Green Iguana Society logo © 1999-2001, D. Baze

Antibiotic ointment
Cotton swabs
Flat tweezers
Sharp scissors
Paper medical tape
Regular medical tape
Self-stick medical bandage
Bandages (sterile & non-sterile)
Styptic powder
Magnifying glass
Small flashlight
Nail trimmer & nail file
Medical gloves (latex or non-latex)
Sterile saline

Emergency Preparedness/Emergency Kit

What is Betadine?

Betadine is povidone-iodine, an antiseptic microbicide that can be used for wound cleaning. If you buy it at a drug store, you will get 10% strength, which is equal to 1% available iodine. If you buy veterinary Betadine, it will be 5% povidone-iodine, which is equal to 0.5% available iodine. Either is effective. The veterinary Betadine is often cheaper. You can get veterinary Betadine from vet supply stores.

How do I use Betadine?

Betadine can be used full strength for cleaning of minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. It can be used once or twice daily until the wound is healed. You can spray it on, drip it on, or soak the injured part.

Often, "Betadine soaks" are prescribed for iguanas. This usually involves adding enough Betadine to a tub of lukewarm (80º F) water until it is a dark tea color, and soaking the iguana until the water has cooled. Check with your veterinarian for specific instructions.

Antiboitic ointment
What is antibiotic ointment?

Generally, antibiotic ointments like Neosporin or Bacitracin are one or more antibiotics in a petroleum base. Basically, it is petroleum jelly mixed with bacteria fighting ingredients. The generic brands are fine to use. You can find them in any pharmacy or pharmacy section (like in a grocery store or Walmart)

How do I use antibiotic ointment?

When your iguana has a minor wound (a scratch, tail tip broke off, etc), clean it with Betadine. Make sure the bleeding has stopped and smear on the ointment. Use it liberally, as a lot rubs off when the iguana runs around its enclosure. Daily wash the wound and apply the ointment. It also works well on yourself for iguana scratches and bites.

What is Nolvasan?

Nolvasan is the brand name for chlorhexidine diacetate. It is a disinfectant and wound cleanser that has a very low toxicity rate, and it safer for use around reptiles than something like bleach. It can be expensive (between $30-55 (U.S.) a gallon) but it is sold in concentrated form, so a little goes a long way. You can buy it from your vet (expensive) or vet supply companies like KV Vet. Sometimes you can get Nolvasan products in pet stores, and can sometimes be found in large jugs which can be cheaper. Nolvasan has no real odor so the scented variety isn't necessary.

How do I use Nolvasan?

Make sure you follow the directions on the bottle. Diluted at the rate of 3 ounces per gallon of clean water, Nolvasan can be used to disinfect or sterilize tubs/cages/other surfaces. To disinfect, first clean the object. Then, spray, wipe on, or soak the object in the diluted solution, and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes (15-20 does a better job). To sterilize, allow it to sit or soak for at least half an hour.

You can use this strength to flush a wound, as well. Chlorhexidine diacetate is a common ingredient in a variety of animal products, including dental rinses for dogs and cats. You can also buy different formulas like scrubs or pre-moistened pads if that is more convenient, although it may be more expensive.

What are lubricants?

All of these can be bought in your local pharmacy. Mineral oil is a clear, odor free oil. Aloe vera gel can be bought from the pharmacy, or you can buy a stalk in the produce section of your grocery store, or buy a plant at the nursery and break off leaves as needed. Glycerin is also sold in the pharmacy. It is clear, odorless, and has a slippery feel to it. KY jelly is a water-based lubricant. Any water-based lubricant will work.

How do I use these?

Mineral oil has more than one use. One use is in constipation. If your iguana is constipated, a bit of mineral oil (which is edible) can help loosen it up. Don’t give too much, otherwise you risk diarrhea. The other use is described below.

In order for iguanas to shed properly, they need a lot of moisture in the air. Sometimes, you can have a stubborn shed that just doesn’t want to come off. Putting any of the above products on the stubborn shed can help soften it and loosen it, making it easy for you to remove it. You don’t want to force a shed off if it really isn’t ready. Put the lubricant on the shed at least twice a day, and work it onto the stuck shed. Daily soaks in the bathtub should be done as well.

Cotton swabs
What are cotton swabs?

Cotton swabs are small sticks of either hard paper (like a lollipop) or plastic with cotton on the ends in an oval shape. They are the same ones you use to clean your ears with, and you can get them at any pharmacy or a place like Walmart.

How do I use cotton swabs?

Swabs are great for applying styptic powder to minor wounds. You can also use them to put on antibiotic ointment, cleaning solutions, etc.

Flat tweezers
What are flat tweezers?

These are just your standard issue tweezers or forceps. Those with flat ends, instead of rounded, provide a better grip. You can get them at any pharmacy.

How do I use them?

You can use tweezers to remove bits of dead skin, or help apply bandages when you don’t want to use your fingers.


What are sharp scissors?

Hopefully, everyone knows what these are. A small pair of sharp scissors can be bought anywhere.

How do I use sharp scissors?

A pair of sharp scissors are useful for trimming bandages, cutting tape, etc.

Paper medical tape
What is paper medical tape?

If you use regular adhesive tape on your iguana, you take the chance of damaging scales when you remove the tape. Paper tape is a thin sheet of paper fibers with a low stick adhesive backing. It is used for those with delicate skin (babies, diabetics, etc) and is gentle on the reptile’s scales. They are sold in the bandage section of your pharmacy.

How do I use paper tape?

When your iguana has injured itself and it needs to have a bandage taped in place, or have toes taped together, you use the paper tape. You can, if necessary, apply stronger tape over the paper tape, making sure it does not touch the iguana itself.

Regular medical tape

What is regular medical adhesive tape?

