All About National Iguana Awareness Day (8 September)

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What is National Iguana Awareness Day About? 

Every September 8, we observe National Iguana Awareness Day. The day is the ideal opportunity to learn more about caring for your pet iguana. You may pick up advice on caring for your iguana and learn some grooming techniques.

Iguanas are excellent pets for people with limited space. If they get the proper care and attention, these cold-blooded reptiles can become wonderful and loving pets for a very long time.

Green iguana sitting on a tree stump

The Origins and History Behind National Iguana Awareness Day

It is difficult to determine the origin of the celebrations that take place on National Iguana Awareness Day; nonetheless, it is reasonable to believe that the day educates pet owners on the best ways to care for their pet iguanas and guarantees that they have a long and healthy life. 

This day is essential not just for people who own iguanas but also for everyone with a strong interest in reptiles. Iguanas are intriguing creatures. They are cold-blooded reptiles with great active tails, but if you aggravate them in any way, you risk receiving a painful bite from one of these animals. 

You can only find Iguanas in their natural habitat in South and Central America. It is believed that iguanas first arrived in the United States on cargo ships from South America. Iguanas have become as common in the Florida Keys as squirrels are in the Midwest of the United States, thanks to their numbers growing at an alarming rate over many years. 

These colorful cold-blooded reptiles have no protection from people hunting or keeping them as pets in the United States of America, even though they have been in existence for a significant amount of time. Many people in Florida have brought these iguanas into their homes and raised them as pets. 

Even while the people who own iguanas may have good intentions, not all new owners of these newborn iguanas are aware that even the tiniest iguana can eventually grow scales and reach a length of up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length. Iguanas have particular nutritional requirements; thus, they require specialized care to thrive. 

It is simple to develop affection for an iguana and teach young children about them, but providing proper care for these colorless, cold-blooded reptiles is not a simple task.

A Bit About Pet Iguanas

Iguanas are among the most common kind of lizards that people keep as pets. You can find them only in South and Central America. On the other hand, Iguanas are a significant commitment and require a lot of care. 

They have stringent requirements for their diet and the environment in which they reside, have the potential to become fairly powerful, and can live for a very long time. In addition, they can be tough to tame, and if you do not handle them frequently enough, they may develop an aggressive nature.

Do Iguanas Have Three Eyes?

No. There’s no such thing as a three-eyed iguana. They have two eyes, like most other animals, positioned on the sides of their head to give them a wide field of vision. The third “eye” that some people refer to is actually a photosensitive organ on the top of their head called the parietal eye, which helps them detect changes in light levels and may also play a role in regulating their circadian rhythms.

In celebration of National Iguana Awareness Day, you can read up on more interesting facts.

an iguana eye up close

Iguana Personality and Behavioural Traits

Iguanas kept as pets can never be fully domesticated animals, and most of them will attempt to flee from their enclosures and your house at some point. Iguanas that you keep as pets need you to pick them up and hold them frequently to tame them. 

This allows the iguanas to become accustomed to their surroundings and develop confidence in their caretakers. On the other hand, this can be difficult to accomplish because they frequently regard human touch as odd and may oppose it. Therefore, it is essential to handle your iguana with caution and patience.

Adult iguanas frequently become incredibly passive and submissive, at least in situations in which they do not perceive that they are in danger. Iguana babies are agile, though. When they are free to roam outside their enclosure, some iguanas may find it more enjoyable to climb on their humans. 

If your pet iguana enjoys this behavior, you should protect yourself by wearing protective gear because they have sharp claws. In addition to that, the tail of an iguana has the potential to cause serious injury. The tail of an adult iguana has the tensile strength to fracture a human bone. 

Iguanas are still powerful creatures, even though this happens only infrequently. When handling them, pay close attention to any signs of struggling or hostility, especially if there are youngsters or other animals in the room.

Caring for an Iguanas This National Iguana Awareness Day

Housing the Iguana

Iguanas can reach a maximum length of 7 feet (2.1 meters) when you measure from the tip of their tail to the tip of their nose, and their average body weight is about 20 pounds (9.1 kilograms). People who begin their experience with an infant iguana are frequently happy with its maturity. 

Therefore, an aquarium or a small reptile cage is not a suitable place for a juvenile iguana to call home for an extended period. Most enclosures for housing iguanas do not provide sufficient space for these animals. Many people who own iguanas choose to have custom-built cages for their pets. 

These enclosures typically feature multiple ramps, shelves, and branches that the tree-dwelling species may scale. The dimensions of an appropriate habitat for a single iguana are approximately 12 feet (3.7 meters) in length, 6 feet (1.8 meters) in width, and 8 feet (2.4 meters) in height. 

Many individuals even decide to turn an entire room or a large closet into an environment for their iguanas to live in. Suppose you want to maintain the enclosure that your iguana lives in clean. In that case, you should remove any uneaten food, feces, shed skin, and other debris visible daily. 

In addition to that, make sure you clean the food and water dishes every day. While you clean the primary enclosure once a week, you should move your iguana to a temporary cage for the duration of that time. 

