Pet Iguana

Make a long story short, a friend of mine had a pet iguana…it just died recently. It sorta came as a shock and I was wondering if I could shed any insight onto what happened, therefore I’ll ask you guys. So, here’s what I know.

It was I guess your generic pet iguana, nothing exotic if you know what I mean.
She fed it romaine lettuce and gave it purified water (Which I’ll get to later). The cage was 6 foot by 4 foot and he had all his crap in there. The temperature was in the 90’s for the most part. I was told that around the end he started to look a little pale, I think they told me about 2 days before he died. He was also “sluggish” (I never saw the damn thing move anyways, but whatever) according to them. He was at the time 4 years old (I was under the impression they got a lot older, but maybe I’m wrong.) She had him for a good year or so before she moved down here, so whatever she was doing before must have been ok.

Now to the deal with the water. When I first met her, she told me she had to give George (the iguana) purified water because of crap that’s in normal tap water. We live in South Florida and get our water from the Biscayne Aquifer (if that helps). Recently she had family down and instead of giving him the purified water, they gave it regular tap water…he died shortly thereafter. Could that have been the cause? Is there any relation between iguana health and water purity?

I think I included all the details, but if anybody has any experience with iguanas or maybe even had the same situation happen to them, I’d like to know so in the future (she wants another iguana) this can be avoided. Thanks for any help in advance.

Ask Patty or Selma…Jub Jub!!

Well, if all this animal ate was romaine, that might be your problem right there. A diet of nothing but romaine will eventually cause nutritional deficiencies and greatly shorten lifespans.

I’s be inclined to doubt it was the tap water alone ( unless it was really nasty ). Distilled water is preferred when misting, but more I think to prevent deposits from dirtying up everything. By the way that’s another issue - improperly hydrated iguanas can develop kidney problems. They need high humidity and a healthy iguana will almost never drink from their water bowl, but instead get the bulk of their water from the air ( and some from food ).

  • Tamerlane
  1. Iguana’s need a balanced diet. Romaine lettuce isn’t a balanced diet.

  2. Iguana’s need sunlight or a full spectrum artificial light (such as a vitalight) to metabolize calcium. They will fail to grow and eventually die with out it.

  3. Tap water should have been fine.

I am really surprised the thing lived as long as it did if they feed it only Romaine Lettuce. They should really research the animal more and how to care for it before they buy another one.

First of all, a diet of romaine lettuce isn’t very nutritious…the iguana should’ve been a more balanced diet of other vegetables and fruits.

Purified water is a good idea, thought tap is okay occasionally (after all, its good enough for most of us.)

90 deg temps are good, the cage was a bit undersized, but the biggie was all the animal’s filth: this must be cleaned out regularly.

Also, take it out ( in a harness) for exercise…give it something to climb, both for its limbs and mind. It WANTS to climb.

Lastly, iguanas are notorious for not displaying symptoms for illnesses…usually, when an iguana is noticably sick, its far past the point of no return.

Thank you all for responding.
After talking to her a little more earlier (before I read these replies) she fed it romaine lettuce, mustard greens and collard greens and the occasional mango. I don’t know if that still isn’t enough or not. I don’t know how big he was supposed to be at his age, but with tail and all I’d say he was maybe 3 feet or so? This cage was the biggest he had so far seeing as she acquired George from somebody who couldn’t keep him anymore and she didn’t really have any better place to put him, until she moved here and her father and I built the 6X4 cage. He was kept in a “Florida Room”, pretty much a room with a bunch of windows so he did get a lot of natural sunlight, but as far as his cage he had an incandescent bulb to supply the heat, as well as a couple hot rocks (but I don’t know if they were plugged in or not). I don’t know if she took him outdoors though…if she did, it was very little. She did mist him often though, I know that. Other than what I’ve already said, I think I’ve covered all the details. So by what I’ve supplied so far, do the above replies still seem accurate? Or shed any more insight onto what might have happened? Once again, thanx in advance.

No, that is not enough food. An Iguana needs a wide variety of different kinds of fruits and vegitables.

An incandescent bulb will not supply the kind of light an Iguana needs.

Really, I hate to harp on this but, if your friend is going to have a pet she should learn how to take care of it. Iguanas require a lot of special care and she should know all of the answers to these questions herself. She needs to buy a book or two about how to care for them if she is considering buying another one.

My daughter had a pet Iguana named “Cleo”
She was told to feed Cleo “Spring Water” Cleo was young when she got him (about a year old) he died for no apparent reason.
He was fine in the morning and dead in the afternoon.

