The first thing that any prospective spiny-tailed iguana owner needs is an iguana cage. This you will want set up properly before bringing an iguana home as a pet. The iguana is already going to be somewhat distressed moving from one home to another, so the last thing you want to do is cause more stress by having no place to put him while you set up your tank or build an enclosure.
Iguanas need lots of room. That’s why many older pet iguanas become roamers, being given full run of the house. In the wild, iguanas spend most of their time in trees. This gives them a defense again predators, whether in the air or on the ground. They like trees above water and when threatened, can jump into the water and swim away. Spiny-Tailed Iguanas can also drop onto the ground and run away, from a height anywhere from twenty to forty feet. Likewise, if they are facing a predator on the ground, iguanas can climb a tree to escape danger.
One of the things this behavior reveals about an iguana cage or enclosure is that it must be very large and roomy, and have plenty of overhead climbing space. If you start out with a baby iguana who is nine to twelve inches, you can get by to start with an aquarium that holds around thirty gallons of water. Many people believe that an iguana will not grow larger than his cage. This is simply not true. An iguana is going to grow to be between four and seven feet no matter what.
In the beginning, you can make do with a 29-30 gallon aquarium, some limbs for branches, a basking area, a sleeping area, an eating area, a bowl for water, a heating pad or lamp (no hot rocks–they get too hot!), UV and fluorescent lighting, and lots of greens, other veggies and fruit to make his daily salads. That’s around $20 for your spiny-tailed iguana and $200-$300 in initial equipment.
During the time the baby iguana is adjusting himself to you and his new home, it’s time to start planning his next iguana cage. After all, in one year your pet iguana will be around three feet long and will definitely need more than his 30-gallon aquarium. It’s best if you can buy or build him his permanent home at this time. That needs to be in the range of ten feet long and eight feet high.
Even if you decide to let your spiny-tailed iguana roam, you still have plenty of work to do. The house needs to be made iguana-proof in the same way you would make it child-proof or puppy-proof. That means getting out of his area anything that can harm or injure an iguana. It also means making sure he can’t get out of the windows. Every year, reptile rescue organizations are called out to find and save iguanas who have pushed their way out of screen windows.
Having an iguana as a pet can be a rewarding experience both for you and your iguana. Just make sure to do a little research before getting one, and have his new spiny-tailed iguana cage ready for his arrival.