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Help With Desert Iguanas

Discussion in 'Lizards - General' started by Senamian, Nov 27, 2013.

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  1. Senamian

    Senamian Member

    (I hope the pictures show up for you... It refuses to let me upload via computer)





    Long story short: 7 years ago these guys were wild caught, imported and sold. 5 years later they came to a reptile rescue that I helped out with. They did not have UVB or sufficient heat, and were living in a 10 gallon tank together. They were also being fed only a carnivore diet prior to coming to the rescue. Both males they were forced to tolerate each other, resulting in one being stunted, and having regrowth on his tail. That same year the rescue shut down and everyone was rehomed. They ended up in someone's garage forgotten and unwanted, were picked up by a young lady who then later rehomed these boys with her friend who has had them for 1.5 years. Their UVB has NOT been changed for 2 years... I am surprised I have found them once again after 2 years, and very excited to do my part in making what is left of their lives comfortable!!

    - I will be getting them this weekend.
    - Their enclosure I estimate to be 20 gallon long (30 inches long, 12.5 inches wide, didn't tell me the height).
    - Substrate is sand.
    - They have the depleted UVB tube lighting, along with a basking lamp which has been purchased about a month ago.
    - Unsure of temperatures or humidity levels.
    - They are currently fed sweet potato, honeydew, kale and mealworms.
    ** They will be getting a new UVB very soon!!

    What I am concerned about: Everything! :)

    1. They are both males. I would LOVE to separate them, so that they may live without the constant stress of another male around, for what is left of their lives. After 7 years of being together, can this still be done? I have an empty tank, about the same size as the one he is giving me.

    2. How should I encourage them to eat new foods, that will be better for them? I already own a bearded dragon, so the veggies for him (or so I have read up on) are the same as what they should eat (collards, mustard greens, dandelion greens, butternut squash, etc). What should I avoid feeding them?

    3. The water bowl: It looks like a small hamster bowl. Is this big enough? Is a bowl needed? Should/can I mist or is it best to avoid misting due to humidity levels? I'm in Alberta Canada and it is fairly dry currently.

    4. I have bee pollen and alfalfa powder for my beardie - can they have these too?

    Any additional information and advice is greatly appreciated!! These are pretty uncommon in my area, so absolutely no one knows what they are or how to feed/handle/care for them... A lot of things I have read contradict themselves, so I feel it is best asking someone who perhaps has had experience with them! :)
  2. Vers

    Vers Elite Member

    I would apply the husbandry found here. Even though the care sheet is based on Sauromalus, the same basic care applies to Dipsos. Diet wise, my go-to desert herbivore regimen is as follows: curly endive (C. endivia var. crispum), escarole (C. endivia var. latifolia), chicory (C. intybus), orchard and timothy grass (buy seeds on ebay to grow on your own), dandelion greens, winter squash (i.e. spaghetti), despined opuntia, edible flowers (i.e. pesticide+herbicide free hibiscus, dandelion, nasturtium, hollyhock mallow) and ground or soaked mazuri tortoise pellets. Other greens, like collard, turnip, radicchio, arugula, bok choy and cilantro, are fine as well. Collected pollen and alfalfa powder are OK too, but the former should be used in moderation/sparingly.

    As far as separation goes, they may experience depression however these animals are territorial by nature, so it would probably be best for two males to be separated regardless of how long they were housed together. Each really deserve their own 4x2x2 enclosures however if you cannot provide that 40gal breeders would do. Lighting wise, I would seriously consider T5 HO fluorescent setups, be they Arcadia 12% or ZooMed 10.0 variants. For heating I would recommend standard outdoor halogen flood lamps (preferably on dimmers) or, if you have the funds, a good metal halide (i.e. EYE ColorArc), which require external ballasts to run.

    Hope that helps!
  3. Senamian

    Senamian Member

    Thanks for the answer!

    Brought them home today. The big boy (lazy/laid back?) is 63g, and about 12". The smaller of the two (who has had his tail regrown partially), is 59g and 11".

    The "UVB"..... is Aquari-Lux, over 2 years old. I don't think aquarium lighting gives enough UVB for reptiles, since the higher end ones are more expensive and used mainly for plants. The basking light (under a month old) is a 100 watt Sun-Glo.

