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Cyclura lewisi hybrid juvenile care sheet.
Congratulations on getting your new baby rock iguana! We hope that your new family member will give you a lot of joy and happiness for many years.
We made this care sheet to cover as many topics as possible to get you started. But if you have any additional questions, please contact us and we will be happy to share our knowledge and experience with you.
Temperature and heat: Juvenile rock iguanas need a hot spot inside the enclosure that gets 105-120F with full spectrum UVB light and a cool side of the cage with ambient temp 80-85F. They should spend some time thermo regulating in the hot zone as well as in the cool zone of the cage through the day. Heat may not be needed during the night if the ambient temperatures don’t fall below 70F. You can set the lights and heat to stay on automatically for 12 hours on and give them 12 hours of night time.
Sunlight: Nothing replaces real sunlight no matter how great the lamps are. When possible it is very highly recommended to give your rock iguana access to real sunlight, even if it is 1 hour a day or once a week during the warm days. You may need to have a portable or permanent outside enclosure like a mesh sunning cage.
Food: We recommend feeding your juvenile rock iguana freshly grown organic greens, vegetables, fruits and flowers with alfalfa supplements. Animal protein is not part of Cyclura lewisi diet and can be harmful and damaging to the iguanas’ health if introduced or fed in captivity. It is very important that iguanas get proper nutrition through their lives and especially the first few years.
Their favorite greens and vegetables are: collard greens, dandelions, mustard greens, turnip greens, russet kale, watercress, tatsoi, bok choy, butternut squash, carrots (occasional only), nasturtium flowers or leaves, hibiscus flowers, fresh figs (when in season), mango, papaya, etc. There are many other plants that can be fed to your iguana.
You can use these pages as a guide for rock iguana diet.
Salad recipe: http://www.anapsid.org/iguana/igdiet.html
We use these proportions when making iguana salad:
80% greens, 20-15% vegetables, NONE-5-10% fruit all year round, plus just a sprinkle of dry alfalfa supplement.
Variety of plants that you can use: http://www.anapsid.org/resources/vegetablenames.html
We recommend chopping greens in very small bite-size pieces that would fit easily in juvenile’s mouth. Hard vegetables like winter squash should be peeled and pureed into consistency of “baby food” and mixed well with greens. As your iguana gets bigger you can adjust the bite sizes accordingly.
Fruits are always popular with iguanas, but please be aware that they will learn to pick the fruit out and will start to ignore the rest of the healthy salad. Fruits are high in sugars and will make small juvenile iguana feel full and not hungry through the day. Especially bananas are very filling and high on potassium. It is too easy to give in and feed them treats all the time, but it will teach your iguana to become a picky eater that can slow down growth and development. We recommend feed fruit not more than 1-2 days a week and only about 2-3 bites to juveniles. You can also use fruit as a treat when teaching your iguana to come to you and taming it.
Please note: greens and vegetables that are high on oxalates, such as spinach, green and red cabbage varieties, varieties of chard, beet greens, parsley… etc. are not recommended and should not be fed often or at all to the juveniles. Foods high in oxalates leach out calcium from the iguana’s system and will inhibit healthy metabolism and growth.
The key is to give them staple greens like collards with variety of other greens that are in seasons. It is good to change it up every week or so based on what is fresh.
We feed 100% fresh with powdered human grade alfalfa for extra protein. We do not feed any animal protein to blue rock iguanas.
Iguanas will also eat a lot of variety of weeds and fresh tree leaves. They particularly like mulberry leaves, some grape leaves, fig tree leaves, pomegranate tree leaves and variety of other fruit tree and bushes leaves.
Water: It’s good to have shallow water dish available inside the cage. Rock iguanas usually don’t drink much water if you feed fresh green diet every day. Iguanas extract moisture from the plants. So, don’t be alarmed if you never see your iguana drinking.
