From Dean Dowd on July 31, 2008 in General Remodel
When I was young I really wanted my very own iguana. My parents, in their frustrating (for me) wisdom, advised against it. I persisted. They eventually compromised, saying that I could start with a chameleon and, if I could keep it alive, I could upgrade to that King of all household reptiles. Well, I went through two chameleons and, needless to say, I never got that iguana. Years later, I can’t help but wonder that if I’d done more to make my little friends comfortable they may just have made it. Right now I could be proudly wearing those scars that signify life with an iguana.
So how could I have made life more livable for my reptiles? I realize now, with a hefty dose of remodeling under my tool belt, that there can be a world beyond the aquarium. This is especially important for large creatures like iguanas. So for you parents out there, and herpetology lovers in general, here are a few ideas to make life a little easier for your scaly-skinned pets.
First, think about who amphibians and reptiles are and what they need.
Iguanas being the most common, I’ll focus on them. Iguanas like to do two things (other than eat): climb and bask in the hot sun. All of this will require some significant space. Iguanas will outgrow just about any aquarium/tank you can buy. If you can’t dedicate an entire room, I recommend building a large cage or enclosure for them. By doing it yourself you can customize the cage in any way you want. It can simply be a box (usually wood frame or PVC with wire mesh), but you can also build walkways off of it like, say, a tunnel over to that south-facing window where he can bask in the warm summer sun or get valuable passive solar heat in the winter. Just remember that, whatever you build, you will likely need to get the cage out of the house someday. Although it is not as strong, this portability issue is the reason many people use PVC to construct their cages; it is relatively easy to break down and transport. The Iguana Den offers some useful links for building Iguana enclosures or cages.
Also, remember to give your reptile a basking spot.
If you live in a warm climate, you can solve the movability problem by building the enclosure outdoors. This will solve any issue of sunshine for your amphibian. However, remember that iguanas and other lizards need plenty of warmth and humidity. So do your research and be careful not to leave it outside on cold nights or otherwise unfriendly conditions.
Iguanas, and others like them, may be the most challenging to care for. However, don’t get fooled into laziness regarding your smaller pets (i.e., frogs, salamanders, turtles, most snakes). They all have similar needs and require specific care. My cousin, an avid owner of turtles and iguanas (and thick gloves!), built some great outdoor enclosures for her many Boxer turtles. They were simply a smaller version of an iguana enclosure (less climbing apparatuses and more water).