Throw away the substrate, the bedding that soaks up waste and odors, and use a pet-safe cleaner to scrub surfaces and decorations, such as rocks. Before reassembling the enclosure, you should wait until everything has had ample time to dry completely.

Best Bedding for Iguanas

The best bedding for iguanas should be safe, comfortable, and easy to maintain. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Reptile carpet: This is a popular choice for iguana bedding as it is soft, non-abrasive, and easy to clean. Reptile carpet is also inexpensive and can be cut to fit the size of your iguana’s enclosure.
  2. Newspaper or paper towels: These materials are absorbent and easy to replace, making them a convenient and low-cost option for iguana bedding. However, they may not be as comfortable for your iguana to walk on compared to other materials.
  3. Coconut coir: This is a natural substrate made from coconut husks that is safe for iguanas to ingest if they accidentally ingest it. Coconut coir is also absorbent, non-toxic, and helps maintain humidity levels in the enclosure.
  4. Alfalfa pellets: These can be used as a substrate for iguana bedding, as they are absorbent, easy to clean, and provide a soft surface for your iguana to walk on.
Grey iguana sitting on coconut noir inside enclosure

It’s important to avoid using loose substrate such as sand, gravel, or wood chips, as these can pose a risk of impaction if ingested by your iguana. Additionally, avoid using cedar or pine shavings, as these can release harmful chemicals and cause respiratory problems for your iguana.


You can find Iguanas in tropical environments. It is comfortable basking at temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius), and the temperature in its environment should never go below 75 degrees Fahrenheit (2.3 degrees Celsius). To digest its food effectively, the iguana requires a temperature of approximately 85 degrees Fahrenheit (2.7 degrees Celsius). 

It is vital to keep a constant eye on this aspect, especially if you are modifying the environment of an entire room to accommodate its natural habitat. To attain the ideal temperature, you can use heat lamps, positioning them no more than one foot (0.3 meters) away from basking ledges. (Be sure to follow the directions provided with your specific light).


A significant amount of illumination is a requirement for a huge enclosure. To ensure that your iguana receives the correct light exposure for 10 to 12 hours each day, you should use UVB bulbs specifically for reptiles. This simulates the benefits it would receive from natural sunlight, specifically the stimulation of vitamin D production. 

When lighting large enclosures or rooms, mercury vapor bulbs, or rooms. In contrast, compact fluorescent lights or tubes are better for lighting tiny enclosures. Your tree-dwelling iguana will have no problem climbing up the large branches and shelves in the cage to bask in the light.


Iguanas require an atmosphere with a humidity level of at least 70% to thrive. You can raise the level of humidity in the environment that your iguana lives in by installing a mister or adding a pool of water to the enclosure. To keep the skin on your iguana healthy and improve the humidity in the environment, you should shower your iguana twice daily.


Iguanas do well when you provide them with a wood substrate, sometimes known as bedding. They do not spend the majority of their time burrowing in their bedding because they are a species that lives in trees and spends most of their time climbing.

Food and Water

Iguanas need to eat fresh food to maintain their health. They don’t eat anything with animal protein, not even insects. Iguanas are susceptible to kidney failure when they consume protein-rich diets.

In addition to a high-quality pelleted commercial meal, you should offer your iguana some fruit, dark leafy greens, and a calcium supplement. In addition, there should always be a clean water supply available for the iguanas. Always follow the recommendations of a veterinarian you trust regarding the amount of food you should give your pet to keep their weight healthy.

It is essential to remember that iguanas swallow their food without first chewing it; therefore, you must provide them with finely chopped or shredded food. Take out and throw away any food your pet leaves for twenty-four hours without eating.

Common Health and Behavior Problems

Like most pet reptiles, iguanas carry salmonella. This indicates salmonella is present in the iguana’s digestive tract. It can transmit to humans if they contact an iguana or objects in its habitat.

When working with iguanas, it is imperative to observe proper hygiene procedures. Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after spending time with your pet, and steer clear of touching your face. This should stop the disease from spreading in the vast majority of instances. 

However, you should take further measures if elderly individuals, pregnant women, young children, or anyone with impaired immune systems live in your house. It’s possible that an iguana wouldn’t make the best pet for your household. Iguanas frequently suffer from kidney illness, often brought on by a lack of fluids. 

Take your iguana to the veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice that it is lethargic, has swelling on its body, or is drinking or urinating more frequently than usual. Iguanas often suffer from metabolic bone disease due to low calcium and vitamin D, which is another reason they need access to UVB illumination and calcium supplements.

In addition, many iguanas fall victim to respiratory illnesses since their natural environments are excessively cold. If you handle them correctly daily, most iguanas can behave domestically. They feel most at ease when they follow a set pattern, as this gives them a sense of stability. 

However, they possess a powerful sense of self-defense; if they perceive danger, they will bite, scratch, and whip their tails.

Iguana basking under a light in a cage

How to Tame an Iguana?

