look no further than your refrigerator or backyard to feed an iguana.

There is no need to shop for gourmet feed, live crickets, or other gross specimens to feed a pet iguana. They are herbivores, so any leafy greens or vegetables will do just fine. You can even pick flowers from outside to feed these plant-loving animals.




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