Is an iguana a good pet to have?

Is it mean?
Will I get rabies if it bites me?
Will it run away if I take it outside?
What do they eat?

14 Responses to “Is an iguana a good pet to have?”

  • colera667:

    go to a book store and buy “iguanas for dummies” its what my friends did who just got one.

  • mandy:

    they really suck as a pet. there mean, they run away from you they eat this iguana food that looks like pellets or they can eat bugs but if they eat the bugs then they get really aggressive.

  • Lisa T:

    An Iguana is not a good pet! We rescued one and it was awful. If you want a lizard, go with a bearded dragon! They sell commercial food for them, plus they like fresh fruit and stuff( read up first). You need to be educated about any per before you get one!

  • Jennifer A:

    Iguanas are very difficult pets to keep. They need a lot of space, get very large, and can be aggressive. My husband and I opted not to adopt an iguana because we were planning to have children and we were told that the two do not mix. However, I have heard of people successfully keeping iguanas and being very pleased with their pets. They definitely do not fit every lifestyle, though, so make sure you read up first!

  • Fireside3/Phrynosoma-Texas:

    Because you are asking, I can tell you are a beginner…and most definitely “no” ….an Iguana ( or most other large lizards/dragons ) is a terrible choice to start with. It’s not that they are bad animals, but they are demanding to care for, and you have to know the animal and commit to what you are doing and buy the right equipment. Most people are lazy and don’t bother to learn what they need to know, spend the time with it, or buy the right equipment. So they think it is a terrible pet. It’s just a terrible FIRST pet, especially if you have no experience with herps.

    I recommend an Anole or Gecko as an intro to lizards. If you can keep one of those alive and healthy for a year, then you can step up into a reptile with more “advanced” requirements and larger price tags. Most likely if you get something like a Bearded Dragon or Iguana before you are really ready, you may kill it and be out some money too.

    Melissa Kaplan is one of the most well known and respected authorities on Iguanas and care of reptiles in general.

  • Alyssa:

    Reptiles do not carry rabies, but they do carry salmonella and a number of other bacteria and viruses.

    Iguanas are NOT good pets. They can grow 6 feet long or longer, they bite, they scratch, they whip you with their tails (which can draw blood and leave bruises), they will escape the first chance they get, they require a HUGE cage (a proper iguana cage should be 1.5 – 2x longer and taller than he is- you’re talking an 8-10 foot square cage. That’s almost as big as a bedroom.) They require a varied diet of fresh foods, and powerful UVA/UVB heat lights. People will tell you they are easy to care for, but that is only because people don’t take care of them properly.

    If you like lizards, look into leopard geckos and bearded dragons. They are small, friendly, and much easier to care for and cage.

  • bakerjunkie:

    they all say no! but its up to you if you want one then get one just make sure you really wany it first thing is space these guys get upto 6′ in length…so youll need a big enclousure for it, they eats fruits and veggis, alot of people say they are mean but if tame them and spend time with them there will calm down and be a cool as can be! so take all the people that say no and combine there advice….but get one if you would like………..

  • Sputz:

    Yes, it is mean. There are a few that are nice sweet little guys, but the majority are mean. Iguanas are not really supposed to be pets. I have one, and he’s mean. He whips us and tries to bite.

    No, you will not get rabies. If you want rabies(which you shouldn’t), get a mammilian pet. Mammals carry rabies, not reptiles. However, reptiles do carry Salmonella. This is a really bad case of food poisoning, basically, and its a pain.

    It will run away if taken outside. You wont be able to take it out without an iguana leash, which is hard enough to get on them in the first place.

    They eat ONLY veggies and some fruit. They should be fed collard greens, romain lettuce(not much), and some other stuff. A Full list is on the site, The Green Iguana Society.

    Point: You dont want an iggy. From what you are asking, I suggest a russian tortoise. They can be brought outside, and they dont run away. If they tried, you could catch up to them. They’re slow. Also, my two females are really friendly. Emi loves attention and explores everywhere. Tak will sit in your lap, but she’s more reserved. She’s still learning to trust us.

    Remember you have to research everything VERY well before you get it. If you dont research, you’ll be killing your animal by not knowing what it means.

  • Lauren:

    If you are a first-time reptile owner, then no, it is not a good pet for you. I would recommend a leopard gecko, I know from experience that they make wonderful pets.

