How to Find a Lost Iguana?

JUST LIKE THAT!  You turn your back and your baby is gone and you’ll never know how hard it could be to find him until he is disappeared from view.  Iguanas naturally just blend into their environment so well, and they instinctively know how to hide, right in plain sight.  Yes, you can be looking right at him and if your eye is not trained, you’ll miss him. I can tell you one thing, he can see you, his eyes are on you.

WATCH, LISTEN, OBSERVE, it is what iguanas do and it will be what you will need to do for days, even weeks, dare I say months?

I have assisted many in finding their iguana.  I was even on the evening news once, helping to find an autistic child’s best friend, Fred.  And yes, with the help of his entire 8th grade class, we found Fred safe and sound a few houses away.

Don’t spare a moment, put a flyer on your neighbor’s doorsteps and on a telephone pole that everyone can see coming and going. Make sure people know and if they see him, who to call.

THINK LIKE AN IGUANA, this is what you need to do.

For a more knowledgeable, older iguana, the first thing on the list is to explore the area to taste and find new food. If confined to an outdoor cage, they have been looking at the yard, staring at those delicious looking treats out of their reach.  They will be looking for flowers and delicate greens. Look for trampled leaves and half eaten vegetation.

THINK ABOUT THEIR PERSONALITY, happy, sad, adventurous, outgoing, shy, lonely, what will motivate them, put yourself in their shoes, what would you want to do first?

Are they usually confined and not happy with their “territory”?  Have they been forced to be in a  small area for a very long time? (SHAME ON YOU!  Give up your iguana if you cannot care for it properly and give it love and attention) A confined iguana is more timid and unsure, and most will limit its travels to a smaller area. They will be more likely to hide in order to escape and will have the patience of a saint in order to avoid being returned to the life they had worked so long to escape from.

Read more on Iguana behavior & its meaning.

Are they brave and inquisitive?  Have they been outside before?  Are they content and happy with their life?

If they have, they will be more confident, most probably they will climb high and be more adventurous, exploring the yard and possibly the neighbors as well. They will be looking up, trying to find a tree that is to their liking.  They will be looking at fences to climb up and over, so look for claw marks all the way around.

In the day they may stay at the top of a tree. Many iguanas go up a tree and then either find that they are unsure on how to come down, or maybe they just like it up there, I really can’t say. So they stay up there for a very long time, going without food and water, just content to be free and watching life go by.

At night, they find shelter within the branches. His weight will bend the branch and with the wind blows it will move less than the others, so keep that in mind as you walk the neighborhood. Think: “Is the tree comfortable? Are the limbs big enough to rest on without effort?”

The times an iguana moves on a normal day is about 10 am when it begins to warm and he seeks sun, 2 pm when he becomes warm enough to look for food to eat, and 4 pm when he seeks nighttime shelter.  Those times should be adjusted to the weather and length of days, but you get the idea, THINK LIKE AN IGUANA.

Keep in mind that an iguana is cold blooded, a cold iguana doesn’t move.  So the temperature plays a crucial role in his well being.   So as the sun rises and he begins to warm, he will seek out the sunshine, either moving to the top of a tree or finding a  patio, rocks, or asphalt.  This will be the time to hang out, sit still, watch and listen for rustling.

Young iguanas are more fearful and inexperienced at finding food. Freedom is wonderful, but when they don’t get fed, they really don’t know how to forage yet.  They make less movement in the trees and bushes, some go high, some stay low, once in the yard they will be very hard to spot. If you lost a small baby or juvenile, they are the most difficult to find and especially to catch. It will take a lot of time and patience, but you can do it.

The best way to find them is to have them find you.  Running your fountain or pond, making it splash with water noise will definitely get his attention, and putting out food, colorful and fragrant cantaloupe will tempt them. 

Be present in the yard. Sing and call sweetly to him, mornings, afternoons, and especially in the evenings. In about a week, he will be desperate for food and water and should be looking for food. Hang out when the sun warms up about 10 am – 2 pm and you will be more likely to find them foraging around.

If you are lucky you will spot them on a  contrasting color, like warming on the pavement, or on a bare branch.

Read more on How to find lost iguana.

Now, you see him!  Just how do you catch a fast iggie? I find the best way is not to approach him,  just watch him from a distance. Watch and wait to see where he goes. Once you think he is has found a “resting” spot,  go search out the area. 

Better to have friends with you, more eyes to search and watch the perimeter the better.  Carefully comb the area, looking in branches that would be the right size for his little body.  If you find him and he is hard to get to, consider waiting it out until the sun goes down and the temperature drops.

Iguanas don’t see well in low light and are calmer to catch at night and in the early dawn. It is also easier to catch an iguana in a tree than on the ground.

My Babe was a male iguana.  I believe the males more territorial. Once they have explored their territory, marked it, and are completely happy with calling it their own, they are more likely to stay and protect it.

At first, I  let Babe explore his territory, spending an hour a day to let him roam free under my watchful eye, getting down on his level, laying on the ground, seeing the world thru his eyes.  At first, he would get away from me and the words “Babe’s missing again” became a mantra. 

A search of each square foot of the house and the yard was done repeatedly. But after some time, he became trustworthy. By the time he was 5 i could leave him out all day and he would stay in his territory. That is the key, letting them “claim” their territory. 

A territory to protect, to guard, male iguanas take the task to heart, it is what they do, it is their nature. Babe had two territories, one in my house in San Diego and one in my parent’s house in Reno.

Reno yard has 1/3 of an acre.  He knew all “his favorite spots” all the ways in and out of the house in both locations.  He played all day and came in on his own at night, though sometimes, on warm summer nights, he preferred camping out.  But I could never sleep without my” Babe” by my side, so camping out was not allowed!

Gaining the trust of an adult iguana and having a true bond of love and respect is the key to allowing them the freedom they deserve. It takes time, a lot of time, and patience, so much patience. 

Owning an iguana has to be a labor of love.  Iguanas are not something that you can just put in an enclosure and feed. They have dreams and desires and naturally want to explore and have fun, just like we do. 

Once given proper instruction and training, they will be able to flourish in the sun, at times hiding in the bushes and difficult to find, but still in their territory, just hanging out as lizards do. Iguanas don’t seem to have a sense of humor, but when it came to playing hide and seek, Babe seemed to enjoy my antics of searching for him, I think he found it amusing and yes, funny, as he would watch me search him out,  It think it fed his lizard ego, watching me spending hours of my time, devoted to finding him.

Read more on Training iguana.

I am the editor-in-chief at MyPetReptiles.com. I have been a reptile enthusiast for over a decade, and during this time I have kept and bred a variety of different reptiles such as bearded dragons, geckos, and chameleons. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience with others to help them provide the best care possible for their pet reptiles.

2 thoughts on “How to Find a Lost Iguana?”

  1. I lost one of my babies. Although he’s flighty, he never tries to escape. He will go to the back of his enclosure while I move stuff around. I had my hand in the enclosure trying to clean. Then he began bouncing off the walls and ran at me. Ran past me and on the ground. He ran between two bags on the floor. I almost caught him. but he kept going. I pulled out the bags and didn’t see him anywhere. I thought he might have gone into the closet. I still have not been able to find him. 🙁

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