Iguanas can make great pets but they are not for everyone. This caresheet was written back in 2004-05 and is currently in the process of a complete rewrite, as you likely saw before visiting this single page. James Hatfield has an excellent book you can find here:
Iguanas are reptiles of a prehistoric demeanor. Their relative likeness to dinosaurs has caused them to be yearned by more and more individuals as a household pet. And although they are of a majestic nature and do make wonderful pets, they are not for everyone. In fact, about 9 out of 10 iguanas die each year due to negligence, ignorance, and poor husbandry.
In order to help change these statistics, iguana owners need to better educate themselves on where iguanas come from in the wild and what their environmental needs were in their natural habitat.
By better understanding your pet from an inside view, you can learn to better meet those needs in captivity.
Iguanas are diurnal, arboreal, folivores. Simply stated, they are daytime, tree dwelling, leaf eaters. Although they are not prone to reside in trees at all times, it is known that iguanas are most secure when they have reached the highest point in their habitat. In most instances, iguanas are more than likely to be in the vicinity of water, as they are extremely aggressive swimmers.
An iguana will leap from a tree limb of great height, to awaiting water below when frightened or when danger is present. While pressing their forelimbs and hind limbs to the side of their body, they will use their powerful tails to sail them across the water somewhat in the fashion of a snake. In this graceful manner, they can easily escape danger.
Iguanas can be found in the tropical and sub-tropical forests of Central and South America. They have also been seen in Paraguay and the Caribbean islands. Recently, wild iguanas have also been found roaming Florida where they have readily acclimated to the surroundings and have begun breeding.
Although most iguanas are found in relatively humid climates, they can also be found in dryer climates. There is even a species of iguana that resides, preferably, in the vicinity of salt water.
Iguanas require natural sunlight to aid in the digestion of food and to regulate body temperature. (Thermo-regulation) They spend most of their day basking in this sunlight while taking the occasional break to forage for food. Foraging for food appears to take place in sporadic bursts beginning in the morning and carrying on into the afternoon.
Iguanas are a solitary creature leading very desolate lives, only interacting with other iguanas when breeding or protecting their territory. Males secrete a wax like substance that marks his territory and warns other males of his presence. Females use this wax as a way of identifying the location of a male iguana during the breeding season.
Iguanas, when confronted by another male, will expand their dewlap ( the sack found below the jaw) and rapidly bob its head. Thus warning the intruder that he has come to close and should vacate his territory. Occasionally the two males will fight over the territory and attack one another with their powerful claws and teeth. They also use their tails as a whip which can easily tear the flesh.
During the breeding season, expanding the dewlap and head bobbing can also be used to "show off" in front of a female. In order for a male to copulate with a female, he must first show his strength by overpowering her and holding her down with his extremely strong mouth until she subdues. There are times that the female gets injured during this violent courtship but that is the way of nature.
As with most animals, iguanas are somewhat mysterious creatures and although information on them is becoming more abundant, there is still much to learn about these beautiful reptiles.
Iguanas are easily stressed reptiles. To help ease the stress that is associated with moving an iguana into a new environment, have the enclosure prepared.
Naturally, this depends upon the size of your iguana. Iguana enclosures vary as your iguana grows and can become extremely costly. It is suggested that the iguana enclosure be custom made by the owner prior to bringing the iguana home. Seeing as your iguana will grow to be at least 5-6 feet in length, why not make the enclosure to house him/her at full length. This will prove very cost-effective as your iguana matures. Dimensions and methods for custom enclosures vary. I suggest that the enclosure be NO SMALLER than 5 feet long, 4 feet wide, and six feet high.
This may seem like a large enclosure, especially when you place your little 4-inch iguana inside, but I guarantee that it will not look so large as your iguana develops and grows. Preferably, I suggest making the enclosure as large as possible for your living environment. The larger the enclosure, the happier your iguana will be as he/she grows. By custom building your iguanas enclosure prior to purchasing him/her, you are deleting the stress of having to move him/her to a new enclosure, as it will most-certainly outgrow the previous enclosure.
