Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last update January 1, 2014

Green Iguana Care Collection

But if you tame me, then we shall need each other.
To me, you will be unique in all the world.
To you, I will be unique in all the world...
You will become responsible forever
for what you have tamed...

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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About Melissa Kaplan

Cover Image: Iguanas for Dummies.  Book written by Melissa Kaplan.
by Melissa Kaplan

Advance Care Directives
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Blue Iguana photo by John Binns @

The Blue Iguana Recovery Fund helps fund ongoing conservation efforts in breeding-for-release, community education, and habitat conservation programs in the Cayman Islands for the endangered Cyclura lewisi. Help support their work by making direct donations, or buy one of their new King Blue Bobbleheads!

Also, check out a day in the life of a volunteer at the BIR facility doing noosing, measuring, behavior observations and more.

The Advanced IguanaMail list was disappeared by Yahoo Groups in late June 2006. The moderators have created a new list to replace it, AdvancedIguanaCare (AIC). As with the old AIML, the AIC is for advanced health care discussions beyond those covered in the more basic IguanaMail List (IML). Both lists require members to have already done their reading on iguana care, health and behavior, such as my ICFS article and articles here in my Green Iguana page and in the Captivity Issues, Health, and Behavior pages, before posting questions.


If you are looking for a simple, quick, all-inclusive article on green iguana care on one page or less, you won't find it here.

You won't find it anywhere because there is no such thing, not if your intent is to take care of your iguana properly.

My Iguana Care, Feeding, and Socialization (ICFS) article provides the basics on iguanas, where they come from, how they act, and how to get them set up and started eating right. It also goes into the first steps involved with taming and socializing, and why all new igs, regardless of age, need to see your reptile vet...and why just any vet won't do.

The other articles here in my Iguana Care Collection expand and build on the ICFS information. You will also find many articles in my Herp Care Collection that apply to green iguanas, especially in the areas of behavior, health, conservation, and captivity-related and human health issues.

There is a lot to read, to learn, and to absorb. Iguanas are not for everyone. They are, sadly, not for the too many people who get them only to turn around and dump them because they were completely unprepared for what iguana keeping involves.

If you aren't up to all the reading that needs to be done to learn to care for iguanas properly, then iguanas aren't for you. If you are not ready to accomodate all the intrustions keeping an iguana will make into your life (and finances), then iguanas aren't for you.

Still reading? Good. You will find that I am a strong believer in people learning whether or not a particular type and species of reptile is the right choice for them before they actually get the reptile.

Iguanas are difficult, frustrating, complicated, complex--and potentially dangerous. If you aren't starting to feel like perhaps you've made the wrong choice when considering keeping an iguana, then you haven't been paying attention!

Seriously, though: do the reading. You can join the IML and talk to people before you get an iguana. If you do all that, and still feel an iguana is right for you--rather, that you are right for an iguana--then you both will have a much better chance at a long, healthy, successful relationship.

Make yourself comfortable,'ve only just begun!


Page Index
Before you get an iguana
Basic Care Information, Online & Off
Iguana Basics
Breeding & Reproduction
Captive Environment
Care & Maintenance
Diet: Food, Feeding & Supplementation
Growth & Development
Keeper-Iguana Issues
Natural History & Conservation
One Page Caresheets
More Items of Interest
Reprint Rights & Permission


Before you get an iguana...
Iguanas are still the #1 dumped reptile in the US and, increasingly, around the world. If, after reading about what it takes to are for an iguana properly, you realize that you can't provide all that is required, that's okay--so long as you don't get an iguana!. It may not be the right time in your life for the commitment a green iguana demands. There may be another reptile, or another kind of pet, that will be a better match for you. While keeping any animal as a pet requires a certain amount of learning and long term commitment, green and other types of iguanas demand more than most other species.

