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Although iguanas have become one of the most popular pets, they are still very misunderstood. Many people are still caring for their iguanas based on a large number of myths and misconceptions. These so-called facts have been spread through outdated books, various people that are not informed on the latest in iguana husbandry, and even sometimes veterinarians that are not qualified to treat and offer advice on iguana care. Below is a list of many of the most common myths and misconceptions about iguanas...

Iguanas eat lettuce?! This is one of the most common myths. Many people just figure that iguanas are vegetarians and feeding lettuce will do. The fact is that lettuce is okay to feed to an iguana on occasion, but most lettuce lacks in nutritional value. Many iguanas that are fed lettuce as a main part of their diets will only eat lettuce, even after better foods have been added to their diets. Another common myth regarding iguana food and nutrition is that iguanas won't eat something that isn't good for them. Iguanas will eat just about anything, and it should the responsibility of their owners to provide good quality food for them. Lettuce should be avoided, but it is not unhealthy to occasionally provide small amounts of certain types of lettuce to an iguana. Head lettuce should be avoided. Romaine lettuce and other green leaf lettuces are probably the best choices, if any small amounts of lettuce are provided. Basically, if there are better foods to provide instead of nutritionally poor lettuce, you might as well supply better leafy greens such as collards, mustard greens and turnip greens. For more information about lettuce and what should be fed to an iguana, please visit our Food & Feeding section.

Iguanas eat meat, dog and cat food, and insects?! Many iguana care books still say that iguanas can be fed these items. All of these items contain animal protein and can cause severe organ damage and possibly even premature death. There are many so-called authorities in iguana care that still claim that young iguanas eat insects. This myth started many years ago, and has grown to epidemic proportions. While it may be true that wild iguanas occasionally eat animal protein (and this has not been conclusively shown), we do know for sure that iguanas raised on a strictly vegetarian diet not only are large and healthy, but longer-lived than those fed animal protein. So, regardless of what wild iguanas are or aren't doing, there is no good reason to feed meat, and in fact, there are serious reasons not to. The Green Iguana Society recommends that no iguana, even a young one, should ever be fed meat, dog or cat food, insects or any other kind of animal protein.

Iguanas need to eat gravel to help digest its food?! Who really knows where this horrible misconception started, but it is, none-the-less, a total misconception. Gravel and other particulate matter that is ingested can impact in the gut and can be very deadly. Never use gravel or other particulate matter for use as a habitat substrate. For more information about proper habitat substrate, please visit our Habitat, Enclosures & Cages section. Gravel should never be fed, purposely or even accidentally.

Iguanas only grow to the size of their cages?! Many people think that if an iguana is kept in a small cage, it will remain small, but this is untrue. Iguanas, if cared for properly, will usually grow to reach lengths of five to six feet. For more information about proper habitat sizes, visit our Habitat, Enclosures & Cages section.

Hot rocks are a good way to heat an iguana?! Sure, hot rocks will heat an iguana, but the problem is that the iguana will usually sit there and literally bake on a hot rock. Hot rocks are dangerous and not at all recommended in any form. There are many better ways to heat an iguana and its habitat, so we suggest that those other ways be used. For more information on proper ways to heat an iguana's habitat, please visit our Habitat, Enclosures & Cages section.

Iguanas do not need any special lighting?! Iguanas must have access to UVB and UVA lighting. Natural unfiltered sunlight is the best possible choice. All iguana habitats should always contain quality UVB and UVA fluorescent lighting. For more information on proper lighting, please visit our Habitat, Enclosures & Cages section.

Iguanas can be kept in a 10 gallon aquarium?! Iguanas should never be kept in a ten gallon aquarium. Even hatchlings should not be kept in such a small enclosure, mainly due to the fact that such a small enclosure is not capable of having areas of different temperatures. Iguanas need an enclosure that gives them the opportunity to roam and become comfortable in areas that provide the temperature that they want. If any aquarium is used (but still not recommended), at least a 50 gallon aquarium is absolutely minimal, and should only be used for a hatchling. An iguana will outgrow a 50 gallon aquarium in a matter of months!

Iguanas are low maintenance pets?! Although many experienced iguana owners claim that they are easy to care for and do not take a whole lot of time and care compared to some other pets, iguanas are still not low maintenance pets. Feeding an iguana should be a constant process of change and variety. Although with timers and environment controls, an iguana habitat can be relatively easy to maintain. Getting it set up and functioning properly can be very time consuming and should involve a lot of thought. Spending quality time with an iguana and acclimating it to the life of a human's pet, is another part of iguana husbandry that takes a lot of time and patience. Cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing the habitat also involves a lot of maintenance. Once an iguana owner gets used to doing all the daily and weekly chores, it can be easy, but they are still not low maintenance pets.

Iguanas don't need to see a veterinarian?! Many people think that iguanas are not normal pets, so they do not need special care from a veterinarian. This is a myth, and in fact, vet checkups and yearly exams should be done. Just as with any other pet, a quality herp vet can find early warning signs of serious problems as well as determine any problems with its diet and habitat. For more information on vets and finding a quality vet, visit our Veterinarians & Societies section.

"Dwarf iguanas" will not grow as large as normal iguanas?! First of all, there is no such thing as a dwarf iguana. Secondly, all green iguanas, if properly cared for, will grow to become very large lizards. Many pet stores still sell green iguanas as "dwarf iguanas" to unknowing consumers.

Iguanas are great pets for kids?! Since iguanas can be difficult to care for, they may not be appropriate for kids to care for, even though many kids still own iguanas. Many kids buy iguanas or they convince their parents to buy them one. This can lead to various different outcomes. Some kids may well be responsible enough to provide their iguana with quality care, but what usually happens is that many kids end up neglecting their iguanas. When this happens, either the kid's parents end up caring for it, it ends up being given to another home, or often times the iguana ends up dying. We don't necessarily want to say that they are not appropriate pets for kids, but they do require a lot of care and should only be cared for by responsible kids under adult supervision. For more iguana care information written for kids, please check out our Kids Club.

Iguanas are stupid?! Many people think that iguanas are relatively stupid animals. In fact, they are very intelligent, considering the size of their brains. Iguanas can be toilet trained, learn tricks, and even find their way home when lost. These are only a few of the things that iguanas are capable of learning, and they reinforce the fact that they are not stupid animals.

Iguanas have no personality?! Every iguana is different and every one of them is different in its own unique way. Some are very personable, and most act differently when around their primary owner. Basically, once someone owns an iguana, it will be completely clear that iguanas are full of personality.







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