    The sand... Is a mix? Some red "desert sand" (which has dyed the bottom of their feet and tails orange....) is mixed with playsand.

    But they have been getting calcium with vitamin D.

    Thanks for the caresheet! That will definitely help.

    I would definitely love to separate them then. They are on the small side of what they technically should weigh and be in length (from what I have read).
  4. Senamian

    Senamian Member

  5. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The aquari-lux bulb does not supply any UVB. It is strictly a color enhancing bulb for aquariums.
  6. Senamian

    Senamian Member

    Yeah that is what I thought... Luckily, the new basking bulb he had put in about a month ago is a Sun Glo, so they have been getting something for sure in the last month. I'll just use the aquarium light for my aquarium ;)

    Turns out the big fella is dehydrated, and from what I read they are not to be bathed (like I can do with my bearded dragon). He is the one I am focusing more on, as the other fella definitely has up n' go in him.

    The pictures I am adding are all of the bigger boy. He has something in the corner of his eye (there are some loose bark/straw junk in the tank that I will be dealing with shortly), his back legs have very little strength and no grip in his feet... He doesn't care if his backend is hanging, which most reptiles don't like that insecurity. He is also missing scales on the front right leg as well.... Not to mention (as you can see) he is dyed yellow/orange from that sand! I'll be replacing that as well.

    I did get him to eat a bite of greens that I offered, but after that he just closed his eyes and didn't want to do anything. Even while the other basked happily, he was sleeping in the tank, under the basking light.




  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    No, they haven't. The Sun glo is not a UVB generating bulb either. If the bulb does not specifically state that it generates UVB, then it doesn't. UVB bulbs are very specific. And not cheap.
    A good rule of thumb is if the bulb costs less that 20 dollars US, it isn't what you need.
  8. Vers

    Vers Elite Member

    I agree, and would also like to add that that type of lamp (Sun Glo) is not ideal for a lizard of this size. Sun Glo lamps are spot lamps, which project very narrow beams of light/heat, which isn't ideal for use within close proximity (inside a couple feet). I would suggest getting yourself a couple PAR30/38 outdoor halogen flood lamps in the 39-82w range along with a dimmer. These lamps will generally provide wide, well diffused areas of light/heat, which is more suitable for this type of application. I would also suggest investing in a couple T5 HO UV bulb setups, be they Arcadia 12% or ZooMed 10.0. These are going to provide the animals with very good UVB exposure and quite a bit of additional light.
  9. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    Maybe he meant solar glo which is an mvb?

    The big guy could be suffering from relocation stress or it could be he is showing signs of parasites, or mbd, or an infection, or even impaction. Its hard to say knowing how long they have had improper care and then you not having them for long.

    Where he is already Dehydrated you should give him a warm bath and see if that will get him to drink. They can be soaked when they are in desperate need of it but when they are healthy they should be limitied to light occaisional misting and then the water from their foods. I know that when it rains heavily I have seen a few Desert iggs in puddles of water drinking.
  10. Vers

    Vers Elite Member

    Not based on the color rendition of the lamp seen in the images posted. MVB lamps will have a green hue to them. Aside from that, Exo Terra doesn't make a 100w MVB.
  11. Senamian

    Senamian Member

    No, it says Exo Terra Sun Glo 100 watt, not solar glo. Ironically I cannot find any "sun glo" at a 100 watt, only 125... And they are not that cheap either way. 30.00 minimum, with most stores ranging from 35.00 to 45.00 for the 125.

    The lamp matter set aside... I don't intend to continue to use it anyways, since I prefer giving them a strong basking light separate from a UVB.

    Both of them had pooped when I was doing a quick clean (and rearrangement) of the tank while they were in a holding tank. They were a lot more active with the changes in the tank (from bare, to having more cover and things to explore!) I got rid of that hamster dish, and gave them a shallow reptile dish for their water.

    I had him out of the tank before, and when he had walked a short distance he was shaking, and I know that is a sign of MBD. The other boy does not like handling, and usually runs for cover when he sees me reaching in the tank (which is fine, just shows he is doing a lot better than his tankmate....)

    I have already taken advice on a different forum, from members who have dealt with dehydrated reptiles and ones with MBD. He got a bath (which perked him right up), and was fed to ensure he actually got something to eat. All he wanted to do after the bath was explore - which was a good thing to see from a fella who didn't even want to move before. He did not drink while in the bath, but was content trying to burrow himself deeper in the water lol.

