Green iguanas have become somewhat popular as pets because of their exotic look and beautiful color. These creatures have very particular needs, and many in captivity suffer greatly as a result of those needs not being met properly.

Iguanas hail from the rainforests of Central and South America, where daily and seasonal temperatures typically range from the low 70s to the upper 90s. Of paramount importance is humidity, usually 80 degrees or higher. Ambient moisture cannot be duplicated easily for lizards in captivity, and the lack thereof causes serious problems.

Sunshine also is very important. Iguanas are “cold-blooded,” meaning the surrounding environmental temperature influences the iguana’s internal body temperature, which in turn affects its metabolism, activity, ability to eat and digest food, and its immune system.

Although some bulbs are superior, no light bulb of any kind can replace the sunshine. Talk to a knowledgeable veterinarian or experienced herpetologist for help here.

The green iguana is a strict vegetarian; maybe some fruit, occasionally, but no insects or animal protein. Fresh vegetables and fresh flowers comprise the base of a balanced diet, to be supplemented with a vitamin and mineral source.

In captivity, iguanas can potentially live up to 15 years. In reality, because of mismanagement and poor husbandry, most live only a few months.

As with any pet, owning one requires serious thought and planning first, along with a commitment to provide appropriately for the life of the pet.