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Essential Iguana Facts for First-Time Owners

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Probably the best way is to have knowledge about biology and basic behaviors of your pet Iguana, so you will know if there is something wrong with your new pet reptile.

Your pet Iguanas need a constant source of heat and UV rays to stay healthy. Iguanas will not be able to function in habitat with a temperature that is less than 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

UV rays are also necessary so it the Iguana will be able to metabolize calcium and other minerals. Without UV rays, your Iguana will probably suffer from bone disorders that often cause the death of these magnificent reptiles.

Iguana facts 1 - The Iguana’s anatomy

Just like other reptiles, your pet Iguana has a pair of eyes and pair of ears that are protected by a fairly wide portion of skin called the sub tympanic shield.

The Iguana also has spines along its back; these pliable spines are called the caudal spines and, over time, these also grow long and hard. Iguanas also have a flap of skin under their lower jaw called the dewlap.

Iguanas are herbivorous (they feed on plants only), so they are equipped with very small, yet very sharp, teeth that are designed to tear apart fibrous plant matter.

Be careful when bringing your hand near the Iguana’s mouth, because those teeth can cause serious tears in your skin. If you look closely at the top of the Iguana’s head, you will notice a prominent, light patch of scale. This is called the parietal eye, or third eye. The Iguana uses its third eye to detect changes in light in a given area. It is believed that this primordial eye is also used to detect flying predators, so the Iguana can make a run for it before becoming some other animal’s lunch or dinner.

Iguana Facts 2 - Reptilian body language

Iguanas can feel threatened fairly easily, and if you don’t observe its body language closely enough you can get bitten or hit by its massive tail. Unlike dogs and cats, Iguanas will not vocalize a lot before biting, so be careful especially if the Iguana you have has not been tamed yet.

The dewlap, or the large wad of skin under the Iguana’s jowls, is also used to communicate. In the wild, an Iguana may raise its head to extend the dewlap to signal a simple “hello” to members of its own species.

An extended dewlap may also mean that it is trying to protect its territory from the human owner or from other Iguanas. During mating season an extended dewlap may mean “I want to mate” (this only applies if there are female Iguanas in the same enclosure, and it’s mating season).

If your Iguana has been tamed, and is used to your presence, an extended dewlap may mean that it is a little drafty and it is trying to make itself feel warmer.

Here are some other body language signals that you may want to memorize:

1. Bobbing head – “I’m the big man around here”
2. Bobbing head (to owner) – “Hello!”
3. Bobbing head (fast) – “I’m threatened and I’m ready to fight”
4. Bobbing head (fast, side to side then up and down) – “I’m threatened do not go near me!”
5. Flicking tongue – “Just exploring the air. Possibly eating something.”
6. Flicking tongue – “I’m about to take a bite out of something.”
7. Sneezing – “I’m purging my system of something.”
8. Whipping tail – “I’m about to attack.”
9. Squirming – “I do not like being held.”
10. Head and front legs stretching – “I feel good and I feel happy!”

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