One of the most controversial topics with cage preparation is associated with the proper substrate that should be used. Many individuals prefer to use elegant looking materials such as sand, gravel, mulch, wood chips, and rugs. Although these items clearly do look attractive, they pose a threat to your iguanas general health. All of the above listed materials have drawbacks to them. Sand for instance can be easily ingested and clog vital organs. The same goes for gravel. Mulch and wood chips pose the same and additional threats. Many woods hold moisture for long periods of time. This can cause mold and bacteria to form. Also, many woods when heated to high temperatures, let off toxic odors to reptiles. Rugs on the other hand are difficult substrates to use due to the fact iguanas will chew and tear at them. They hold moisture and bacteria and can be difficult to clean. Rugs also can collect odors from your iguanas feces and urates. To properly and safely substrate your iguanas enclosure, I suggest the following:
Newspaper, linoleum, or tile.
I understand that newspaper is unattractive, but it is easily maintained and it is cheap. Newspaper can be removed and replaced as needed and this is great when you are concerned about bacteria and odors. Tile, unfortunately, can be expensive and time consuming to install. The benefit of tile is that it looks beautiful and is easily cleaned.
My favorite substrate is linoleum. They have many patterns to choose from, and it is relatively cheap. Also, it is extremely easy to clean. This is my most suggested substrate for any iguana enclosure.
I am not referring to a couch or love seat here. I am speaking of climbing materials. Iguanas need to exercise and climbing is one of the best-known methods. There are a number of different things that can be used as furniture. My all time favorite and the most popular pieces of furniture are driftwood.
Driftwood adds an elegant look to any enclosure and is a very stable type of wood. Driftwood can be rather pricey though and that causes people to look for alternative methods and woods. I see and hear of people going into the woods and grabbing attractive logs and branches to decorate and furnish their enclosures with. Although this is not a bad thing, these items must be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly. Soaking these branches and logs in bleach is one method used by many iguana owners.
Sit them in the tub and allow them to soak for a few hours. Rinse them off excessively and then use them.
For some, they will bake them. This can be a dangerous method but works well. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Place the preferred wood on the lowest shelf away from the immediate heat source and allow it to bake for about 2-3 hours. Checking on the wood is crucial and must be done often. Spontaneous combustion can occur when the wood is heated to such high temperatures. This method is a sure fire way to guarantee that you have terminated any and all insects and bacteria that may have been living on or in, this piece of wood.
Water and food dishes are rather simple. I use Tupperware due to its flexible nature and ability to take a beating. You can use just about anything though. Try to stay away from glass as accidents may happen and your iguana could get injured.
The water bowl should be deep enough for your iguana to climb into and soak, but shallow enough that he/she can drink from it without having to climb in.
Heating and Lighting
Iguanas require certain temperatures and lighting requirements in order to function properly. Without the proper heat gradient and lighting, iguanas can become sick and die.
Iguanas need a photo-period of 12 hours. They will spend much of this time absorbing the suns rays or the UV bulb rays that you've supplied. This does not have to be the only source of light in the enclosure. By placing a 75-100 watt normal household bulb atop the enclosure, you will allow total light and realistic simulation of actual, outdoor sunlight.
Iguanas require a basking spot. Normally the basking spot is the highest point that the iguana can reach in his/her enclosure. It is no closer than 10 inches and no less than 14 inches to the lighting/heating fixtures and is very stable. The size of the basking spot depends upon the size of your iguana. It should be large enough that your iguana can stretch out and soak his/her entire body under the heating and lighting fixtures. This is where your iguana will spend most of its time and this is where the ultraviolet lights should be set. You should place a thermometer within the enclosure around the basking spot and maintain the ambient temperature around 90-95 degrees. Exceeding these temps could cause the enclosure to dry out rapidly.
Also, excessive heat is dangerous for all creatures do to dehydration and thermal burns.
Iguanas need to maintain their bodies temperature. The lowest point in the enclosure should have another thermometer and be maintained around 78- 84 degrees. This allows your iguana the ability to move around the tank and adjust his/her body temperature to the required temps.
