Green Iguana Society logo  1999-2001, D. Baze

Keeping iguanas together presents a whole new set of issues. Whether or not this is a good choice depends upon many factors, including the sex, size and personalities of the iguanas in question, and the size of the habitat provided. One thing that can be said with no hesitation is that male iguanas cannot be kept together! In fact, male iguanas should not even be allowed to see one another. Adult males can get extremely aggressive and territorial toward one another, and will fight to the death if allowed access to each other. Males that can see each other but cannot have physical contact often suffer from a great deal of stress. They may devote so much of their time displaying to each other that they forget to eat and bask and participate in normal iguana activity, and as a consequence, their health suffers.

What about female-female or male-female pairs? There is no clear-cut answer to this question. Some people have been able to keep pairs or small groups of females or females and one male together successfully. Others have not been able to do so. In the wild, iguanas are solitary animals. They get together only during the breeding season, and then only for short amounts of time. Iguanas do not get lonely for other iguanas, nor do they need an iguana friend. Iguanas do just fine when kept individually. But what about those who wish to keep more than one? As with many aspects of iguana care, the Green Iguana Society encourages owners to learn what they can prior to attempting to keep more than one iguana together. To help you make the decision that is right for you, we are presenting you with two different experiences - one positive, and one negative....

Jake & Donnie - My own experience keeping Jake and Donnie together has been a successful one. Jake and Donnie are adult iguanas. Jake is male and Donnie is female. They are similar in size, although Jake is heavier-bodied and slightly longer. When I adopted Jake and Donnie, they were four years old and had been kept together since they were very small. They got along fine together, but not without some negative side effects. They had worked out a hierarchy whereby Jake got priority access to the best basking spots and the food. Since their cage was fairly small and was set up in a way that there was only one spot that was warm enough and that had access to the UV, Donnie developed MBD while Jake didn't. When I adopted them I built them a bigger cage that has several good basking spots that are plenty warm and that are under UV lights. I also feed them in separate dishes so Donnie doesn't get pushed away from the food. I also have two litterboxes in their enclosure. There is plenty of room for them to spread out from one another, and both have access to all the things they need to be healthy - heat, UV, space and good food. I keep an eye out for signs of stress in either of them - a lack of appetite, lethargy, nervous behavior or a dull gray or dark coloration. I also keep a close watch for signs of fighting between them. If I ever see any signs of stress or conflict, I will separate them with no hesitation. Not all people have such luck trying to keep iguanas together. Derek's experience with Mojo and Psycho, described below, is a good example of why keeping iguanas together may not work.

Mojo & Psycho - "Mojo was a male iguana and Psycho was female. Mojo was approximately two years older than Psycho. When Mojo turned three years old, he began to show serious signs of aggression. Some of the books I read at the time recommended that having a few females with an aggressive male would lessen the effects of his breeding season aggression. At the time, I knew someone who was desperately trying to get rid of her female iguana, and I believed that I could provide better care for her, so I decided to give it a try. I knew that I could provide a good home and care for her better than she probably would have been elsewhere, but the problems she would then have, would be because of being housed with another iguana. I knew at the time that having only one female, especially a smaller one, would be a problem, but I was also to the point where I had tried nearly everything else to cure the aggressive behavior. At first, I had the two separated between a wall I made out of plexiglass in hopes that I could phase out the plexiglass and provide a smooth transition into the two of them being together. This worked like I had hoped it would and the two got along great, but not without incident. First of all, Mojo always made sure he was the first to get at the food I provided. I tried to provide two separate bowls of food, but Mojo was determined to get any food that Psycho was interested in eating. Secondly, there were several horrible incidents where Psycho was severely bitten by Mojo. I really don't know if the incidents were intentional, but they were severe none-the-less. One incident in particular was so severe that I think Psycho would have bled to death if I had not been there when it happened. Thirdly, Psycho's personality was definitely affected by the dominant behavior by Mojo. She became very leary of not only Mojo, but she became scared of almost any contact with anyone else, including myself. This behavior was how she got her name, and looking back, I blame myself for not knowing any better. With as much as I provided better care for her, I probably created more problems in her life by forcing her to live with another iguana. At the time, I was at a point where I was utterly confused about a lot of contradicting information about iguana care and I was attempting to make the best of what I knew and what I was experiencing. Looking back, I made a terrible mistake by putting the two of them together and the lack of knowledge I had at the time about proper iguana care made Psycho's life very stressful. With what I experienced with my trial and error method of housing two iguanas together, I always recommend to anyone even thinking about it to learn from my mistakes and find a better and safer way to own more than one iguana. I was lucky the incidents were not too severe. Many people who are against keeping multiple iguanas together usually have a story or two about why they don't recommend it, so please remember that if an accident can happen, it probably will." - Derek Baze

As you can see, housing multiple iguanas together presents a whole new set of challenges. It is very difficult to say whether or not it is the right thing for any one iguana owner to do. If you are thinking about keeping more than one iguana, the important thing for you to do is to be aware of potential problems that may occur, and be ready to deal appropriately with those problems should they occur. Having a back-up housing plan ready in case keeping your iguanas together does not work out is very important. As always, use your best judgement and common sense. Be prepared for all possible outcomes. Keeping more than one iguana can be a great experience - but only if it is done responsibly.

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