Iguanas are like little kids. They want to explore everything, taste
everything, and crawl into every small space imaginable. As a result, if you want to let your
iguana roam, you have to iguana proof your room, or the one room he gets to use. Outdoor
iguana roaming will be discussed in our Outdoor Free Roaming
To understand ig-proofing, you need to understand some basic iguana behaviors. One is tongue-flicking. Like snakes, iguanas have a Jacobsonís organ in the roof of their mouth. In order to smell or taste something, they have to flick their tongue out and then press it against the organ. Iguanas are arboreal creatures, and they have an urgent need to be as high as they possibly can. They will climb whatever is available. Iguanas can also smush their way into extremely small spaces, spaces that you never expected them to fit.
Thus, there are a few rules that you should follow with any green iguana:
1. Clean your floor. Keep little bits of things off the floor like string, cat hair, your hair, paper, bits of fabric, wires, underpants, etc. Anything that can be put in their mouths can be swallowed, which means that iggy can have a serious case of impaction and need medical care immediately. And iguanas will taste (tongue-flick) EVERYTHING!
2. Value your valuables. Anything you donít want broken, put away, or put it in a safe spot like behind heavy glass doors of a hutch in the dining room.
3. Iguanas can climb anything. Your bookcases and brick fireplaces are great climbing tools. If you want to keep them neat, then supervise your ig when he is doing that. Otherwise, donít let your iguana have access to the room. My ig climbs on the outside of the fireplace, but the hearth is closed up so he canít get into the actual chimney.
4. The topple factor. Whatever you own, your iguana can topple. Bookcases, big plants, tall lamps, your house. Well, ok, thatís a tiny exaggeration. Seriously, your iguana can cause a lot of damage to your home and to itself when it topples something. Iguanas are not as smart as you, and sometimes (well, most of the time) they don't realize that they wonít be able to make a jump or that they wonít have anything to dig their claws into (like the smooth side of a bookcase). Theyíll scrabble for purchase, and what they jump onto will become unbalanced and fall. Secure things that you feel might be unstable, or just donít let your iguana near them.
5. Iguanas love plants. They donít know what is poisonous until theyíve eaten it. You must know if your plants are poisonous or not. Click on toxic plants to learn to identify these plants, and learn the symptoms of poisoning so you can track down what happened.
Iguanas also will happily roost in a plant 10 times too small for them, which means a mangled plant for you. They will also eat or try to eat the dirt in the pots. Some tongue-flick the dirt, others will take mouthfuls of it. Too much dirt can lead to impaction (because of little bits of sand, stone, etc.). If your iguana likes to do this, get large flat stones or old roofing slates (both of these should be several inches wide and long) and cover the soil with this, leaving room for the plant.
6. Keep your cords neat. Iguanas may try to bite them, which can result in a shock or electrocution. They may also try to climb them, which usually results in toppling what the cord is attached to. This, of course, means broken object or broken iguana. Hide the cords, tape them against things, or invest in some of those cord winders.
7. Keep pets away. Most of the time, iguanas and other pets donít get along. They can cause severe damage to each other, which might result in death. So, donít leave your iguana alone with a cat, dog, bird, or other small animal. Only if they are extremely well supervised can you let them roam when there is another animal roaming around. For more information on how to safely keep iguanas and other pets, visit our Iguanas and Other Pets page.
8. Smushability. Your iguana is actually Iguadini, The Amazing Escape Artist. They are like cats...whatever they can get their head into, they can get their bodies into. Well, actually, what they can get their head into they sure try to get their body through, often getting stuck when they don't manage to get through. If your iguana is small, make sure you stuff a towel underneath the doors so the ig doesn't try to get through. Make sure that bookcases and similar large furniture pieces are flat against the wall. Keep the iguana out of the kitchen unless you fancy poking around behind your refridgerator with a large stick, trying to coax it out. Be careful about how you sit on beds and couches, because if they are not under it, they could be hidden in the cushions, between the pillows, or under the top mattress.
9. The Ig-credible Hulk. Yes, it's true. Your iguana posseses strength you can't imagine, particularly when it is angry. But, a determined iguana is also a strong iguana. Iguanas, even young ones, can rip out screens even if they are reinforced with the all-mighty duct tape. NEVER, EVER, EVER LEAVE YOUR IGUANA ALONE NEXT TO AN OPEN WINDOW, unless you've made a special screen. That is, create a frame from wood and hardware cloth and screw it into the frame of your existing screen. Even then, it might not be enough...iguanas can pull out the staples that are holding the hardware cloth to the frame.
10. Holiday Alert! The holiday season brings with it all sorts of additional hazards for pets. The following tips on how to keep your iguana and other pets safe during the holiday season were written by Gail Easley and are reproduced here with her permission. Thanks to Gail for sharing these great tips!
A. Blinking lights can cause seizures in fish and reptiles; please do not use them around these creatures.
B. The silver foil icicles look tasty to igs. They are deadly, as they will loop the intestines and cause tissue necrosis.
C. Poinsettias, holly, mistletoe--poisonous.
D. Evergreens--hard to digest and can cause internal ruptures.
E. Spray snow--can cause blockage.
F. Trees--use common sense. secure properly. Expect them to fall. Unplug lights when you are not supervising the igs.
G. cedar trees--bad news for allergies and for igs.
H. Vacuum under real trees daily to keep the needles off the floor (and out of the ig!).
I. Toy trains--torture the cats and dogs with them. Igs like to poop on the moving parts, so forget about torturing igs with them! You can also use them to drive unwanted relatives out of the house due to the smoke and noise...
J. Decorations in general. Igs will taste everything!
K. Fiberglass "snow"--if ingested, will cause internal bleeding and likely death! This is because it is glass and very sharp internally.
There are many other problems. Use common sense. If you would not trust it with a 18 month old human child that has the strange ability to climb sheer cliffs, then you cannot trust it with your ig.