Some iguanas like the ability to hide when frightened or stressed. Many iguana owners use cardboard boxes within the enclosure for this purpose. I prefer to use a wood box with open faces and sides. I cover those spots with artificial plant life. This method looks very attractive and looks much more realistic.
Diet Compound and Food Preparation
Iguanas are complex reptiles. Although you can not go to the local store and purchase what these exotic creatures would eat in the wild, you can purchase a variety of foods at your local market that will meet their nutritional needs.
Iguanas require an approximate 2:1 ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus. This simply means that their intake of calcium and phosphorus should equal out to approximately 2 parts Calcium to 1 part Phosphorus.
Many individuals that DO know about iguanas focus solely upon this rule and find themselves lacking other important vitamins and minerals. So when planning your diet, use the rule of 2CA:1PH, but be sure that they are getting their vitamins and minerals as well.
Most people do not know the nutritional values of the foods they purchase, so I constructed a diet that I have been feeding my Iguana.
Below is a diet that I have formulated that appears to meet the nutritional needs of Iguanas. Understand that this is not a replica of what these animals would eat in the wild, it is the diet that I have been feeding my iguanas. Research is still being done to determine their exact nutritional needs.
Iguana Iguana Diet
( All fruits and vegetables are fresh and washed thoroughly.)
Collard Greens - 1/2 cup chopped
Mustard Greens - 1/2 cup chopped
Turnip Greens - 1/2 cup chopped
Swiss Chard - (1/2 cup chopped - occasionally)
Spinach - (1/2 cup chopped - occasionally)
Watercress - 1/2 cup chopped
Celery - 1/2 cup chopped
Winter Squash (orange) ( minced into small cubes or shredded)
(banana., acorn, kabocha, and pumpkin are good squashes)
Navel Orange ( sliced then chopped into small sections)
Red Apple ( sliced then chopped into small sections)
Banana ( chopped into small sections - occasionally)
Alfalfa pellets - Rabbit food ( ground into powder or broken up)
Please note that the items marked in red are given periodically ( once every 2 weeks ) and not on a daily basis.
( Do not substitute alfalfa rabbit pellets with alfalfa sprouts.)
I know that for some people, this may seem like an incredibly expensive diet. Let me assure you that it isn't. Depending upon where you live, these items should cost you no more than $13. That is a very small price to pay to ensure your Iguana of his health and well being.
Iguanas are similar to snakes in the sense that they do not chew their food. In fact, although they have sharp teeth, they swallow it whole. That is why food preparation is so important.
I myself own a small food processor that I use when preparing their salad. It chops everything into small, bite size, digestible pieces and makes it almost impossible for my iguanas to separate each part of the salad. This gives me the assurance that they are receiving all the proper nutrients and not just eating the parts that they prefer. This part of their diet is served in the morning. When I return from work in the afternoon, I give them a bowl of fresh fruit. I prepare this with a stainless steel knife. First I chop the fruit into slices and then I chop it into sections.
( Over processing your iguanas salad, so it looks like baby food, is not recommended. The food will go bad rapidly and your iguana is not going to appreciate it.)
Vitamins and Minerals
Iguanas, like humans, need a variety of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Fruits and solid vegetables contain a large quantities of vitamins and minerals that may not always be found in just the "greens". Owners must understand that they need to vary their iguanas diet. Greens alone are not going to supply all the required nutrients. Fruit is a large supplier of multiple vitamins and minerals. Consider this when feeding your iguana.
A major problem with keeping iguanas healthy in captivity, is supplying them with an appropriate supply of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is a fat soluble vitamin that an iguana needs to assimilate the calcium in its diet. Without it, your iguana can contract a severe case of Metabolic Bone Disease.
There is no good source of this vitamin found within fruits and vegetables. It is also believed that iguanas can not absorb this vitamin through their food. So attempting to use a supplement is useless.
Wild iguanas manufacture their own vitamin D3 by basking in unfiltered sunlight. The ultraviolet radiation from the sun acts like a catalyst which converts a substance known as pro-vitamin D3 into pre-vitamin D3. In turn, this pre-vitamin D3 is converted into vitamin D3, which binds to a blood protein and then can be transferred to the liver via the bloodstream. This "activated" form of D3, then can be utilized to influence the metabolism of dietary calcium and phosphorus.