If you haven't been involved in reptile rescue, you most likely will not understand why I am so dogmatic you on about finding out whether an iguana is the right choice for you--or not. To help you understand where I and other rescuers and herp educators are coming from, please read the following:

So, you think you want a reptile?
How To Kill An Iguana
The Grim Reality: Unwanted reptiles
College Students Speaks Out About Iguana Ownership


Basic Care Information

Melissa Kaplan's Iguana Care Feeding & Socialization
Adam Britton's Wong's Green Heaven
Jennifer Swofford's Iguana Manual

Books In Print
Iguanas for Dummies by Melissa Kaplan
Green Iguana: The Ultimate Iguana Owner's Manual byJim Hatfield III
Green Iguana Bibliography and Suggested Reading

Video: Captive Care of the Green Iguana (Britton & Kaplan)
Iguana Videos Review

If, after all your reading, you still decide to get a green iguana
Adopt one from a herp society or rescue
Wild-Caught vs. Farmed vs. Captive-Bred Iguanas
Picking A Healthy Iguana


Iguana Basics
Diagram of Green Iguana Mouth
Green Iguana Anatomy Resources
Iguana Teeth
Reptile Vision
Rostral Horns
Skin Color
Journal Abstracts: Visual And Chemical Reception: Iguana iguana


Behavior (see also Herp Behavior)
Change-Related Stress
Female Iguanas -- Are They More Difficult to Tame?
Head Bobbing
Introducing & Housing Multiple Iguanas: Issues and Concerns
Interpreting Non-Breeding Iguana Behaviors
Journal Abstracts: Circadian Rhythm and Thermoregulation in Reptiles
Lizard Tough Guys
Lizards Have Personalites Too, Study Finds
Moving, Vacation and Boarding Stress in Green Iguanas
Size Doesn't Matter
Sunlight and Aggressive Behavior
Vacations and Your Reptiles


Hormone Issues
Hormone Abnormalities as a Factor in Male Green Iguana Aggression
Testosterone, Aggression and Green Iguanas
Testosterone Rules


Breeding and Reproduction
Further Thoughts On Spaying and Neutering...
Glossary of Reptile Reproduction Terms
Iguana Breeding Season Basics
Iguana Femoral Pores
Iguana Ovaries and Testes
Sexing Iguanas

Dystocia (Egg-binding)
Egging and Incubation
Reproductive Disorders of the Female Reptile
To Spay or Not To Spay
The Use of Hormone Antagonists to Inhibit Reproduction in the Lizard, Eublepharis macularius

Dealing with Iguana Breeding Aggression
LuvSocks for Male Green Iguanas
Male Iguanas in Season and Human Females
Neutering Green Iguanas
Seminal Plugs/Secretions
Tough Love, or Attigtude Adjustment

Practical, Moral, and Ethical Issues Related To Reproduction
Captive Bred Iguanids
Fecal Innoculation
The Grim Reality
Akira Yamanouchi's Iguana Page


Captive Environment (see also Herp Captivity)
Basic Iguana Cage Design Problems
Indoor and Outdoor Enclosure Designs (Caging)
Finding Lost Iguanas
Housing Multiple Iguanas: Issues and Concerns
Iguanas and Other Family Pets
Reptile Enclosures: Size, Dimension, and Lifestyle
Setting Up Free-Roaming Iguanas

Why You Should Not Leave Your Iguana Unsecured Outside


Care and Maintenance (see also Herp Clean/Disinfect)
Bathing and Swimming: Not Just A Bathroom Activity
Claw Trimming - Britton
Claw Trimming - Kaplan
Reptile Skin Shedding
Treating Ripped-out Claws


Diet: Food, Feeding, and Supplementation
The articles and resources below expand on the information in the ICFS article.
Adaptations to Herbivory in Iguanine Lizards
Additional Notes On Herbivory In Iguana iguana
Alfalfa: Nutritional Contribution in the "MK Salad"
Alfalfa and Bean Sprouts
Animal Protein - Britton
Animal Protein - Kaplan
Calcium Oxalate Content of Common Iguana Foods
Commercial Foods/Diets
Green Iguana Diet: Not just a matter of calcium:phosphorous ratios
"MK Salad": A Quick Recipe
"MK Salad " - Nutrition Analysis
"MK Salad" - An Illustrated Reference
Overfeeding Iguanas
Overview of Digestion in Green Iguanas and Other Herbivorous Lizard Species
Nutrient Composition Tables
Picky Eaters: How not to let yourself be trained by your iguana
Thiamine Supplementation
Vegetable and Fruit Names
Vitamin Supplementation
What Did Swanson Really Say?
What Size Should the Salad Pieces Be?
You Say Yuca, I Say Yucca...
Iguana Food For People (yes, you can eat those greens, too...)


Growth and Development
Determining Iguana Age and Sizes
What Is Intelligence?


