If you are like most people, chances are your iguana needs a better habitat. Most likely, your iguana needs a habitat that is much larger than the one it currently has, and now you must decide the best way to get it what it needs. On this page, we'll be discussing the pros and cons of building your own or buying a complete habitat. You basically have three choices: buy one that is already made, have someone you know build one, or build it yourself. First of all, make sure you learn all you can about what type of habitat your iguana needs. Once you learn what your iguana needs, buying or building a habitat will be easier, and you won't end up with a habitat that you'll need to replace later on. Most iguana owners end up going through several different habitats because they are still learning, and they discover later on that they should have done something different. Whether you're building your own or buying a custom built habitat, learn all you can before you decide, and try to do it right the first time.
Buying a custom habitat - Although it may sound like the best way to go, buying a ready made cage or habitat usually isn't the best way to go, unless you have a lot of money. Even then, you can end up with a habitat that isn't the best for your iguana. There are many custom habitats and cages available, and most generally, they are very expensive and often times far too small for an adult iguana. There are only a few places that sell habitats for iguanas that are of suitable size. If you can afford one of these and do not want to venture into building your own, then by all means, buy one, but make sure it's of suitable size and functionality for your iguana. Your iguana will get LARGE and it will definitely need a large habitat, unless of course you plan on allowing your iguana to be a free roamer. If you are allowing your iguana to be a free roamer, it can also be a good idea to have a habitat of some sort for your iguana to retreat to, if needed. If this is the case, you may be able to get away with providing a somewhat smaller habitat, but it still needs to be quite large. For more information on free roaming and setting up your home for a free roaming iguana, please visit our Freedom & Free Roaming section.
If you do decide to look into buying a custom-made enclosure, the web sites listed below may be useful:
Custom Cages - http://customcages.com
Size is critical - Most importantly, size will be the most important factor when choosing a habitat. Unfortunately, there are many types of cages and enclosures that are sold as "iguana cages" and chances are, they are far too small to be a permanent home for your iguana. Not only are these cages too small for an adult iguana, they are usually quite affordable. This is yet another form of misinformation about iguana care that leads to many iguanas being kept in inadequate habitats, which will most definitely lead to unhealthy and unhappy iguanas. You may be able to "get by" with a smaller cage, but ultimately, the health and happiness of the iguana will suffer. An iguana in a habitat that is too small will be stressed, which can lead to restlessness, nose rubbing and other injuries that are caused by the iguana trying to get out of a small enclosure. You can also get by with a smaller habitat while the iguana is a juvenile and still growing. Going through several habitats throughout the life of the iguana is normal for most iguana owners. If you do it right the first time and buy or build a habitat that is large enough for an adult iguana, you may spend more money now, but the habitat should last your iguana's lifetime.
Custom Wood Reptile Cages - http://customwoodreptilecages.com
Cages By Design - http://www.cagesbydesign.com
Keith van Zile: Lizard Cages.com - http://www.lizardcages.com
J.Worlds Unique Reptile and Rainforest Enclosures - http://www.jworlds.net/ (WAY expensive, but really cool)
Cost of a good habitat - It will cost a good amount of money for a suitable habitat. Going through several habitats, either built or bought, will become even more expensive than building or buying a LARGE habitat as early as possible. If you're buying a habitat, be prepared to spend a great deal of money on one that is large enough for an adult iguana. You'll probably have a very hard time even finding one large enough, and if you do find one that's big enough, it will be very expensive. Also, most habitats that you buy do not come with light fixtures, switches, dimmers, and other accessories you may need. If you can't afford to buy a habitat that is large enough for your iguana, then we definitely recommend that you build your own. Building your own can be much more affordable, but it will still be expensive. Depending on the materials you use, you'll probably end up spending at least $150 (U.S.) building your own. Chances are, you'll spend more than that, but it will usually cost much less than a pre-built one of the same size and quality.
Building your own habitat - The best part of building your own habitat is that not only will your iguana have what it needs, you can build it exactly how you want it. Once again, you can usually build your own for much less than a pre-built one. Of course, you can also build one that costs much more, but chances are, it will be very nice and well worth the money in the long run. With building your own, you can also make use of exactly the amount of space in your home you'd like to give to your iguana. Many pre-built habitats come in a variety of sizes and colors, but if you build your own, you can make it exactly the size you want, as well as build it to become a decorative and attractive addition to your home.
Do tools intimidate you? If you have absolutely no experience with tools, carpentry, electrical work, and building things, then buying a habitat may be the way to go. You may also want to try to get the help of a friend who does have more experience. More times than not, iguana owners end up learning about iguanas as well as carpentry and electrical work. Many iguana owners who had no experience with carpentry are now seasoned pros after building their own habitat. If you do have little or no experience with building things, you will also have the added expense and worry of having or buying the tools you will need to build a habitat. If you have few or no tools, you'll either need to find a friend that will loan you some basic tools or you'll have to buy your own. You can literally spend a fortune on high quality tools, but you can also buy inexpensive hand tools, especially if you don't plan on using them for anything else.
Conclusion - If you are planning on getting a new habitat for your iguana, then this is going to be a big decision to make...to buy or build. We would like to suggest that building your own is the best way to go. If you have experience with carpentry, electrical work and building things, then this should be a very easy decision. If you have little or no experience, we suggest that you find a friend that does have some experience and tools to help you. Whatever you decide, we can not stress it enough.... learn all you can about what your iguana needs, make sure you provide a LARGE habitat, and if at all possible, try to do it right the first time so you don't end up building or buying several habitats throughout the life of your iguana. For more information and what kind of work is involved with building your own habitat, please visit our Planning & Construction page.