So how can you supply this crucial vitamin to your iguana? By purchasing the correct light. There are many "so called" reptile lights on the market. Many of them produce a spectrum of light known as UVA rays. Although UVA rays are good for increasing appetite, improving general fitness, and inducing reproductive behavior, they do not produce the vitamin D3. That can only be found in the rays referred to as UVB. One of the best lights on the market today (by opinion) is made by Reptile UV/ Mac Industries. It is a balanced, full spectrum light that simulates natural sunlight. It contains both UVA rays as well as UVB rays. The UVB rays found in this light are essential for the proper breakdown and utilization of calcium and phosphorus in your iguanas diet. Therefore, it should be considered a necessity when configuring your iguanas dietary needs. Both the Mega Ray EB and the Mega Ray SB are spectacular lighting. There is currently no other light on the market that can compare!
It has been noted that many veterinarians suggest vitamin and calcium supplementation. I myself have not begun to use them but I can not say that they are not needed. I have found that numerous iguana owners use a multi- vitamin called Centrum. To use supplements correctly, grind them up. Do not sprinkle the ground up supplement over the food, but instead, mix it within the food. Never place the pill as a whole or in pieces on or within the salad. When consumed, they can become logged and pieces may tear your iguanas internal flesh.
(It is not known what the exact amount of this vitamin should be given, so use caution but I would suggest grinding up one pill and using it twice. The first half of the powder should be mixed within the food on Monday. Use the second half of the powder on Thursday.)
Fresh water should replace existing water at least once a day. If your iguana prefers to use his/her water bowl as a toilet, it should be replaced as soon as it has been used. It is preferable by some iguana owners, myself included, that your iguanas watering dish should be large enough so that given the urge, your iguana can soak in it.
The diet that I have displayed is only an example diet. It is nothing more than the diet that I have been feeding my iguanas. There are numbers of different combinations of foods that you can use in configuring your iguanas diet. Remember to follow the rule of 2 parts calcium and 1 part phosphorus. Also, iguanas need vitamins and minerals too, so a variety of different fruits and vegetables is always suggested.
By mixing the appropriate fruits, solid vegetables, and "greens" as an entire diet, you will be assuring yourself that your iguana will be there for you for many years to come.
Heating and Lighting
Iguanas require specific heating and lighting in order to thrive in captivity. Although supplying this sort of heat gradient may seem at first to be simple, you will find that maintaining it is anything but that!
Iguanas require a variable heat gradient in order to maintain the ideal body temperature. Unlike mammals, reptiles are cold blooded and regulate their temperature by moving to different areas of their environment. The change of temperatures, through the movement of one area to the next, enables them to regulate themselves.
Iguanas also require certain temperatures in order for them to properly digest their food. In their captive environment, this area is referred to as the basking spot. It is the most frequented spot in the enclosure and is also the focal point of UV exposure.
A heat gradient simply means that there needs to be different heat localities throughout the enclosure. Your iguana needs to have both the ability and option to transfer itself to these localities in order to regulate its temperature. Maintaining a PROPER heat gradient is crucial to the survival of your green buddy.
The evening temperature for your iguana needs to be maintained at 70-84 degrees. The basking spot temperature should also be at this temperature. There should be little noise and light so the iguana can sleep peacefully and not become stressed.
Maintaining an evening temperature can be done by using various available resources. I have been using red heat bulbs to supply this heat. The use of Ceramic Heat Emitters (Che,s) is also an option and another way I maintain temperatures within my enclosure.
(CHE,S require a porcelain socket as they become VERY hot and will melt any conventional socket that you use.)
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH THE GREEN IGUANA
The green iguana is highly susceptible to illness and disease due to poor husbandry and infestations. It is the iguanas owners job to identify and treat these ailments. I have listed some common problems found with the green iguana and some identifying characteristics, symptoms, and causes.
Remember, some/most illnesses require medical attention. Do not substitute yourself for that of a veterinarian.