    I owned an iguana for a few months and gave him to my cousin after that. He was not mean and did not bite, but he had very long claws that drew blood on occasion. If you are looking for a pet that you can take outdoors and hold, an iguana is probably not for you. They are very fast; I kept mine of a leash and harness when I took him out. If I hadn’t, he probably would have escaped. Iguanas will also eventually need a very large cage as they can grow around 6 feet. The advantage to iguanas over other lizards (such as leopard geckos) is their diet. They eat a diet of mainly lettuce, which is much easier to keep than crickets, which can smell TERRIBLE. So if I were you, I’d get a leopard gecko. If you’re set on an iguana, however, do your research so you know what you’re getting into.

  • gimmenamenow:

    To answer your questions in order. Yes, I have iguanas, so this is my take on the whole iguana thing….

    No, they’re not good pets to have.
    If they’re handled on a regular basis, generally, they’re not mean. Neglect them for any amount of time, however, and you end up with a lizard that will want to claw, tailwhip, and perhaps even bite. Male iguanas can grow to over 6 feet long. When being handled, they want to be at the highest point possible… this usually means your head, so unless you are prepared to have razor sharp claws climbing up your scalp and using your ears as toeholds…. sure, you can trim their claws, but if you have a -good- cage for your ig, he/she will need to be able to climb.

    No, you will not get rabies if it bites you, only mammals carry rabies. However, if you don’t keep the cage clean, you can contract salmonella, this is -NOT- the iguana’s fault, it’s the handler/owners fault for not keeping a clean cage, and not washing their hands before picking their nose, chewing their fingernails, rubbing their eyes, whatever.

    Yes, unless restrained by a lizard leash (which most igs I’ve met simply despise), your iguana WILL run away if taken outside. (or at least attempt to… again, sharp claws, powerful whipping tail)

    They eat fruits and veggies, need calcium/vitamin D supplement, etc. etc.

    If you do want to get an iguana, please buy a book or three on captive care and maintenance before making your purchase.

  • LizardGirl8662:

    No you won’t get rabies, yes the can be very mean and yes it will run away if you take it out. Iguanas do not make good pets they get 7ft, are aggressive during mating season and are dissicult to care for.

    They should be feed:

    45% leafy greens such as escarole, dandelions, endive, mustard, and collards, NO lettuces or spinach! They aren’t good for him.
    45% hard mixed veggies such as an orange flesh squash the harder the better(acorn,pumpkin,butternut… fresh green beans, fresh peas, parsnip, and green bell peppers, NO broccoli or cauliflower, or avocado!
    10% fruit such as figs, papaya, mango, pear, and berries. NO bananas, only very rarely as a treat.
    NO ANIMAL PROTEIN such as bugs, meat, eggs, or cheese!

    Cage size:

    Minimum length (side to side): 2-3 x
    Minimum depth (front to back): 1.5-2 x
    Minimum height: 1.5-2 x


    They need a basking area of 95-100 and normal temps of 75-85. NO heat rocks!


    They need a 5.0 UV light.


    They should also get baths everyday or so. And should have a water bowl in their cage.


    You should take Your Iguana for regular vet checkups to make sure it is in good health. Reptiles can have internal parasites that can harm them so you should make sure the vet checks that. And if it’s female it may need to be spayed to prevent egg binding.

    Here are some good sites, the first one was recomended by my vet.

  • copperhead: lists it as one of the 5 worst reptiles for a beginning reptile keeper ( . Does that tell you something?

    If you look at the website under caresheets, they also list the 5 best – bearded dragon, and leopard geckos are much better for a pet, stay much smaller (although the bearded gets to be ~20″).

    No reptile can give you rabies – only mammals can. They can give you salmonella if you don’t care for them properly ans wash your hands.

    Any animal can try to run away – you shouldn’t take it outside unless it’s in a container or on a lizard leash (and most reptiles don’t walk like a dog – it’s either stay in one place, or try to run and hide under the nearest bush!).

    Both eat insects and might like a pinkie mouse as an adult (not when small, and not really necessary). The bearded dragon also eats fruit and veggies. Kingsnake has care sheets on all of these.

    And leos can be hand tamed if you get them young. The majority of beardeds are very friendly. Iguanas might be friendly when young, but can be very mean as they mature.

