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Do Iguanas Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know!

Oliver Jones

Iguanas are one of the more popular exotic pets because they are super striking to look at, have unique personalities, and live quite a few years in captivity. By most reptile lovers’ standards, Iguanas make good pets, but they are not a good pet for many.

In short, Iguanas make good pets for reptile lovers who can afford these exotic creatures, know how to take care of them, and are okay with the thought of not touching their pet. However, Iguanas are not good pets for children, people who cannot afford or know how to take care of their Iguana, or people who want to hold and play with their pet.

To learn more about owning an Iguana as a pet, read on. Below, we learn all the pros and cons of Iguana pet ownership, as well as whether or not owning a pet Iguana is right for you.

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Are Iguanas Good Pets?

Cuban Rock Iguanas
Image Credit: Konstantin Aksenov, Shutterstock

Whether or not an Iguana makes a good pet depends on what you are looking for from a pet. If you are looking for a pet that can play with you, have a strong bond, and will look forward to cuddle sessions, Iguanas are not good pets. Iguanas are reptiles, which makes them vastly different from dogs and cats, and you shouldn’t expect the same from them, as a result.

At the same time, Iguanas can be a great pet if you are looking for a reptile that will live a long life, be fun to watch, and easy to feed. In other words, Iguanas make great pets for reptile lovers and enthusiasts, though not people looking for a more traditional pet experience.new bearded dragon divider

Pros of Owning a Pet Iguana

rhinoceros-iguana
Image Credit: maistr, Pixabay

If you are looking for a really unique reptile to have as a pet, an Iguana can be a great place to start. In comparison to many other reptiles, Iguanas are relatively easy to care for and will be in your ownership for many years. Here are the biggest benefits of owning an Iguana as a pet:

1. They Live a Long Time

Shockingly, Iguanas can live up to 20 years in captivity. Especially if you take good care of your Iguana and know exactly what it needs, you can easily expect your Iguana to live with you for a couple of decades. This allows you to have a very long-lasting pet.

Part of the reason why Iguanas can live for so long is that they have such a strong build. In many ways, Iguanas look like little dinosaurs. Iguanas love climbing and playing, and you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt in the process. In fact, Iguanas can fall from heights of 50 feet without injury.


2. They’re Easy to Feed

Many reptile lovers know that feeding reptiles can be downright difficult at times. However, Iguanas are actually very easy to feed. Iguanas love to eat leaves, flowers, fruits, and vegetables because they have a completely herbivorous diet.

What this means for you is that you don’t have to worry about feeding live crickets or other creepy crawlies to your Iguana. Instead, you can feed your Iguana your leftover salad, assuming that it doesn’t have any animal products or dressing on it. So, feeding your Iguana is super easy.


3. They’re Active During the Day

One downside to many reptiles is that they are only active at night. As a result, it can be difficult to watch your reptile roam around and play. This is not the case for Iguanas. Iguanas are diurnal, which means they get up whenever the sun is up.

As a result, Iguanas are the perfect pet for those who want to watch their reptile throughout the day. Since they are up at the same time as you, you can easily watch them crawl around and play, leading to much more fun and exciting reptile ownership.new bearded dragon divider

Cons of Owning a Pet Iguana

Rhinoceros Iguanas
Image Credit: Bergadder, Pixabay

Although there are many benefits for owning an Iguana as a pet, there are many downsides as well. Most importantly, you need to have the financial means and experience for caring for an Iguana. More so, you have to be okay with not petting your pet.

1. Expensive and Difficult to Care For

Arguably the most difficult part of owning a pet Iguana is how much experience, effort, and money it takes to care for them. Because Iguanas are so large, they need a very large enclosure. Not to mention, they have specific lighting, humidity, and temperature needs. On top of these facts, you will have to pay extra to take your Iguana to an exotic veterinarian.

Because of all these specific living conditions, you can expect to pay close to $1000 for the initial setup for your Iguana. After that, you have to be careful to provide your new lizard the right conditions for the rest of its life. In other words, you have to monitor the lighting, humidity, and temperature every single day.


2. Large Size

Iguanas are much larger than other lizards. Many people do not realize that adult Iguanas can grow to be 50 to 72 inches long. An adult male can weigh as much as 20 pounds. This large size is great because it allows you to easily spot your Iguana, but it also means the creature needs a large terrarium.

Because of its large size, you need to have a whole lot of space in your home for the terrarium. The Iguana needs to be able to move, turn, stretch, and play. If you do not have enough space for the lizard, it will become sick and unhappy.


3. Not Suitable for Petting

When many people get a pet, they look forward to bonding with it. However, Iguanas are not suitable for petting and touching. Even Iguanas that have been exposed to humans from birth do not like being touched. Although you can train Iguanas to tolerate you, they will never truly like to be handled.

As a whole, it is never recommended to hold your Iguana for long periods of time. Petting your Iguana can lead to extreme stress. In times that the Iguana feels threatened, it may even become defensive and try to whip you with its tail.new bearded dragon divider

Is A Pet Iguana Right for Me?

Fiji Banded Iguana
Image Credit: simonprodl, Pixabay

If you are looking for a pet that is fun to watch, unique, and will last many years, the Iguana may be a perfect option. However, you must be okay with the fact that you should not hold your Iguana and that it takes a lot of effort and money to care for properly. If you are on board with these downsides, an Iguana can be a perfect pet.

However, do not get an Iguana if you do not have the skills or financial means to care for it. If you cannot buy all of the needed materials before purchasing your Iguana, you are not ready for Iguana ownership. Similarly, if you find yourself thinking that you will train your Iguana to like cuddling, Iguana is not suitable for you either.

Most importantly, Iguanas are not suitable for children. Even though Iguanas aren’t known to be the most aggressive creatures, children can really stress out and frightened these pets. Plus, they need a whole lot of care and attention that children simply cannot provide.new bearded dragon divider

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, Iguanas make good pets for reptile lovers specifically. Reptile lovers know just how much money and effort is required to care for these long lasting, unique, and beautiful creatures.

Though Iguanas make great pets for reptile lovers, they do not make great pets for all. Iguanas are very bad pets for people who do not have the financial means to care for them, time to provide the proper care, or restraint to leave the Iguanas alone. Iguanas make especially bad pets for children.

With these facts in mind, whether or not an Iguana makes a good pet depends on your definition of a good pet. It is up to you to decide whether these little dinosaurs will fit in with your home.


Featured Image Credit: islavicek, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.