Metabolic Bone Disease( MBD )
Metabolic bone disease, or MBD which it is commonly referred to as, seems to be one of the most common maladies found in captive green iguanas. MBD is a disease that is preventable so long as you pay attention to your iguanas diet, lighting, and heating.
MBD is an ailment caused by a number of factors or combination of factors. By identifying the problem and correcting it, you may be able to reverse this horrible disease.
The most common cause of MBD is poor husbandry. Your iguana is relying upon you to meet his environmental needs as well as his dietary intake. When you do not research the exact requirements of this species, the iguana ultimately pays with painful maladies such as MBD.
Here is a list of symptoms that you should be on the lookout for.
* Broken bones,
* Twisted spine and legs
* Swollen limbs, bumps
* Swollen jaw
* Lethargy or lack of appetite
* Paralysis of lower extremities
MBD is most often caused by a lack of calcium within the diet, inadequate exposure to the proper UVB rays, and insufficient temperatures. One or all of these requirements can cause your iguana to contract MBD. Ultimately, calcium deficiency is the root cause!
Iguanas have a sensitive balance of vitamins and minerals that they require in order to remain healthy. Calcium within an iguanas diet is crucial to their survival. It helps to balance out the phosphorus within themselves as well as bone growth and nerve function. When an iguana is receiving an inadequate amount of calcium within his/her diet, it throws off these functions and problems incur. It is suggested that the amount of calcium taken in by an iguana should be twice the amount of phosphorus that is digested. Thus balancing out the phosphorus that is needed. When an iguana is not receiving the appropriate amounts of calcium that they require, they must begin pulling it from other resources throughout their bodies. Most often, this being the bones and spinal cord. By doing this, they are causing their bones to become frail. Breakage of the bones is imminent and possible nerve damage occurs when the pulling is coming from the spine. Twisted and deformed limbs are immediate signs that your iguana has contracted MBD.
Iguanas require UVB exposure for a number of reasons. The most important reason, vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is found within the suns UVB rays. Iguanas cannot derive this vitamin from the food they digest, so they must absorb it. This is crucial for an iguana since vitamin D3 assimilates the dietary calcium and phosphorus within the iguanas diet. This vitamin allows the proper break down and utilization of calcium and phosphorus to take place. Without it, iguanas cannot digest the calcium that they have ingested and therefore it becomes useless. The best way for your iguana to absorb this form of D3 is through unfiltered sunlight. When that is not possible, we rely upon UVB lights. Information on this can be found within the Vitamin D3 section of this page.
Iguanas require constant temperatures. If your iguanas enclosure is too cool, he/she will not be able to properly digest his/her food. Thermostats are the best method to control enclosure temps. For the proper enclosure temperatures, please see the Heating and Lighting section of this page.
Astoundingly, as serious as this disease is, it can be treated if identified early enough. Most cases can be reversed with treatments such as, increased calcium intake, UVB exposure, change in diet, and overall husbandry if necessary. Severe cases of MBD will require immediate veterinary attention so that they can attempt correction.
Research your iguana. Take preventative measures and insure that you are meeting all of the requirements of this species. Although MBD can be corrected, do not wait until it happens. Some of the problems that are incurred from MBD can lead to permanent paralysis and your iguana being maimed. You have the ability to stop this disease before it happens, so do it!
For a more in depth look at Metabolic Bone Disease, refer to the links below.
Tricia Powers' MBD page
Green Iguana Society MBD Page
Parasitic infestations (External)
Ticks and iguanas are not common occurrences. Ticks are easily noticed and extremely easy to remedy. Remove the tick by "plucking" it from your iguana.
Immediately burn the critter as they are difficult to kill. Look for any wound on your iguana and cleanse the area with Beta dine.
Infestations from ticks is very rare. Should this ever happen to you, follow the same outline as you would for mites.
Mites are the most common parasitic problem that iguana owners have encountered. If left untreated, your iguana will ultimately suffer and die.
