Reptile Function

How to prevent iguana escape while transferring between cages

Over the time I have heard several different stories from the iguana and cyclura owners telling how their iguanas escaped while outside one way or another.

Some stories were about iguanas squeezing out through the tiny holes in the outside cages and taking off with the speed of lightning. And some stories were about iguana squirming out of hands while handling it outside or transferring it by hand and carrying iguana from the house into the outside enclosure.

For example, it happened to me and my Rock Iguana Yasha several years ago when she was still small and only about a year old. At this age cycluras are still small and exhibit unpredictable behavior while handling or while taking them around into different rooms or outside. A lot of surrounding environment still looks unfamiliar to them and they will most likely panic and try to escape from your hands.

So, what happened, Yasha (cyclura) wiggled out of my hands once when I was taking her into outside cage that was on the patio. She took off through the crack into the neighbor’s patio. Luckily, they were home and it was fenced in. We were able to catch her. My stomach drops if I even think about it.

Let me tell you, small iguanas are fast and unpredictable. They can run into tiny openings and wedge into narrow cracks. And no matter how secure you think you hold them there is the chance that they will scrape you up or squirm out of your hands in some unpredictable way, especially if you have not been handling reptiles for very long or if you are still getting to know your new cyclura or iguana.

So, what can be done to prevent such an escape?

The solution is rather easy.

First, inspect the outside cage for all the potential escape holes and make sure there are no openings big enough for your cyclura to squeeze through. Double-check, triple-check if you have to and make sure the screen or fence material you are using is made of very small holes, not bigger than 1/2″ – 1″ and your iguana can’t put it’s head through the holes.

Second, use the transferring container. What we came up with is to use a portable box/container with the latching lid for iguana transfer between the house and the outside cage. You can also use a portable pet/doggie carrier or a large sack with ties or a duffle bag with zipper. You get the idea.

Storage container that we use to transport iguanas

Storage container that we use to transport iguanas between cages

We take the iguana, put her in the portable box while still inside the house. Close the box.

Take the box into outside cage. Walk into the cage (our outside cage is a walk-in), close  and secure the entrance door.

Open the box and release the iguana into the outside cage, preferably to the farthest area from the door.

Watch and wait till iguana moves away from the door.

Carefully open the door and step outside the cage. Immediately close the door behind you.

Use the same principle when taking iguana back home.

You still have to be careful exiting, watch your iguana and make sure it’s not near the door while you are going in or out the cage.

If you really want to be careful and safe and you have a permanent built outside inclosure, you can use the double-door entrance like they have at the bird vivariums.

Before we had a walk-in outside cage we used a small aluminum light-weight bird cage for our very young and small cyclura babies. At that time we would put the iguanas into cage/inclosure while still inside the house, lock it and then take the whole inclosure with babies outside. This works well if you need to give your babies natural sun UVs but had not have a chance to build a large outside cage yet.

If you do not have an outside cage and still would like to take your iguana outside, you can use the harness and leash. You can check here the harness and leash that we had been using successfully for our cyclura.

I hope these tips will help you to prevent the escape of your iguana. If you have other tips, please leave a comment below.

One thought on “How to prevent iguana escape while transferring between cages

  1. Pingback: Learned behavior, Cyclura Bella Blue figures out what the box is for. | Reptile Function

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