If you are thinking about getting an iguana, it's very important that you know what it's going to involve on your part. The following is a list of questions that you should ask yourself before you go get that iguana, to see if you have the "credentials" to own one....
Credentials needed to be an iguana owner
1. Are you loving?
Iguanas need love, just like a dog or a cat would. They are not creatures happy to be stuck in a cage, fed, cleaned and ignored. They need contact, interaction, and yeah, love.
2. Are you patient?
The average iguana can take a VERY long time to tame, and the iguana will need consistant guidance and interaction to become tame.
3. Are you committed?
An iguana in ideal circumstances can live to be 20+ years old! Are you ready to see that committment all the way through until the end, or would you prefer to think that you can sell or adopt out the iguana with no negative consequences? It's not true; I have personally seen broken hearted iguanas.
4. Are you stable?
Are you going to take off constantly, leaving the iguana to fend for him/herself? Are you a traveling sort? Will you be moving a lot? Iguanas should have as stable and consistent of a life as possible.
5. Are you financially secure?
Raising a healthy iguana costs a lot of money! For an adult iguana, you'll need to buy fresh food every few days, provide a HUMONGOUS cage (or an entire room), and buy other necessary supplies. Vet trips - iguanas need to see a qualified vet regularly. Are you prepared for that expense? Are you prepared for emergencies? Are you prepared to drive a distance to find a suitable herp vet?
6. Are you willing to work to find good, correct information, and to continue learning?
Learning how to care for iguanas properly is a job that is never done. Information is always changing. There is a lot of research that must be done before you even bring an iguana home! Are you willing to wade through many good websites and read a few books, or will you be content with what the pet store tells you? Will you take the first website or book you find as the be all, end all of iguana care? Or you will continue to research and learn?
7. Do you have time for your iguana?
Not just time to feed it, clean it and give it water. Do you have time to talk to your iguana, pet your iguana, play with him/her? They need it! They can't be stuck in a cage and ignored!
8. Are you empathetic?
Will you do your best to put yourself in your iguanas shoes? Can you comprehend that an iguana is trying hard to be a part of your world, despite the massive differences? If your iguana is grouchy about something, can you put yourself in his/her place and try to understand what the problem is?
9. Are you consistent?
Iguanas need routines, stablilty, regular feedings, regular potty times, regular play times, etc. Do you have the sort of lifestyle in which you can do that? Are you even willing to?
If you can honestly answer yes to all of those questions, then, perhaps, you have the "credentials" to be owned by an iguana. Now, before you go and get that iguana, you need to learn as much as you can about iguanas and what you'll need to do before you bring one home. The following is a list of things you should learn about, decide upon and do before you get an iguana....
What to do and learn before you get an iguana
1. Learn all you can about iguanas and iguana care.
You can start by reading all about iguana care here on the Green Iguana Society website. But don't stop there...keep reading and learning all you can before you make the committment!
2. Where are you going to get your iguana?
There are hundreds to even thousands of iguanas that are in need of a good home. Adopting or rescuing an iguana can be a very interesting and rewarding experience. Visit our Rescues & Adoptions page for more information on adopting an iguana. Buying or "rescuing" an iguana from a pet store may be an easy place to getting an iguana, but it's not the best place. Make sure you visit our Before you adopt an iguana page to find out why pet stores aren't the best place to get an iguana.
3. Is your home ready for an iguana?
It's very important to be ready before you bring a new iguana home. You must have a habitat (cage or enclosure) that is set up properly. Visit our Habitat page for more information on providing a suitable habitat for a pet iguana. You will also need to make sure your family is prepared to live with an iguana as well! Some states, counties and cities have laws and ordinances against keeping iguanas as pets. Also, many apartments and townhomes do not allow pets or they may only allow certain pets. Make sure it's legal and that you have permission to own an iguana where you live.
4. Find a vet in your area that treats iguanas
It's very important that you have a good herp vet before you get your iguana. Finding an experienced vet that treats iguanas can be difficult, so while you're looking for the right iguana, you can be looking for the right vet as well!
5. Do you have everything else you need?
Along with all the proper habitat supplies (UV lights, heat sources, etc.) you'll need some other things such as food and water bowls, spray bottles (for misting), a first aid kit, something to trim claws with, a reliable source for fresh vegetables and fruit that you'll be feeding your iguana, and many other things that you'll know after you learn more about iguana care.
6. Buy a reliable book on iguana care.
Although there is much to learn on our website and other reliable sites, having a reliable iguana care book on-hand will be very helpful. There are many unreliable iguana care books available. We recommend Green Iguana: The Ultimate Owner's Manual by James W. Hatfield III. It can be found many places online for about $25-$30 (U.S.), is well worth the price, and will be an invaluable item to have around!
As you can probably tell, there is a lot that needs to be done and learned before you get an iguana...and these are just the basics! So many people jump into the committment of iguana ownership and then they find out that it was more than they can truly handle. We aren't trying to talk people out of owning iguanas, we just hope to teach people more about iguanas before they go and get one. Now, after all that we've told you about what it takes, we hope you have the answer to the question, "Are you prepared to own an iguana?" Good luck!