This is any brand or type of medical tape (not Scotch, or masking, etc). Use whichever type works best for you.

How do I use regular medical adhesive tape?

Generally, this tape is used over something else that is on the iguana, such as over a gauze pad that is totally wrapped around a leg, or over paper tape or self-stick tape to make it more secure.

Self-stick medical bandage
What is a self-stick medical bandage?

Self-stick medical bandages are bandages that sticks only to itself and not to skin or scales. You can get it at your pharmacy, but there are cheaper brands from vet supply companies. Vetrap is one, and Co-Flex is another (cheaper than Vetrap, and is as good).

How do I use self-stick medical bandages?

Anytime you need to bandage your iguana, you can use this. It works well to wrap over a gauze pad, since it does not stick and damage scales when you remove it. For extra security, you can wrap regular tape over the self-stick bandage.

Bandages (sterile & non-sterile)
What are bandages?

Bandages are just another name for gauze pads and sterile dressings. You can buy them from your pharmacy, in both sterile and non-sterile forms, as well as in different sizes and types of materials. They are also available from vet supply companies.

How do I use bandages?

The type of bandage you have dictates the type of use. Ideally, you’d use sterile bandages where the area needs to be kept as clean as possible. Non-sterile can be used to apply medications, absorb drips of cleaning solution (like Betadine) when it is flushing a wound, etc.

Styptic powder
What is styptic powder?
Styptic powder is an effective coagulant for minor wounds. That is, it stops bleeding from things like small scratches, a nail trimmed too short, etc. A major brand is Kwik-Stop, which you can get at a pet store or from a vet supply company. Any brand is fine, and there are different forms. You can get it in a plastic cup with a flip top, a “pencil”, pre-dusted pads, etc.

How do I use styptic powder?

The idea is to get a liberal amount of the powder onto what is bleeding. You can scoop some with a finger and touch it to the wound. You can moisten a q-tip with water (not saliva!) and dip that into the powder, then to the wound. With the “pencil” form, you can stick the nail directly in the tube, although you’d have to sprinkle it out for a wound not on a toe. The pre-powdered pads are also easy to use-you take the pad and press it against what is bleeding.

Once the bleeding stops (usually within a few minutes, wait 10 or so) wash the styptic powder out of the wound. Over-trimmed nails don’t need any further care, but other injuries should be as clean as possible before you bandage or put antibacterial ointment on. You can either wash the styptic powder off with water, or use Betadine to rinse it.

Magnifying glass
What is a magnifying glass?

A magnifying glass is simply a handle with a lens that makes things appear larger, so you can get a better look. They come in a variety of types, with the lens being either glass or plastic, and the handle being a variety of materials and shapes. You can get these at a variety of places, as well. The best ones tend to come from scientific supply stores.

How do I use a magnifying glass?

Just hold it and look at what you need see. A bright light directed toward the area in question is a good idea. Get used to looking at your iguana’s skin while it is trouble free, so you can quickly find any problems when, and if, they occur.

Small flashlight

What is a small flashlight?

Small flashlights (pen lights) that create a strong intense beam can help you see what you are doing. A mini Maglite is an excellent choice. You can get it in a variety of stores, including outdoor stores, hardware stores, and combination stores like Walmart.

How do I use a small flashlight?

A small flashlight is great for focusing extra light on an area of the iguana’s body that you are examining. They are also good for when you need to enter a darkened room or cage to perform a quick procedure on the iguana, like a nail trim, since sleepy/asleep iguanas don’t put up much of a fuss if they are used to you going in while they are asleep.

Nail trimmer & nail file
What are a nail trimmer and a nail file?

Nail trimmers are any tool that is used to shorten the length of the iguana's claws. There are several different types that you can use. There are human nail clippers, guillotine style dog and cat clippers, cat and reptile/bird claw trimmers that look like small scissors with a round blade cut out on them, rotary tools, and nail melter tools. Each is used in a different manner. A nail file can be a regular emery board that you use on your own nails.

How do I use nail trimmers and nail files?

Each tool is used differently. However, they have one goal: to trim the nail beneath the quick (blood vessel inside the nail). Nail files are used to smooth off any rough edges after you trim the claws. For more information on how to properly trim and file iguana claws, visit our Claw Trimming page.

Medical gloves (latex or non-latex)
What are medical gloves?
Medical gloves are simply the same kind of gloves that your doctor or dentist uses. They come in both latex and non-latex varieties, as well as powdered or non-powdered. Non-powdered is probably better to use, as that means less chance of getting something into or on your iguana that shouldn’t be there. Latex or non-latex is your choice. Also, sterile or non-sterile should be dictated by the situation. If you are just trying to keep stuff off your hands, like Betadine, then non-sterile would be fine. If you want to prevent infection in your iguana while you are touching a wound, then sterile would be good. For most cases, non-sterile is sufficient. You can buy them in a pharmacy, medical supply store, and from vet supply catalogs.

How do I use medical gloves?
Wash your hands, dry them, then put the gloves on. With non-sterile, just put them on and do what you need to do. With sterile (and the situation needing sterile gloves), you want to keep things as clean as possible. Make sure, when you take them from the packaging, that you don’t touch anything but the iguana and the CLEAN tools that you are using. Laying things out before you put on the gloves is a good idea.

Sterile saline
What is sterile saline?
Sterile saline is just plain contact lens solution. That is, you can buy sterile saline from a vet supply company, but the contact lens solution from the pharmacy will also work. Make sure that it is plain. Avoid the ones that have protein removal stuff in it, for instance.

How do I use sterile saline?
Sterile saline is used to wash out eyes or small cuts. Just keep in mind that once you touch the tip of the bottle to a surface, it is contaminated. So aim the stream of saline on the eye/cut, not the tip of the bottle.

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