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New Iguana, Speak Stupid To Me.

Discussion in 'Green Iguanas' started by Sionnach0610, Oct 13, 2017.

  1. Sionnach0610

    Sionnach0610 Member

    I know this post is long, but I'm concerned for my new little buddies well being, so I'm literally begging everyone to please take the time to read this and then feel free to respond as cruelly as you like, as long as it's informative.

    3 days ago my children (oldest being 4) were given an Iguana as a gift by a complete nimrod who didn't even know it would get significantly larger than it already is. Now, I'm a strong advocate for not getting a pet unless you know 100% how to care for it prior to purchase so my first instict was to take him straight back to Petco, however they were already closed for the evening. So I set up the friggin Premium Dessert Kit that accompanied him (again, NIMROD), and started researching how to keep him alive until I could figure out what to do with him.

    Of course, in the mean time, I somehow fell completely in love and I would really prefer to keep him. Not to mention I used to work in a pet store and unfortunately, regardless of the reason for return, returned animals get a bad rap and usually end up worse off than before.

    I've been researching non-stop, but there's so much information out there my head is spinning. I'm hoping an experienced Green Iguana owner might be able to dumb down the basics for me because I'm not going to lie, I've never had a reptile before, just dogs. I don't actually understand much of what I'm reading.

    So here's some info.: I've gathered that I won't be able to tell gender until my babies much older, but my children have dubbed "him" Batman. I've currently set up his temporary home in my bedroom, in order to limit his interactions with my very young children to reduce risk of stress. Nimrod says that the sales associate told him Batman was 8 weeks old but quite frankly I find that laughable.

    All I had the first night to feed him was Kale, but according to my readings that's not the best for him so I've been attempting to feed him Mustard Greens, Accorn Squash, and Mango (squash and mango I use a cheese grater on). All he seems interested in is the greens though.

    I've been using a brand new squirt bottle to mist him and his cage every hour (I'm a stay at home mom so he's not wanting for attention) to keep humidity 80-90% but I can't seem to get the temp above 80 which I worrying me but I think I don't have the right wattage bulbs. I've also been filling the bath up a little with warm water to let him soak everyday and he seems to enjoy it. When he arrived he was shedding a lot and now all the dead skin seems to finally be gone.

    He's the sweetest thing, when he first arrived he was very skittish, but that night I put my hand in the tank on the opposite side from him and literally stood still for over an hour reading a book and he ended up climbing up my arm. Ever since then he doesn't fight me taking him out and loves to cuddle. He just lays on my stomach and sleeps most of the time. But I'm concerned about how often I should be taking him out.

    I've been taking him out a lot because I feel terrible about his current housing, when he's out I mist him every 30 minutes and trying to keep my hand cradled over his back to keep him warm but I don't want taking him out to being more detrimental to his health than I believe the cage is.

    I've looked for a larger habitat but I can't find anywhere around where I live that has what I need, the taller terriariums are all much smaller that the long tank I have but I know he needs to climb. And I've read that having a top opening terriarium can cause them stress as most predators attack from above.

    I've add a climbing vine to the tank but I still feel terrible about the whole habitat.

    I've seen you can make your own out of an old dresser but I don't understand how the wood wouldn't become water damaged and danger for him do to the need for humidity?

    Also, I've read that having him as a pet and not trimming his claws can lead to broken toes or broken legs, but I'm concerned about hurting him as I'm not certain about his age and I don't want to traumatized him.

    I've also noticed some behavior that comes off as odd to me, but I don't know shitake mushrooms so.. is it normal for iguanas to defecate on their hideboxes? Or fall asleep on their food bowls? Or seem to.. this is gunna sound weird.. be afraid of heights? He doesn't like climbing on his vines, prefers to lounge around the bottom of the habitat. The couple times I've let him roam he's stuck to the ground and when I try to set him anywhere above ground leave he whips his tail, closes his eyes, and backs down the side of whatever's he's on till he's on the floor. Yesterday, I tried to set him on the arm of my couch and he ran across my arm and clung to my chest so hard I was bleeding. I had to pet him for 20 minutes for him to calm down enough that I feel like I was going to hurt him by detaching him. Can iguana's have anxiety or am I doing something terribly wrong here?

    I'll post some pictures in a few so y'all can dissect everything bit by bit and help me correct all the issues.

    Many thanks from me and Batman!
  2. Sionnach0610

    Sionnach0610 Member

    I didn't realize how long that was until I posted, sorry again! Lol
  3. Sionnach0610

