Green Iguana Habitat, Cage Housing & Environment

Table of Contents


An all-glass aquarium is both convenient and practical for your green iguana. However, because of the rapid growth experienced in iguanas, do not start off with anything too small. Let your pet grow into his cage, then purchase larger cages as he develops. Hatchlings should start off in nothing smaller than a 29 gallon aquarium. A screen lid that fits tightly will provide adequate coverage. As your iguana grows, you may want to investigate purchasing a custom made enclosure made of wood and glass or wood and Plexiglas. Completely clean your tank at least once a week.

What’s that white stuff all over the walls of the cage? Don’t panic! It’s just salt! Green iguanas have salt glands in their nasal passages that allow them to sneeze out excess salt. The higher the salt content in the diet, the more discharge salt spray for you to clean! If you’re really feeding high salt, look for little rims of crystallized salt around the nostrils!


Iguanas are basically clean animals. Figure out the “popular” spot for pooping and use a small container of sand or a strip of newspaper in that area for easy cleaning. The rest of the cage bottom can be covered with reptile bark (pet shop item), sphagnum moss, orchid bark, or cypress mulch. All of these substrates are highly absorbent and decorative. The only drawback to these are they can harbor parasites and are difficult to clean. Another highly recommended bedding for green iguanas is alfalfa pellets or rabbit pellets. At times of unexpected hunger, your iguana can and will safely ingest these pellets. Other people choose to line the bottom of the cage with Astroturf. Whatever you choose, make sure you clean the cage on a regular basis!

Iguanas are arboreal. They spend most of their wild lives in trees. Make sure you make his cage interesting by providing some sort of climbing branches. Many iguana owners let their larger iguanas out of the cage regularly. They’re usually found up on a window ledge sunning themselves.

Heat Source

A properly maintained vivarium will provide your iguana with several different climates necessary for maintaining a healthy pet. A tank should always include a hot rock, which may be purchased at any pet store. Your iguana will use this warm spot to lay on, which will in turn help him to properly digest his food. Your iguana needs to be able to raise his body temperature to a minimum of 88° F in order for his body to be able to extract and digest nutrients from his high fiber diet. A “spot light” or “basking light” should be used during the day to provide additional heat. This light will not only help to turn existing water into much needed humidity, but it will also give your green iguana a source for “sunning” himself and keeping warm. If the spot light is over a piece of slate rock, then a homemade heat rock has just been created. HEAT IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE LIFE OF COLD-BLOODED ANIMALS! Up to 85-90° F during the day and 70-80 ° F at night. You may use a regular household light bulb or a black light as the heat producer. At nighttime, you may use a ceramic heat emitter or black bulb to provide the heat without the bright light. Both may be purchased at most pet shops.


Your iguana will unknowingly lay against the bulb to the point of being severely burned! Since some hot rocks can get up to 110° F, you will want to cover it with a thin piece of slate rock to prevent direct contact by the iguana. Under the tank heating pads or heat tape may be more practical.

The Vita-Lite – The Vita-Lite is an absolute necessity for most, not all, reptiles. Your green iguana MUST have one! The rule of thumb: If your reptile’s diet consists primarily of plant matter, then provide him with a Vita-Lite! In the wild, your iguana uses the UV rays of natural sunlight to synthesize Vitamin D3, which is necessary for the absorption of calcium. The Vita-Lite provides the UV rays to convert Vitamin D into Vitamin D3. This is a full-spectrum light which cannot be substituted with fluorescent bulbs.

Be sure to provide your iguana with some climbing branches. This is particularly necessary for the green iguana to get higher up and closer to the full-spectrum light and heat source. In addition, it makes your vivarium even more attractive.

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