    The following picture is of the big boy, looking quite satisfied.

  12. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    However, just so everyone is on the same page....The Sun-glo is nothing but a heating bulb. It doesn't really do anything a regular household bulb won't do. The solar glo is the heat and UVB.
    And 35-45 dollars for a simple heating bulb is ridiculous.
  13. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    More than likely he was drinking when burrowing himself into the water. Its what my tortoise does drowns herself for several minutes at a time when drinking. One thing you can try that is always a great help is to mix electrolyte powder or pedialyte in with his bath. This will perk him up even more and help rehydrate him faster.

    EDIT: also if the weather permits it try to tank him outside in a tub for 20-30 minutes of direct sunlight to combat the mbd. And make sure to give him lots of calcium rich foods (collard greens are great) or supplements.
  14. Senamian

    Senamian Member

    I did use pedialyte (forgot to mention that!), which I did get odd looks from the associate who helped me find it when she asked "how old 'he' was" and I had to explain it wasn't for what she thought lol.

    I wish I could take them outside! I'm in Canada... And we just recently got a delightful (ugh...) blizzard a couple days ago. Usually in summer my beardie goes outside - which of course is my intent for them come summer time.

    I have also changed out the tank (temporary until we make them a larger more suitable enclosure), from the tall tank to the one I have, which, though may not be long enough, it is at least not as tall and will allow more light and heat to make it to them. They also have new sand, which is clean of debris and that "red sand".

    EDIT: They are being fed a similar diet as my bearded dragon, such as collards :) The smaller fella is definitely eating on his own, but I have been making sure to hand feed the other one so I know he is getting food.
  15. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    Could you please use both tanks and seperate them? This will cause less stress on them overall and if the big guy has something wrong or develops some sort of infection you dont want it spreading to the little one.
  16. Senamian

    Senamian Member

    Sorry for a late reply!

    As for using both tanks... That would have meant one would end up without much heat, due to the tank being so ridiculously tall (I measured it, turns out it is a 30 gallon!).

    But, it's okay! I asked a friend if they would be able to take the smaller fella, and they can. He will have a temporary tank (week or two), then be upgraded to a larger/longer tank. So as of Sunday, I will be able to focus on the big boy more, without having to keep an eye on the smaller one dominating. It'll also help speed recovery!
  17. JoshuaJones

    JoshuaJones Banned User

    I haven't kept many lizards (iguanas, tegus, chuckwallas, beardies, Sceloporus spp., several geckos, and some horned lizards) but I'm assuming that you mean you want to take them out on a leash. At least I hope so. I don't know if you've seen these guys at the top of their game, but they can run so fast that they go up on two legs and just kick up a trail of dust. They're one of the AZ lizard species that my brother and I refer to as, "nevercatchems," as in:

    "Whoa, what kind of lizard was that?"

    "Doesn't matter. Never catch 'im."
  18. Senamian

    Senamian Member

    Josh, that is very true LOL. I've read about how these lovely desert iguanas become biped when they run xD For my beardie I have used a simple critter pen, but of course these wee guys would have to have something a bit more... Secure. I've seen some people use a mesh set up for their smaller critters, which is really cool.

    Of course as of Sunday, my friend will gladly house the smaller iguana, so both will be having their own enclosures very soon! I've got liquid calcium coming in as well, to help absorption.

    On a good (more like superb!) note, the big fella is finally eating real foods!! I had him out yesterday morning, and offered some collard greens. Took him a few tries to grab it, but he did it!! He had given it a taste first, and dove right into it lol. Then he just wanted to explore ;)

  19. Senamian

    Senamian Member


    So his temporary enclosure had a clean and new décor added. He is a LOT more active without the other one in the tank.

    I'm glad we were able to separate them since the other one was displaying breeding behavior (pink sides, puffing up, "push ups", other territorial and breeding behaviors).

    He's enjoying his overhauled home! :) (Yes he has UVB just didn't have the hood on for the picture).

    He even enjoyed some prickly pear fruit as a treat!

    Next step is getting/making a larger enclosure.
  20. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    That looks very nice!
    Only CHange I would do is put a large flatish rock under the basking light.
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