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Iguana Hydration Versus Humidity

The Difference Between Hydration & Humidity With Iguanas

Hydration Versus Humidity

Hydration and humidity are two different things and many people seem to get the two confused. In the simplest of terms, hydration is caused by water that has been ingested. Humidity is the moisture in the air. Just because your enclosure may be displaying the proper humidity levels, it doesn't mean your iguana is actually hydrated.

Adequate Hydration

A well hydrated iguana is a healthy iguana. Iguanas need to be properly supported throughout all of their husbandry and this includes ensuring that your iguana is staying adequately hydrated.

Your iguana should have a clean bowl of water at all times. It is true that some iguanas will not drink from a bowl but that doesn't mean you should not provide one. If your iguana is inclined to drink, the option should be there. In addition, water evaporates and that will raise the ambient humidity in the enclosure, which your iguana also needs.

I use to keep a soaking tub in my enclosures when possible. Sterilite and Rubbermaid totes are great for this. Allowing your iguana the ability to soak when it wants is ideal though not feasible for every set-up. Many iguanas will drink while they are soaking and will use the soak tub as a toilet. It is important that you clean the soak tub once it has been "dirtied" and the water should be changed daily, regardless if it was used as a toilet or not.

You should be misting your iguanas food with water when offering it to them. Your iguana will ingest water as it eats it salad because those food items have a composition made up of water. Misting the food ensures that even more water is getting into your iguanas system. This doesn't mean that you should be saturating their food. A light misting will help get water into them, even in small doses.

Misting your iguana is a great way to get them to lick water off of themselves and their enclosure decor. Misting also helps keep the humidity up and should be done at least 2 times per day, though more wouldn't hurt so long as it isn't throwing off your humidity levels.

Bathing your iguana and allowing it to soak is also a great way to hydrate your iguana. Bath time offers your iguana the ability to relive itself (defecate), which many do. This is great for the owner since cleaning up iguana poo can be messy. When they go in the tub, which many can be trained or conditioned to do, clean-up and sterilization is a breeze. Many iguanas, and bearded dragons if you are wondering, will drink from the water they are soaking in. Water ingestion, just like in humans, is the best method of hydration. Some iguanas will initially fear the tub. Placing bath mats that your iguana can grip will help make them feel more secure. You should also shoot for water that is around 85°. Water that is too warm or too cool can shock your iguana. I found that I had to run the bath before I placed my iguanas inside it. The running water would freak them out, though from my reading this doesn't seem to be the case with all iguanas.

The fruits and veggies you offer your iguana are loaded with water, particularly fruits. Fruits do not constitute a large part of your iguanas diet but should be offered as suggested to get that extra water into your iguana while also offering a boost of vitamins and minerals.

Maintain proper temperatures and humidity levels. Water evaporates and will do so faster when enclosures are not kept at the proper temperatures causing the enclosure to dry out.

Your vet may require you to "inject" water into your iguanas mouth as a means of re-hydrating a dehydrated iguana. Follow the vets advice and do not start doing this unless advised by your qualified reptile vet.

Properly hydrated iguanas will be healthier. They will be able to metabolize their food better, their organs will function better and they will be better equipped to deal with illness.

Green Iguana Soaking Tub


The humidity in the enclosure will help your iguana hydrate because of the constant presence of moisture but it alone will not keep your iguana hydrated. The ambient humidity in your iguanas enclosure should not fall below 65%, though you should shoot for 70% - 80%. Iguana owners are in a constant battle with maintaining adequate humidity levels. This is in part because their enclosures may have too much ventilation, temperatures are running too warm, a dry heating system in their home simply consumes the moisture or they simply aren't providing enough moisture to maintain the humidity. There are some methods that can be applied to help keep the humidity levels within the proper range and they should be utilized where possible.

Note: You MUST use a hygrometer to measure the humidity levels. If you aren't using a quality hygrometer (not those disposable radial ones that pet stores carry which are notorious for being wrong), you aren't caring for your iguana properly because you have no way of knowing if your humidity is accurate or not.

Provide your iguana with a water dish. Water will evaporate, even if your iguana is not drinking from it. It will also be an option for your iguana to hydrate and there is NO reason it should not be in the enclosure.

Provide a soaking tub in your enclosure. As the picture of one of my enclosures (above) displays, a soaking tub can be added in an aesthetically pleasing manner while also adding functionality. The soaking tub will allow your iguana to hydrate, may be used as a toilet and the water evaporation process will aid in raising the humidity.

Mist your iguana several times per day. This will raise the humidity through evaporation, adding water directly to the air and will also help with hydration as your iguana laps the water from itself and its surroundings.

Humidifiers are a great way to pump humidity into an enclosure. A humidifier can be placed outside of the enclosure with a hole made in the enclosure to pump the air in. Humidifiers, as with heating and lighting appliances, should be on a timer so that they go on and off at certain intervals and aren't forgotten.

Misting systems can be implemented in an enclosure. There are many commercial systems that are available on the market that can be equipped within your iguanas enclosure. These systems can be placed on timers that have them run for specific amounts of time at specific intervals throughout the day. These are wonderful for raising the humidity and for maintaining it.

Build a drip system like those used for Chameleons. A simple drip system, where the water falls into a containment unit or bowl, which will create humidity through evaporation, is also easily implemented.


Author: Richard Brooks