Mites are closely related to fleas and ticks and they are incapable of living within their own means. They rely upon a host to supply them with their vital living necessities. The host, being the iguana, will supply them with both food and shelter. Living under the scales and folds of your iguana, they will latch themselves to the flesh and begin feeding upon the blood of the host. These parasites will never leave unless they are preparing to lay eggs or have died. They may also detach themselves from the host when temperatures are too high for them. This is when they may seek and find other hosts. This is how infestations spread from pet to pet. Although these parasites have short life spans, they have the ability to create chaos and trauma wherever they are found.
Mites are extremely small and rather difficult to see. Specifically when they are still juveniles and have not been feeding long. When checking for mites, it is important to pay special attention to the following areas, as they are known to congregate here. Reptile mites can usually be found roaming the body in a very animated fashion. They are seen tucked under the edges of scales, around the eyes, ears, tympanic membrane, nuchal crest, and along the ridge of the spines. They are small, black, red, or gray insects. They leave behind a gray/white feces matter wherever they have been. Also remember that they are an egg laying species and multiply in rapid spurts. Identification and immediate treatment are your only chance at a minor infestation. If a prolonged period lapses before the mites are discovered, veterinary attention may be required and valuable time may have been lost.
When should you look for mites?
I suggest looking for mites at every cage cleaning and bathing session. As stated before, immediate identification and removal is imminent. Mites are such a common problem with captive iguanas, why wait for the signs! Some signs to watch for though are: excessive scratching, (not to be confused with that associated with shedding), shedding problems, aggressive/annoyed behaviors, damaged or odd looking scales, and visibly seeing the pests.
What do you do after you have found mites?
Destroying an infestation of mites is neither easy nor fun. When working with iguanas, there is a two-fold process you must use in order to eliminate your infestation.
Part 1: The iguana
First you must separate your iguana from his/her enclosure. Do not bring him/her to another room in your house, but immediately place your iguana in the bathtub. Fill the tub approximately to shoulder height with water that is 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit and allow your iguana to soak. Many of the mites roaming on your iguana will drown. The remainder will make their way to the head and face area so that they can escape the water. Gently pour water over your iguanas head to remove them. It is wise to lightly rub your iguana with a sponge while he is bathing. It will help to remove deceased mites as well as the dried on fecal matter. Empty the tub and run the shower for a minute or so. This will eliminate the mites that have stuck themselves to the side of the tub. Again, refill the tub with water approximately 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. First wipe your iguana down with Beta dine and allow him/her to soak once again for about 15 minutes. Remove your iguana and rinse the remaining Beta dine off. Dry your iguana and place him/her in a temporary enclosure away from the room that he just came from. You would not want a re-infestation prior to ridding yourself of the old one!( The Beta dine will assist with the small bites left by the mites. )
!!!!!See the Beta dine bathing area below for more information.!!!!!
Part 2: The enclosure
Time to attack the enclosure, the surrounding area, and all materials within the enclosure. This is the most time consuming and important part of eliminating mites. Seeing as mites are so small, they have the ability to hide in cracks and crevices that ordinarily you would not consider a problem. Unfortunately, everywhere in that room is now a concern when dealing with a mite infestation.
Begin by removing all of the enclosure furniture and watering/feeding bowls. Place them in the bathtub with scalding hot water and a mixture of bleach. You should mix ½ a cup of bleach for every one gallon of water that goes in the tub. More will not hurt anything. These numbers are just minimal. Now allow all the wood and bowls to soak for at least 8 hours.
While these items are soaking, spray the interior of the enclosure with a bird mite and lice spray. This can be purchased from your local pet store.
I have found that this treatment as well as the following work well together to exterminate mites.
Now begin wrapping the enclosure with waste bags (trash bags). Attempt to make the enclosure as air tight as possible. Seal the trash bags with tape for security and to form a seal. Remember to leave an opening large enough for you to reach into the enclosure. In the middle of the enclosure, on a piece of wood or tin foil, place 2 cat flea colors that were just opened. Cutting the collars into sections after you have expanded them all the way is recommended. Seal up the remainder of the enclosure as airtight as possible and leave the enclosure to fumigate itself for at least 5 hours.
These 2 combination treatments should rid the enclosure of any eggs and mites that may have been residing there.