Health (see also Herp Health)
If your herp is bleeding, paralyzed, or has abnormal swellings on any part of its body, or has bone fragments poking through its skin (or its shell is cracked), do not post a message or send an email: get your pet to a herp vet right away.
Black Spots on Skin
Blackening Skin/Blackening Skin Syndrome/Vesicular Dermatitis
Calcium Metabolism and Metabolic Bone Disease
Characterization of the Renal-Portal System
Clinical Pathology in Green Iguanas and Other Herps
Clinician's Approach to Kidney Disease in Lizards
Cloacal and Hemipenal Prolapse
Constipation and Diarrhea in Iguanas
Coprophagy (Feces Eating)
Crusty Deposits Around Mouth
Dry Gangrene of Tail and Toes
Effects of Hemolysis on Plasma Electrolyte, Chemistry Values
Emaciation (Starvation) Protocol
Fecal Innoculation
Feces and Urates
Fluids and Fluid Therapy in Reptiles
How can you tell if a nonresponsive reptile is alive?
Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia in Reptiles
Hypothermia in Iguanas and Other Reptiles
Hypothyroidism in Green Iguanas
Idiosyncrasies of Vitamin D Metabolism in the Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)
Iguanid Herpesvirus (IgHV-1)
Kidney Failure (and Iguana Kidney Disease: Personal Perspective)
Metabolic Bone Disease: Identification and Treatment
Myoclonic and Other Spasms in Iguanas
Pros and Cons of Prolonged Probiotic Use In Iguanas
Plasma concentration of ionized calcium in healthy iguanas
Reptile Mites
Signs of Illness & Stress
Tail Breaks and Drops
Tail, Limb and Digit Autotomy
Tetany in Reptiles
Ulcerative Stomatitis ("Mouth Rot")


Keeper-Iguana Issues
Allergy To Iguanas
Dealing with Iguana Bites
Iguana Bites Dog
Iguanas: They're ornery, exotic - and often a real pain
Lizards do really learn to recognize people
Moving Your Iguana
Moving and Shipping Reptiles
Pheromones in Humans: Myth or Reality?
Playing With Your Iguana


Iguana Natural History and Conservation
(See also Conservation and Herpetology)
Classification of Green Iguanas
Diet of a Generalized Folivore, Iguana iguana, in Panama
Green Iguana: Conservation and Consumption
Green Iguana Dewlaps
Iguana Salad For Humans
Iguana: Survival of the Tastiest
Iguana Park: Pro Iguana Verde Foundation
Kidnapping males could save species
Plants Consumed by Iguanas in the Wild
Raise and Eat Your Own Iguanas
Why Call Them "Giant Green Iguanas"?
Optimal Foraging of a Herbivorous Lizard, the Green Iguana in a Seasonal Environment
The Ecological Consequences Of Habitat And Microhabitat Use In Lizards: A Review


More Information of Interest
Alfalfa Sprouts: Health Food or Health Risk?
Alfalfa Sprout Safety: FDA Warns High-Risk Groups: Don't Eat Sprouts
Are Sprouts Safe To Eat?
The Amazin' Shrinkin' Iguanas of the Galapágos
Calculating the Cost of Electricity
Carnival Iguanas
Easter Igs
Enclosure Materials Suppliers
Herp Care Products Translations and Equivalencies
Iguanas Bite The Hands That Feed Them
Iguana Sitters List
Imagine: A Visualization Exercise
National Animal Poison Control Center
Pet Travel Agents Book Any Beast
Reptile Give-Aways at Fairs
Reptile First Aid/Wound Management
HerpNutrition's Quantum Series Food Mixes
The Facts About Alfalfa: Anatomy of a Non-Controversy

The Iguana Diet "Wars": What if they started a war and nobody came?
UV-lamps for terrariums: Their spectral characteristics and efficiency in promoting vitamin D3 synthesis by UVB irradiation


One-Page Iguana Care Handout
Giant Green Iguana Information & Care (PDF)


How Long Does It Take To Tame A Green Iguana? (Survey and Results)


Rights & Permissions
I reserve all rights to my work.

Due to my life having to revolve around the limitations of ongoing illness, it is extremely difficult for me to do what I need to for myself and for my reptiles on a daily basis. If you have questions, please consider joining the Iguanas Mailing List (IML) where you will find many knowledgeable, helpful people who have been through what you are going through with their own iguanas.  

Need to update a veterinary or herp society/rescue listing?

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