Creating the right habitat is vital for keeping iguanas happy and healthy. Below are things that you will need to properly setup iguana cage.
The vivarium should be at least twice as long as the iguana, and as tall as possible, to ensure the iguana has plenty of room to move around, and to get exercise. Iggy and Pop’s vivarium is 8 feet tall (at the highest end), by 7 feet wide, and 2.5 feet deep. The shallow end is about 3 feet high.
Ideally, the vivarium should be placed near to an open window, which would allow the iguanas to get the benefit of natural sunlight. However, the important ultraviolet rays from the sun will NOT penetrate glass. You should also bear in mind where the vivarium will be located; iguanas do not like to be disturbed by Aerosmith, cats, noisy children, Eastenders, etc.
Iggy and Pop’s vivarium was built out of the wood into the alcove under the stairs in the living room, with two glass doors. Glass is generally much nicer to look at than wire mesh, although we regularly have to wipe the snot off! Some iguanas do have difficulty grasping the concept of glass, and can bump noses trying to “walk through it”, but more injuries are caused by its rubbing noses on it, or hurting toenails when climbing the mesh.
Daytime Heating and Lighting
During the day, Iggy and Pop get all the heat and light they need from three green basking lamps and two ultraviolet tubes. These are on for 13 hours every day, and are on a thermostat which keeps the ambient temperature of the vivarium at around 85 degrees F.
Ultravoilet (UV) Light
Ultravoilet light is very important in the vivarium. UVA and B light is important for the production of vitamin D, which helps iguanas to digest calcium. If iguanas do not have access to plenty of sunlight each day, they will need artificial ultraviolet light in the vivarium, otherwise they WILL develop Metabolic Bone Disease – a very serious and life-threatening disease caused by a lack of, or inability to digest calcium. We put two “Repti-Sun” iguana lights (made by ZooMed) with 5% UV light across the ceiling of the vivarium. We alternately replace one of these tubes every six months, as the UV light actually runs out after 12 months.
Iggy and Pop also have three green basking (or spot) lamps above their basking logs. These are fixed about a foot above each log, and keep these areas at 90-95 degrees F. Basking lamps help the iguanas get extra warmth when they need it – usually after feeding when the heat helps them to digest their food.
Iggy and Pop’s lights go off completely at 11.00pm, as they sleep better in the dark. To prevent the vivarium getting cold, we put in a ceramic heater on a thermostat which keeps the nightime temperature at 75 degrees F. The heater only works when the lights are off. For safety, we built a mesh guard around the heater so Iggy and Pop cannot climb or sit on it, as this could burn them.
The vivarium should have adequate ventilation to allow the air to circulate. With wire cages this isn’t a problem. Glass vivariums, however, should have an opening or air vent. Iggy and Pop’s viv has a small vent at the very top , which is covered with a plastic mesh and porous foam to prevent the heat from escaping.
Humidity can be important as iguanas take in moisture through their skin – particularly important when they are shedding. The humidity of the enclosure should be at least 60% (humidity indicators can be bought from most pet shops.). To achieve this, we place a couple of bowls of water in the viv every day. The water evaporates in the heat, and raises the humidity. We also mist the vivarium at least once a day using an ordinary plant mister.
There are a number of materials which can be used as a substrate for the enclosure. We use Bark chip, mainly because it looks nice, is cheap and easy to clean. Iggy and Pop like it too, as they can dig in it, bury their food in it, and throw it all over the carpet.
Branches are extremely important, as climbing’s what iggies do best. Ideally, there should be one or two long branches across the vivarium for climbing, and a branch or log under the basking spots. Make sure the branches are wide enough for the iguana to sit or lie on. Please note: changes in the iguana’s territory can be distressing, so don’t change the branches too often.