Free roaming: We like to gradually let them get used to free roaming. Babies are more tricky since they are tiny and can hide in tiny cracks. Best places to roam small iguanas are in the closed small rooms or sectioned area of the room or hallway where they can’t escape or hide within furniture. Closet or bathroom works very well, just to make sure there are no small openings or cracks under the cabinets or plumbing. You will be amazed how creative they can be as far as finding places to escape or hide and they can squeeze into tiniest “impossible” openings.
Humidity: Ideally 60-85%. You do not need humidifiers inside the cage, rock iguanas do well with just regular room humidity, even if it’s 40% or less. But if it’s too dry, you can sprinkle or mist the cage once a day or during the shed times to help them peel. Occasional bath is also good and will help to hydrate your iguana during dry season or if it needs help with shedding.
Bath: Fill up the tub with warm (not hot) water 75-90F to a level that iguana can swim and also stand if it needs rest. Bathe for 10-20 min. Hot water can kill or can cause permanent damage to your iguana, especially juvenile, so please be careful and if in doubt, use thermometer or make it cooler.
Shedding: Juvenile rock iguanas should be shedding every few weeks and may even appear that they are constantly in shed for the first two-three years. Shedding will be in segments and various body parts at different times. It is normal. As your rock iguana grows it will be shedding less often to a point of being once or twice a year and will shed in larger sections.
Substrate: Babies are better kept on paper (to prevent them swallowing anything that can cause digestion problems or clog up their small stomachs or cause deadly impaction). We like to use plain butcher’s paper or packaging type of paper or thick paper towels. Personally we do not like using newspapers due to inks that rub-off. Iguanas may get attracted to colored inks and lick that stuff and can swallow thin pieces of paper. As iguanas get older 1-2 years old, you can use regular large iguana substrate. We have been using coconut husk and bark “coco soft”, but you can use moss, sand, clean dirt or nothing. They will dig if there is something to dig, but not necessarily need that.
Potty training: Rock iguanas are instinctively “organized” animals. They actually like clean cages and will learn not to poop where they sleep, bask or live. Even very young iguanas will learn to hold their poop till taken out of the cage. The concept is very simple and it works!
This is how you potty train your rock iguana.
You need to be patient and consistent every single day till your iguana learns the concept that you are actually helping it to poop.
Pick a time of the day that you can handle your iguana (preferably after they have been fed and warmed up) and stick to that time as much as possible every day.
Take your iguana from the cage and place it in the tub or deep sink or designated area right away. Iguana will poop within a few minutes right away instinctively.
At first iguana will be pooping because juvenile iguana will be nervous from being handled and carried to a new place.
Iguanas poop not only when they have to go, but also when they are nervous from being handled. So, in the beginning you may get pooped on till they learn that you are not a predator and not going to eat them.
But as you do this every day, your iguana will no longer be nervous, and it will learn the habit of being picked up and will like the fact that it is being able to poop outside the cage.
We have been doing this with all of our iguanas and very rarely they have accidents inside the cages.
Move: Rock iguanas do not like change. They are animals of habits and don’t always acclimate to a new room, house or cage right away. Some may adjust faster than others; it will depend on your iguana’s personality. It may take days, weeks and even months for your iguana to get used to new surroundings if you move the cage or change the place of residence. Sometimes they will spend more time hiding and not much eating in the beginning. But they should adjust with time.
Handling: When handling your juvenile rock iguana you can expect some squirming, wiggling and clawing. As your iguana gets used to you it will feel more relaxed and less nervous. Juvenile iguanas have very sharp needle like claws, so if you have sensitive skin you should wear gloves. Biting usually is not typical for our juvenile iguanas since we handle them and tame them from the day they hatch. DO NOT grab, hold or pick-up your iguana by the tail, it can break off or get injured.
Nesting: If you happen to have a female, she will need a large sand box or container for egg laying once a year. And we can help you with info on what works and set-up when the time is right. Females can lay as early as 2nd year for the first time or 3rd or 4th. Usually it’s 3rd 4th year.
Good luck and wishing you all the best!