The desert iguana is a famous reptile that belongs to the genus Dipsosaurus Dorsalis, and some people have even adopted them as exotic pets. Something very characteristic of the common iguana is the greenish color, especially when it is younger; although the species of iguana that lives in the desert is more sand-colored, something characteristic of the wild animals that live in the desert.
Most outstanding features of the Iguana
Generally, iguanas measure from 60 to 70 cm; however, some people estimate that it can measure up to 2 meters, something awe-inspiring. However, it is normal for them to weigh up to 15 kilos.
They present a perceptible sexual dimorphism; the males can be differentiated from the females since these have a more prominent crest and also have a bigger and more pronounced dewlap; among other things they have two lumps called hemipenes, which are the reproductive organs of the male reptiles.
However, there is a species of Iguana called “desert iguana“. This wild animal is different from the common Iguana; it is a smaller size, about 30 to 40 cm. So its skin color is cinnamon or light beige, with black patterns on the back; this helps it camouflage itself in its environment.
In what habitat can we find the Iguana?
- The desert iguana, as its name suggests, lives in the arid and desert zones of North America. It is found in habitats with large amounts of sand and intense heat. That is why it is considered one of the bravest wild animals that live in desert areas.
- On the other hand, the common Iguana is distributed more by the humid and jungle zones, of all the American continent. Although also in countries like Venezuela, they can be seen in urbanizations and residential complexes; it is widespread to see them near urbanisms.
What does it feed on?
They are naturally herbivorous animals, although they sometimes consume small insects. However, they love to eat flowers, fruits, and the remains of plants that they find around them.
As for the desert iguana, it is capable of surviving without consuming large amounts of water; since it is capable of storing it in its system and expelling the salt they produce; great, right?
Reproduction and eggs
Iguanas are oviparous, meaning that the fruit of copulation are eggs that the mother will expel; and they will incubate in a period of up to 120 days, depending on how much heat they receive. Females looked for a safe place on the ground and lay between 2 and 10 eggs. And they are left alone from the first moment of incubation.
Already when they hatch, they are completely independent offspring from birth, but very vulnerable to predators.
The iguana is not yet cataloged as an endangered species. However, alarming reports are heard about the decline in its population; mainly by the ingestion of its meat, which is considered a delicacy in certain countries, and by the hunting of its skin.
Relevant Facts about Iguana
- This animal has a third eye, known as the eye or parietal organ. This limb is very functional for regulating the heart rate of the iguana; it also serves to regulate its temperature.
- Common iguanas love to sunbathe for hours, resting on trees. This is because as they are reptiles, they are cold-blooded. So they use the sun’s rays to keep warm. The curious thing about iguanas that live in the desert is that they are commonly placed under rocks and trees, cooling off from the intense heat and high temperatures of the desert; in addition, when moving from one place to another, they do so with impressive speed, to avoid as much as possible being in direct contact with the burning sand.
- Something exciting about both iguana species is that both change their color during the mating season. The common iguana reflects an orange color in the part of its belly; and the desert iguana a pink color.
What is his behavior like?
When in the wild, male iguanas defend their territory very well. They often fight and clash with each other to determine the best places to sunbathe. So they give signs of dominance with their bodies to keep other males away.
Common iguanas are now cataloged as exotic pets, and many people choose them to get out of the routine. If they are bred from an early age, they are usually very docile and calm. If that is your case, you should feed them sprouts of plants, fruits, and vegetables no processed foods. In addition to providing ample space with vegetation and a place to sunbathe, otherwise, they may develop the metabolic bone disease.
Types of desert iguanas
There are 6 different species of Sauromalus, and the most common and known is the Northern Chuckwalla or Sauromalus Ater:
- Sauromalus ater
- Sauromalus australis
- Sauromalus obesus
- Sauromalus slevini
- Sauromalus varius
Desert iguana for sale: Where to buy?
From Wild Animals, we recommend you to adopt this wonderful animal because there are many people who when watching how they grow to decide to leave them.