    Sionnach0610 Member

  4. I'm not an "expert" yet, but I can help out a bit. My response might not be the most organized, but hopefully it's informative. First, the behavior you're describing with him sticking to the bottom of the cage is relatively normal for a new iguana. He's not confident with his surroundings yet and will need time to explore his enclosure on his own terms before he's comfortable climbing.
    I understand wanting to have him out because you're worried about him, but it is probably very stressful for him. You should try to allow him to acclimate to his new home before taking him out frequently for soaks and interaction.
    I'm not sure why Petco even allowed "Nimrod" to leave the store with that set up. Iguana's are tropical, not dessert reptiles. The little lights that come with it are nearly pointless; they provide very little heat. For now, you can put something in his tank to try to decrease the distance between the ground and the light so he has somewhere to bask. He needs a basking temp ranging around 90-100. You're doing good with the humidity it sounds like! I honestly would consider returning that desert set up they got you. It is also VERY important for him to have a uvb light... I can't stress that enough. It doesn't look like you have one... He needs uvb for proper calcium and d4 production. Speaking of which, he will eventually need supplements. I wouldn't even bother getting supplements until you have the uvb light though.
    Whoever gifted you that iguana is definitely a jerk.
    TamJam likes this.
  5. Also, if you get some substrate (such as coconut fiber) it'll help keep the humidity up and might make him a bit happier.
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Ok. First off that tank is way too small even for a baby. The minimum is a 55 gallon tank and that will only last a few months. You'd be better off going straight to an adult sized cage. You are looking at 3ft×4ftx6ft tall. We usually end up building our own as commercial cages that big, if you can find them, are ridiculously expensive. And all you need is a big wooden box with a glass front door. If you are not able to build it yourself talk to the local VoTech or cabinet maker.
    The wood will need to be sealed with several coats of polycrylic.
    The reason the ig is on the floor is that vine is too small for it to feel comfortable. Replace it with tree branches that are about the same diameter as the ig's body
    Kale is ok as a part of the diet but not as a sole item. Go with collard, mustard, and turnip greens.
    Most of the equipment that comes with those kits are trash. You need to replace the analog gauges with a good digital with a remote probe. The basking spot needs to be 90 to 95 degrees.
    There is an abundance of info here on green iguanas
    Green Iguana Care Sheet | Reptile Forums - Information
    TamJam likes this.
  7. Sionnach0610

    Sionnach0610 Member

    Thank you so much for the response! Is the UVB light the purple light? I leave that one on 24/7, and the regular white light on 13hrs a day. Do you think it's the bulb or the entire light fixture that's not strong enough?

    Nimrod is definately a total jerk!
  8. AmityReptiles

    AmityReptiles Well Established Member

    The purple light is likely a blacklight which is technically in the uv spectrum but it isn't a "uvb" that we are referring to. Blacklights are used for night time or supplemental heating, a uvb light is used for calcium absorption and overall health not heat. You will need a reptile specific uvb florescent tube with a fixture.
    As far as the light not being strong enough, the light fixture should be printed with a wattage rating, which in turn will tell you the maximum wattage bulb you can use in that light. The higher wattage bulb you use, the more heat. You can also raise the basking platform, and covering the top completely will allow you to maintain heat and humidity better. You don't want to put a higher wattage bulb in a light that isn't rated for it, as that can cause a fire. But unless there is a dimmer attached, all light fixtures are the same "strength".
    Sionnach0610 likes this.
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Look at the end of the tube. It should tell you what it is. Light purple tubes are usually growlights for plants and are not what you need. If the bulb is dark purple it's a blacklight for making things glow and definitely needs to come out.
    Sionnach0610 likes this.
  10. Sionnach0610

    Sionnach0610 Member

    Okay, for whatever reason I couldn't get back to this site for a few days, my computer kept throwing up a redirect error.

    Update: I've bought zoo meds Reptisun 5.0 UVB and their daylight heating bulb, and a 2'x2'x3' terrarium for now. I'm moving in the next few months so I don't want to set up a huge one and then tear it down.

    What the best way to decorate the inside for him? Is it better to keep the food and water up high or on the ground level?

    Is anyone familiar with using branches you find outdoors in the cage? I know you need to clean it and bake it but is there anything else I should look out for as far as type and quality of wood? Do I need to cut it off a tree or is something I find on the ground fine?
  11. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Food and water go on the ground. Trying to put it up high will just result in a big mess!
    I have always used branches from dead fall. I just visually inspected them for ants or rot and then have them a good scrubbing.
    Sionnach0610 likes this.
  12. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Oh and you do not want the lights on at night. Iguanas have a parietal "eye" on the top of their head which registers light shadow etc. 24 hours of light will disturb their sleep cycle.

    And unless you are on your own property, cutting a branch off of a live tree can get you arrested!
    Sionnach0610 likes this.
  13. TamJam

    TamJam Elite Member

    You are getting some great help and advice here!
    Lovely little iguana. All the best!
  14. Sionnach0610

    Sionnach0610 Member

    IMG_7609.JPG IMG_7610.JPG IMG_7612.JPG Update 2.0 - The Batcave:

    Thank everyone so much for all the help! I finally (mostly) finished his new set up Friday. The cage is 3ft tall, but sits on a 4ft tall dresser, and Batman seems to be love looking upon the peasants of his new kingdom from the vantage point of his new 7ft high throne lol!

    The only thing I still need to do is get more vines to wind together to make them thicker but he is happily climbing on them now, as well at the 3ft wooden rod I got from the craft store and wrapped in fake fauna that leads from bottom corner to top corner.

    I got a large corner feeding dish meant for rabbits as a water dish so he can soak whenever he wants and can easily get out. I'm probably paranoid but I was worried he wouldn't be able to get out of the reptile bathing dishes I found due to the depth, he's still so whittle lol.

