Iguana Diseases and Disorders (Complete List)

The following is a list of most common diseases found in iguanas

Burns

Cause:

The most common cause is the use of ‘hot rocks’. An iguana will seek out the warmest thing and sit on it for hours. They do not have the nervous system to tell them that what they are on is too hot.

Prevention:

The inside temperature in the cage should be warm enough so iguanas do not need a heat rock. Keep all lights and basking lamps outside the enclosure.

Treatments:

Slight burns will heal themselves, but they will leave scars. More serious burns need the immediate attention of a veterinarian.

Lacerations

Cause:

Anything sharp inside your cage or where your pet walks including exposed wire ends on the cage screen. Also, if his claws are too long it can accidentally harm himself.

Prevention:

Thoroughly inspect where you allow your iguana to roam. You can also use plastic screening for your enclosure.

Treatments:

Small cuts can be doused with clean water to cleanse the wound. Any deep cuts need to be addressed by a veterarian. Do not use band aids or any adhesive tape.

Nose Rubbing

Cause:

The environment your pet lives in is unsuitable. It may be too small, too hot, or too cold. Whatever is causing your iguana to pace back and forth rubbing his nose on the wire screening or glass needs to be addressed. Excessive nose rubbing can cause deformities and skin damage that might require surgery to repair.

Prevention:

Good knowledge of your pet is essential. The temperature, humidity, and lighting is needed. You can also let your pet roam around larger areas for part of the day. A short term prevention is using plastic screening around the cage so the rubbing will cause minimal damage, but your little lizard is unhappy with its surroundings.

Treatments:

If you notice swelling and abrasions are occuring because of nose rubbing, wash the abrasion and coat it with antibiotic ointment. If the swelling does not heal in a few days, consult a veterinarian.

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

Cause:

MBD is caused by overall improper care of an iguana. An iguana needs the right nutrients, temperature, and light. A lack of any and all of these can cause MBD.

Symptoms:

Since MBD is defined as a lack of calcium, there are distinct signs of the disease. Calcium plays a major role in the proper development of strong bones along with the functions of the intestinal tract. The first signs is a rubbery jaw, where the bones can be pinched together. Other bones will follow with broken limbs, tails, or spinal deformities. These bones may also swell, which is the body’s attempt to compensate for the lack of calcium.

Prevention:

All I can say in regards to prevention is good and thorough knowledge of your pet, and understand everything it needs. Metabolic bone disease is the easiest to prevent if you are educated.

Treatments:

Although the symptoms and prevention is easy, MBD must be dealt with professionally. If left untreated, this disease is fatal.

Kidney Disease

Cause:

  • External Parasites – Ticks and Mites
  • Internal Parasites – Worms

Feces is the main transport mechanism for parasites. The infected lizard may have gotten them in the beginning from the iguana farm, or from the pet store if housed with other iguanas.

Symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite Reduced daily activity or lethargy
  • Mucus in the feces
  • Worms visible in the feces
  • More frequent defecation

Prevention:

Have a fecal sample along with your iguana’s yearly checkup. Also, remove any feces from the cage and keep it clean.

Treatments:

Once you bring the sample to your vet, they can tell you exactly what kind of worm your iguana has. Then, medication can be given to de-worm, which is usually given by the mouth for a few week span.

Respiratory Problems

Cause:

  • Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures
  • An excessively humid habitat with too little ventilation
  • An excessively dry habitat

Symptoms:

  • Rapid or labored breathing
  • Mouth open for extended periods of time
  • Excessive mucus
  • Foamy discharge from nose
  • Wheezing
  • Reduced normal activity
  • Decreased or no eating

Prevention:

Proper humidity and temperature is a must. Be careful when your iguana is in an aquarium with constantly high humidity without any ventilation. A cage with wire screening on one or more sides is your best housing option.

Treatments:

Raise to habitat temperature if it is too low. (80-95 degrees)

See your veterinarian, they can culture any discharge and provide treatment. Be sure to have water available for your pet to drink. Proper hydration is essential.

It is extremely important to have your pets checked yearly. This includes a stool sample. If your lizard does not appear to be ok have him checked immediately along with blood samples and xrays. It’s a natural defense for animals to hide their symptoms so not be alert predators they are vulnerable. Iguanas are masters at this skill. Yearly exams can significantly reduce the risk of finding your iguana sick, and too late to help him.

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.

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