Another option is the legal and responsible purchase of this wonderful species. It rules out buying from individuals, through the Internet and non-approved sellers. The specialized breeders will advise you about their very specific care, and will also guarantee you a healthy reptile in the right conditions.
Iguana as a Pet: Everything you need to know
Pet iguana is becoming more and more popular. However, before adopting it, we must know all its morphology and type of life. Some buyers buy it because of the striking green color of the young animals and their size close to 50 cms.
However, how big do pet iguanas get? Over time they can reach 1.80 meters, considerable size so it can be a complication if you have a small room.
Morphology of the Iguana
The iguana is an arboreal reptile. When young, it boasts a lovely bright green color, which turns a dull gray tone as it becomes an adult. It always lives near the water and when it is in danger does not hesitate to jump into it, as it is an outstanding swimmer.
Like lizards and other reptiles, the iguana can produce autonomy, that is, it can detach from its tail if it feels grasped by this appendix. Later the tail regenerates and grows again; however, it will never grow as big and beautiful as the original one. Moreover, if you lose it again, it will not grow again.
The iguana lives from both Mexican coasts to the south of the South American continent. It lives for approximately 13 years.
In order to acclimatize the iguana in your home, you will have to recreate mainly all the ideal temperature and humidity conditions for the survival of the animal. You are bearing in mind that the 50 cm that the iguana will have when we adopt it as a pet, it will transform much faster than we think into a colossus of 1.80 meters.
Before acquiring the precious iguana, let us take into account if she and our family have enough space to live together. Your children will also grow up, and they will need more space as they grow older.
The terrarium for the Iguana
The minimum dimensions of the terrarium for your adult iguanas shall be at least 150x160x75 cm. Bearing in mind that the height is more important than the length of the terrarium since inside, you must place a trunk with branches for the animal to climb.
The temperature inside the terrarium will oscillate between 28ºC and 32ºC. During the night when the animal is inactive, you can lower the temperature to 25 degrees.
In the bottom of the terrarium, you will put a layer of gravel of about 11-15 cm, under which all the cables will run: one of the heaters, one of the fluorescents with light UVB 0.5 so that the iguana synthesizes the vitamin D correctly.
The humidity should range between 70-85%, and apart from the drinker, whose water must be changed daily, it is advisable to have a shallow and wide container for bathing.
Apart from the trunk mentioned above, flat stones without edges and non-toxic plants should adorn the terrarium.
Feeding the pet Iguana
When the iguana is young, it eats more often than when it becomes an adult. Aside from insects, it eats fruits, vegetables, leaves, and plants.
The frequency with which we should feed it is 3 times a week, preferably at dusk or in the morning. When she reaches adulthood, she eats less frequently. Adult iguanas are boiling. Your veterinarian will provide you with appropriate feeding guidelines.
Health of the Pet Iguana
Your veterinarian should check your iguana. In the event of a change in colour, that the brightness of your skin is extinguished, or any other change, you should consult your vet without delay so that he can evaluate the alteration.
Occasionally vitamin supplements should be administered, always prescribed by the veterinarian. The professional must also periodically cut the nails so that the claws do not grow crooked.
You must avoid air currents and sudden drops in temperature; the iguana can suffer respiratory infections due to pathogens.
Keep an eye on your iguana’s skin to make sure there are no white dots, a sign that the mites are colonizing the dermis of your iguana. You should bathe your iguana in warm water and then clean the terrarium thoroughly.
Iguanas may have ticks. They should be removed with tweezers.
Training your pet iguana
In order to train your iguana correctly, the first thing you need to do is to learn how to catch it correctly. You will never grab your iguana by the tail as it comes off very easily.
You should hold it gently by the belly at the height of the front legs. Watch the iguana’s attitude, if she tries to hit you using her tail as a whip or aggressively opens her jaws, it will be a sign that she does not want to be disturbed.
In order to train it (which is quite tricky), you should let your iguana run for one hour a day outside the terrarium, always under your supervision. It is time to try to interact with her. After three years, if you are applied, you will get some results.