Just chiming in on the food part. An ex of mine had an iguana. We’d go to the produce section of the grocery store and buy at least 12 different kinds of produce. I don’t remember the names of all them because I dont’ eat them. Anyways. He’d come home, chop them up, mix them up, boil them for 20 seconds, make little serving size patties of them and then freeze them. Each patty would be taken out the in the morning to defrost and be fed to his iguana. His iguana was the brightest green I’ve ever seen.

How to Kill an Iguana

For anyone who wants to actually keep and raise a healthy iguana (although why anyone would want the hellspawned, nasty, ill-tempered beasts that are menaces to society and should all be shipped directly back to Guatemala or Nicaragua (whence they were stolen) immediately, I don’t know), they should defintely get and read and follow:

Green Iguana: The Ultimate Owner’s Manual
James W. Hatfield III
Dunthorpe Press, POB 80385, Portland OR 97280
ISBN 1-88346-348-3
$32.50 (+$4/US, $6/Canada for S/H) (pricing may be out of date)
Ph: 503-635-8222 Fax: 503-635-8405


Iguana Iguana : Guide for Successful Captive Care
Fredric L. Frye
Krieger Publishing Company;
ISBN: 0894648926
$39.50 ?

although there is a lot of good advice on Melissa Kaplan’s Herp and Green Iguana Information Collection

THe florida room won’t cut it for ultraviolet: the iguana may have been getting plenty of “sunlight,” but window glass filters out mos UV rays.

He’d have needed a full-spectrum fluorescent; plain incandescant will not support him.

Are you sure it was a male? Females form eggs even if they are, um, single, but they usually can’t lay them, so they get impacted and the iguana dies.

I really appreciate all the feed back I’m getting, and yeah she isn’t the most responsible person I’ve met either. I will print out this thread and give it to her. As far as it being male or female, she said it was male, so I’ll take her word for it. If anybody else has some input, please reply. This is turning out to be very helpful.

my b/f used to have an iguana. It got a cancer tumor on his jaw and died.
I think the culprit was that my b/f starting feeding the lizard meat!
Iggy loved eating the meat and he even had a liking for cheese but, unfortunatly, he soon developed a tumor on his jaw, couldn’t eat and the doc had to put him under.
RIP Iggy :frowning:

I would like to second the reading material presented by tomndebb. Green Iguana: The Ultimate Owner’s Manual has some excellent ideas for an iguanna enclosure and Melissa Kaplan’s site has great iguana diet recipes. Between those two sources, I rehabilitated an iguana that was showing signs of poor nutrition to the point of have partial paralysis of his rear legs. (unfortunatly, the poor guy died in a tragic household accident a couple of years later)

I dunno…cancer takes a long time to grow. Even in a lizard I’m thinking it would take at least a year from the initial development of cancer to the iguana actually dying of it. I’m pulling that number a little bit out of the air, based on having read that human cancers are usually pressent about 10 years before diagnosis. But you get the idea - I don’t think it would be like one week you give the iguana meat the next week he gets cancer from it and the next week he’s dead. Didn’t mean to hijack the thread but I wanted to assuage your boyfriend’s guilt (if he has any).

After talking to her again, she’s had him for 3 years, living the same way he was down here…the only difference I can see is that she didn’t take him out for any real sunlight down here. Could that alone be the cause? She had him here for about 5 months before he died. And I will tell her about the books.

It could be. Iguanas and some other lizards (like my ten-year-old’s bearded dragon) must have a sufficient amount of UV light in order to metabolize calcium. Without it, they gradually get listless and then succumb to metabolic bone disorder.

I have to admit, I bought my daughter her beardie without doing nearly enough research, although I had gotten some information (much of it wrong, as it turned out) beforehand. Luckily, I was compulsive enough to learn and apply the correct information and the dragon was old enough and healthy enough to survive our first month of bumbling.

Exotics aren’t easy pets. We are careful to give our dragon everything she needs, not only because we care about her, but because she is completely dependent on us for a decent quality of life and it’s our responsibility to provide it. I wouldn’t give her up now, but if I had it all to do over again and knew what I was getting into from the start, I believe I’d have steered my daughter towards a kitten instead. If you have any influence with your friend, it might be a kindness for you to try to persuade her not to replace the iguana with another reptile.

Yeah, I’ll try to talk to her. I don’t think she has the dedication required to take care of another iguana. I’ll pass this information along to her and tell her the possible reasons for George’s unexpected death. Maybe I can guilt her into not getting another (because it’s obviously not George’s fault he died.)