  • Betty:

    What your are looking for in a pet would be needed to define if an Iguana is a good pet. Iguanas don’t move around much so they can’t really be played with. They live in very large cages which are expensive to build, and even more to buy, and require support equipment like heat lights, strong UVB lights, humidity devices and gauges, and mutilevel platforms. They require daily attention to socialize and to maintain that socialization in addition to what is needed to maintain their enviornment.

    Iguanas are wild animals and while most can learn to tolerate human contact, few will learn to crave it. As with any animal, termpermant varies and will also be affected by health, suitability of their housing, and hormanal changes. Male Iguanas may become agressive during mating season.

    You will not get rabies from an iguana bite, but it can leave a nasty scar. Iguana’s teeth are made to shred vegetation and are like a mouthfull of tiny needles. They don’t let go easily either (the smell of alcohol or vinegar will make them release). Iguanas, as all reptiles, can carry samonella. You should always use antibacterial soap or sanitatizer after handling any reptile.

    Most people live in enviornments that are not suited to iguanas. I know that here in Texas most of the vegetation outside is poisonous to Iguanas. My son has an iguana and one of the first things he learned was how fast they can run so the chances of catching them if they get away is very poor. Iguanas should be taken outside when it is warm enough for them so they can get exposure to the sun for vitamin D production, but I recommend doing this in a cage. Some people may be able to walk their iguanas on a leash, but this show an individual with a knack for socializing their iguana rather than a behavior you can expect to duplicate.

    Iguanas as strict vegetarians. Those that tell you that they can eat meat are failing to mention the health problems that doing this leads to and the early death it will cause for the Iguana. Iguanas should be feed every day and be provided water as well. Some of the things they eat are collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, escarole, green beans, parsnip, winter squash, alfalfa, strawberries, mangos, figs and cantaloupe. Commercially available Iguana food is not suitable for use as it usually contains animal protein and does not contain enough moisture. Iguanas eat in the late morning and digest their food as they bask in the afternoon.

    Here’s some info that doesn’t relate to your questions, but you should consider before getting an iguana.

    Iguanas can grow to 6 foot in length.

    Age…………… head to vent… length
    Just hatched………2 in ………….6-8 in
    3 months………….4 in…………..12 in
    6 months…………6 in…………..18 in
    1 year…………….8 in…………..24 in
    18 months…….…10 in…………..30 in
    2 years…………..12 in…………..36 in
    3 years……….….16 in…………..45 in
    4 years……….….18 in…………..54 in
    5 years…………..20 in…………..60 in
    6 years…………..22 in…………..66 in
    7 years…….up to 24 in……..up to 72 in

    Where x is the length of the iguana, housing should be x tall, x deep and 1.5 x long. Iguanas are arboreal and need to have something to climb on. A bathing area is also desirable. Iguanas instinctually poop in water and they are likely to consistently use the bathing are to do so.

    Iguanas need a basking area, normally at the top of the climbing area that has a temperature of 95F. The lower areas of the cages should be cooler as a lizard regulates his body temperature by moving to warmer or cooler areas. The lowest temperature, nighttime, should not be less than 75F. Nighttime heat can be provided using ceramic heaters or night bulbs. Never use heat rocks with Iguanas as they can cause burning.

    Iguanas live in equatorial areas. They should have 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. They also require high quality UVB lights (such as reptisun 10) to facilitate vitamin D production to allow calcium absorption. Vitamin D drop are not a suitable replacement due to problems with dosing and lack of evidence on their effectiveness in Iguanas. Daily trips outside, in a suitable enclosure, are desirable when temperature permits.

    Iguanas must be handled daily to socializing them. As they can inflict injury with their tails, teeth, and claws the purchase of protective gear for the forearms is often considered (my son uses a leather jacket and gloves). They are not domesticated animals so this behavior is instinctual on the Iguana’s part. The daily handling is to show them that you are a friend rather than a threat. Never punish an iguana, but at the same time do not let them win. If the Iguana learns that tail thrashing will cause you to put them down, they will always tail thrash when you try to pick them up.

    Iguanas require reptile vets. Regular vets do not have the training needed to understand what is happening in an Iguana, or any other reptile. You can find a list of reptile vets in the US at

    In captivity Iguanas given proper care can be expected to live 20 years.

    Please be sure to visit It is the website of Melissa Kaplan, author of Iguanas for Dummies.

  • shellaroe:

    I was checking out websites for flowers iguanas can eat and I found a GREAT website This website has a link to Melissa Kaplans and anapsid.

    They are high maintenance and can be expensive.

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