    I also haven't figured out how to elevate his hidebox while keeping it stable, but he seems more interested in his hammock now.

    I have reptisun 5.0 uvb and 60 watt daylight reptile heating bulb (both zoomed) up top now, but I've kept the mini halogen day time bulb on the bottom side near his hidebox, it's a pretty big cage and we're going into winter so I figured keeping that low wattage bulb down there would just help keep his non-basking areas warm. I originally left out the red nighttime mini halogen heating light, but he wouldn't settle down that night until I secured it and turned it on, then he slept under it like a baby. Not really sure why my room stays in the mid-70s due to my cold nature, and I put my hand under that light for a few minutes and it really doesn't let off much heat, but whatever floats his boat I guess. Any objections to me using all four?

    Also, does anybody have an opinion or warnings about giving him a small scrap of fabric in his hammock as a blanket? In his original tank I followed the advise to get him closer to the low wattage lights by making a makeshift hammock out of an old fabric sorting box and I put an old tshirt in the bottom to make it shallower. He burrowed under it a lot and now in his hammock he occasionally spins in circles and noses at it like he did when he lifted the tshirt to get under. I feel like he misses it but I don't want to do anything potentially dangerous and I can't find much info on blanket burrow IN the actual enclosure just that it's common when roaming.

    Last question, I refused to pay the insane price they were asking for the flimsy plastic substrate pan that goes with the cage (it was half the price of the actual cage), so I used card board to make my own and covered it in one layer of aluminum foil to protect it from my fanatic misting. My reasoning was that I would help keep heat in too. I made sure that none of the lamps are anywhere near close enough to it to actually conduct heat and risk burns, and there's 2 inches of alfalfa substrate so I don't think he'll be able to make scratches in it to cut himself on. But if my common sense is failing me and I need to change it out for something else, I'm all ears y'all.
  15. Sionnach0610

    Sionnach0610 Member

    IMG_7611.JPG IMG_7605.JPG IMG_7606.JPG IMG_7607.JPG IMG_7608.JPG Update 2.1 - Batman:

    I originally wanted to keep this little guy because I didn't want to break my kids hearts and I didn't want burdened with the misfortune of being a returned animal at a chain pet store. I honestly thought, he's a lizard, the extent of our relationship is going to be me providing the required care and preventing him from trying to book it at every possible chance he got. I could not have been more wrong. Batman is the most rewarding pet I have ever had the pleasure of owning, and the fact that I can say that after 3 weeks is insane.

    I called Petco to try to find out more about the breeder but they said that was all handled on a corporate level and couldn't really tell me much. I don't need them to tell me that he had to have come from one heck of a breeder though because he is so beautiful and so docile.

    The first few days he was definately a little stressed but now he's running the household. He'll stand at the front of the cage and wack the sides with his tail and claw at the front when he wants out then the second I open the cage he jumps out and climb up my shirt to be pet. If I get distracted and stop petting him, he'll burrow under my hand and flick his tail around to remind me.

    If I sit on the couch with him, he'll walk around and investigate but he always ends up curling up to sleep on me, he doesn't seem at all interested in running off.

    I've occasionally taken him outside while it's still warm for some natural sunlight, and even then he's really calm. Yesterday the neighbor slammed his car door and scared him but he jump to my shirt and (sorry if tmi) hid in my cleavage instead of trying to get down.

    He enjoys daily bathes, I leave my hand hovering above the water so he can decide when he's done. He's usually in there for 15-20mins swimming around. He even sat still and spread his toes out for me when I trimmed his claws, didn't get upset at all.

    I try to limit his time out of his cage, because we're going into winter. He gets really mad if I ignore him calling for his personal taxi though. Once he realizes that I'm not coming to get him, he'll make eye contact and then turn his back on me, wait for me to go back to what I was doing, make a racket with his tail, make eye contact, and turn his back on me again. Sassy little thing.

    I don't know if I just got really lucky with a laid back Iguana or if the breeder already started getting him take, but I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth. I'm in love. He has so much personality and is so playful and cuddly.

    The only thing that seems to stress him out is my 3 year old daughter laughing, my dad hypothesized that he thinks he shrill voice is a bird. She adores him, but I've been keeping them apart for the most part for his sanity. Batman will let her pet him, but the second she talks or laughs, he runs back to me. Any advice on this front?

    Also I read that any tail swishing means agitation. Sometimes with I pet him he'll start swishes his full tail in a wide sweep very slowly, so I'll stop and move my hand away. He stops swishing his tail, shoves his head under my hand, and his tail starts up again when I resume petting. Anybody know what that means?

    Also can anyone help me figure out a estimated age so I don't sound like a total moron when I schedule his first vet visit? Petco said 8 weeks but he doesn't act like a baby, if I didn't know how big they got I'd say he was older since he's so chill. From the tip of his nose to the base of his tail he's about 7.5 inches, I don't have a measuring tape and was using a ruler so I don't know exactly how long his tail is but it was way longer than my 12in ruler.

    Thanks again y'all!

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