So, you bought your child an iguana, and now, after surfing the ‘net and browsing the care books, you realize that an iguana is too much pet for most kids. No matter how mature and responsible your child is, iguana care is simply too much for most kids to handle. So, what does this mean? Well, most iguanas that start out as a child's pet become the responsibility of the parent. Does that mean that your iguana family member must become solely your burden, even though it was your child who wanted one so badly? Absolutely not! Caring for your child's iguana can be an activity that you and your child can do together, and it can be a rewarding experience for both of you. One thing is true – your child is going to need your assistance and supervision to properly take care of his or her pet.
The following are some tips to help you and your child care for your iguana together:
Tip #1: Sit down with your child and help him or her formulate a daily schedule of chores that the iguana requires, including feeding, watering, cage cleaning, and bathing. Give your child gentle reminders and incentives for remembering his or her iguana chores. Don't forget to praise him or her when the chores are done.
Tip #2: If possible, place the iguana's enclosure in a part of the household that everyone frequents, rather than tucking it away in your child's room. Although your child may resist "sharing" his or her pet this way, it is less likely that the iguana will be forgotten if it is part of the daily activity of the household.
Tip #3: Some aspects of iguana care necessitate your help. For example, food preparation (chopping, shredding), claw trimming, and bathing are things that parents must help their kids with. Some things, such as setting up vet appointments and taking the iguana to the vet appointments, must be done by an adult (although your child should accompany you to the vet's, if possible). Cage construction is also something that adults must do most of the work on, although your child can and should help with the planning and material purchases.
Tip #4: In addition to encouraging your child to learn all he or she can about iguanas, educate yourself, as well. If you are knowledgeable about iguana care, you can steer your child in the right direction and make sure that the iguana is being cared for as it should be. Also, your child may not be able to fully understand some of the more complicated aspects of iguana care (such as the finer points of nutrition, for example), and may need your help in spotting any health problems the iguana may have. Having you there to oversee things will be good for the iguana and your child. Be sure to keep up to date on information, and share your knowledge with your child.
Tip #5: Do as many of the iguana care "chores" together as you can. Not only does this ensure that things are being done properly and as often as necessary, but it also gives you and your child an interest and activity that you can enjoy together every day. Shopping for supplies, food and equipment, as well as the daily feeding, watering, etc. are things that can be done together. Not only is this good for you and your child, but it is also good for your iguana. Having more than one capable and experienced care-taker in the family (in this case both you and your child) ensures that things are taken care of if one of you should be temporarily taken "out of action" (you get the flu, your child goes off to camp for a week, etc.).
Many, many unwanted iguanas find themselves in that position when a child becomes bored or overwhelmed with iguana care, and their parents or guardians are unable or unwilling to take over the responsibility. This doesn't have to be so. Iguanas can be great family pets. The key is to think of them in that way – as "family pets" rather than your child's pet (although it's okay to refer to the iguana as your child's pet, to reinforce to your child the responsibility of pet ownership). Caring for an iguana together can be a rewarding experience for a family, and a great lesson in responsibility for a child. If you find your child resisting iguana chores, use that as an opportunity to teach and reinforce a lesson about responsibility. Set good examples for your child by being responsible yourself, and being ready and willing to help with iguana care every day. Don't let your child dump the burden of iguana care on you, but at the same time, be sure to supervise your child and be sure that the iguana is being cared for properly. Continue to work together to make the care of your family's iguana a rewarding experience for you both.