Taming an iguana requires patience, consistency, and proper handling techniques. Here are some steps you can take to help tame an iguana:

  1. Start by creating a comfortable environment for the iguana, with a warm basking spot, hiding places, and a source of water.
  2. Spend time near the iguana’s enclosure so it can get used to your presence and scent. Offer food from your hand or place it near the iguana, but avoid sudden movements or touching.
  3. Once the iguana is comfortable eating near you, try offering food from your hand and slowly move your hand closer to the iguana.
  4. As the iguana becomes more comfortable with you, you can try picking it up using proper handling techniques. Use slow, gentle movements and support its body with both hands, being careful not to squeeze or startle the iguana.
  5. Continue to handle the iguana regularly and offer positive reinforcement in the form of treats or praise when it behaves calmly.

Remember that iguanas are not naturally domesticated animals, and it can take time to build trust and establish a bond with them. Always approach them calmly and avoid sudden movements or loud noises that may startle them. If an iguana is scared, you might end up in the ER with an iguana tail whip injury to one of your body parts.

If you are having difficulty taming an iguana, consider seeking advice from a reptile specialist or veterinarian.

What Diseases do Iguanas Carry?

Iguanas can carry several diseases that can be transmitted to humans, including:

  1. Salmonella: Iguanas, like many reptiles, can carry Salmonella bacteria in their digestive tract without showing symptoms. People can contract Salmonella by coming into contact with the reptile’s feces, contaminated surfaces, or food.
  2. Campylobacteriosis: Iguanas can also carry Campylobacter bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, cramping, and fever in humans.
  3. Leptospirosis: This bacterial infection can be transmitted to humans through contact with the iguana’s urine, leading to symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and vomiting.
  4. Cryptosporidiosis: Iguanas can carry Cryptosporidium parasites in their digestive tract, which can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps in humans.

It’s important to practice good hygiene when handling iguanas or cleaning their enclosure, including washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling them, avoiding contact with their feces, and disinfecting surfaces regularly. If you suspect that you have contracted a disease from an iguana or any other reptile, seek medical attention immediately.

Celebrating National Iguana Awareness Day

Adopt an Iguana

Are you thinking of getting a new pet? If the space in your flat is small or you don’t have the time to take your dog for walks, an iguana can be your perfect companion animal. National Iguana Awareness Day is ideal for welcoming a new family member into your home.

Trend It on Social Media

You should post photos of your iguana on social media with the hashtag #NationalIguanaAwarenessDay. Inspire the same behavior in the owners of other animals.

Learn to Care for an Iguana Properly

You may spend the day researching how to properly care for an iguana if you are certain that you want to bring one into your home as a pet. Educating yourself on proper health care and grooming practices is critical to ensure that your pet lives a long and happy life.

Five Mind-Blowing Iguana Facts for National Iguana Awareness Day

They Each Have Three Eyes

Iguanas feature what appears to be a third eye perched atop their heads.

They are Social Creatures

Iguanas are very gregarious animals that prefer to live and consume their food in groups.

They are Vegan

Iguanas will only consume vegetation, including plants, fruits, leaves, and flowers, and they will very seldom consume insects.

They Can Kill Themselves

Iguanas have the potential to kill themselves if they believe their owner is not providing adequate care for them.

People Consume Them as Food

Some people use green iguanas to prepare a unique specialty dish known as “Bamboo Chicken.”

Reasons to Love National Iguana Awareness Day

A Day to Honor and Appreciate Our Pets

Iguanas are peaceful lizards that make wonderful pets, and National Iguana Awareness Day honors their kind nature. Today is when you show your iguana a little more affection than usual.

It Instructs Us on How to Care for Our Animals

Have trouble figuring out how to care for your iguana properly? National Iguana Awareness Day is the ideal time to brush up on your knowledge of how to care for iguanas. Today is the perfect time to learn some practical iguana-keeping techniques.

Increases Our Capacity for Empathy

A day whose primary purpose is to educate people on how to care for iguanas properly ought to also instill a sense of compassion for the other species with whom we share the earth. The purpose of National Iguana Awareness Day is to cultivate kindness in all of us.

Green iguana sitting on green lawn

The Final Say

What’s not to like about an aggressive, cold-blooded reptile with a powerful tail and a vicious bite? On September 8, National Iguana Awareness Day, people may educate themselves on these lovable creatures and learn how to care for them properly.

When new owners bring their newborn iguanas home for the first time, it is not uncommon for some of them to be unaware of the responsibilities of owning such a large pet. This tiny bundle of scales has the potential to become a six feet (1.8 meters) long creature someday. 

Iguanas are easy to love yet tricky to care for due to their particular nutritional requirements and somewhat reptilian personalities.

The ideal time to learn; how to maintain your iguana tame and friendly, how to care for its health and personal grooming, and how to house it in a comfortable environment is on National Iguana Awareness Day. An iguana can be a lovely and satisfying pet for many years if you give it the right amount of care and attention.