While you are waiting for the fumigation process to come to an end, clean the rest of the room. Begin with the immediate area around the enclosure. Spray the mite and lice spray liberally around and on the enclosure. Hit all rugs and drapes within the immediate area. Spray less aggressively as you leave the immediate area. Be sure to hit the entire rug or floor area within that room. Remember to clean all lighting equipment as well. Mites may stray and can be found there.
Once the appropriate time has lapsed, remove all substrates and discard them outside. Vacuum the inside of the enclosure vigorously. Making sure to remove all dead mites as well as the eggs. Scraping all the edges with a knife is recommended to loosen up any pests that were hiding. Now vacuum the entire room. Following the vacuuming, clean everything with soap and water. Use a spray bottle to get into the crevices of the enclosure and be sure to remove all toxic wastes. Once the enclosure is clean and has been aired out, pending the proper time has lapsed for the furniture, you can replace all of the items that were removed.
What do you do after you did all that?
For the next 2 weeks, I recommend using the bird mite and lice spray around and on the enclosure. Mites that may have not been killed will come in contact with the spray and thus terminate themselves. Remember to clean the inside of the enclosure excessively with soap and water after using the spray. Vacuum the room daily to ensure that any dead or alive mites will be removed.
Mouth rot ( Ulcerative Stomatitis )
Stomatitis, commonly referred to as mouth rot, is a very serious ailment. If left untreated, reptiles with stomatitis may lose bone and tissue and have to undergo reconstructive surgery.
Many believe that stomatitis is a disease caused by inflammations of the gums and tooth related problems. This is not the case. In fact, stomatitis is not even a disease. It is a secondary infection caused by a primary systemic infection that needs to be discovered and expelled. Realizing that your reptile has stomatitis is only cause for greater concern. Your greatest concern should be what triggered the stomatitis!
Reptiles with stomatitis have been known to show defect problems such as decreased appetite/ reluctance to eat, (due to pain and discomfort) thick/stringy saliva, yellow/white-curdled mucus on, in, or around the mouth, loose or lost teeth, and odd misshapen blotches on the gums. These are all common known signs of stomatitis in a reptile.
Although many believe that they can treat the stomatitis at home, this is incorrect. Antibiotics must be administered in order to extinguish the primary infection. Unless you yourself are a veterinarian and have access to the proper antibiotics and treatment experience, bring the reptile to a vet as soon a possible. Treating the stomatitis is the second part of healing your reptile. The first would be by identifying and attacking the primary systemic infection that caused the mouth rot in the first place. What you can and should do though, is immediately quarantine the animal that is showing signs of stomatitis. Their enclosure should remain silent and stress free. Your reptiles heat gradient should be consistent and not lowered at night. This will allow all the antibiotics that your vet has administered to work at peek levels. This will also enhance your reptiles immune system to fight the infection with its full potential. Once your reptile has begun treatment for the infections, you must find what caused the mouth rot. Begin by checking the following: diet, heating, lighting, UVB exposure, stress, sanitation, or has this animal been introduced to a new animal that did not undergo quarantine? All of these can be a factor in why the reptile has contracted stomatitis. You should review each of these issues and guarantee yourself that they meet the species requirements.
When attempting to treat the reptile at home, stay away from the following items as antiseptics: vaginal douche/vinegar, mouthwashes, and peroxides. All these items have been listed as cytotoxic. They will all attack both the good and bad tissues/bacteria of the mouth. As iguanas require some of the bacteria that are found in their mouths, you want to avoid removing them.
It is recommended that individuals use Novasolon or Betadine solutions. Both are mild antiseptics and should be diluted with water. Ingestion or inhalation of these solutions by your iguana should be avoided. Removal of all plaques within the mouth should be left to experienced individuals as complications may arise. Another reason why veterinary visits is crucial to removing the mouth rot.
GO SEE A VETERINARIAN!
I myself have been fortunate and have not had to deal with cases of mouth rot as of yet and thus I am supplying a link to a site that has more specific information on this topic. Click the link below to view Tricia Powers explanation and findings on Ulcerative Stomatitis.