Animal House: The Cold Blooded Truth About Iguanas | WGLT

Animal House: The Cold Blooded Truth About Iguanas

May 24, 2016

Natasha from PetCo. holds an iguana, an amazing and complicated lizard.
Credit Laura Kennedy / WGLT

If any reptile was ready for its close up, it's the iguana.  But are you ready for this critter?

  • Before the advent of CGI in movies, the iguana was often used as a dinosaur in Hollywood films.  The lizard's show biz creds are impressive, but it's also just a fascinating creature on its own.  
  • Natasha, reptile expert from Pet Co. in Normal, has been a long-time lover of the animal, having grown up with one.  She's acquainted with the various moods of the iguana and noted while it's a great pet, you really have to know what you're getting into with the reptile.  This is no starter lizard!
  • The iguana must be carefully socialized to help it become a friendly member of your household.  The iguana can be aggressive when not properly socialized.  You need to build a good bond with your reptile by holding it firmly but gently.  And make sure they have plenty of room to grow,  because grow they will, possibly up to six feet in length!  A well-socialized pet will be sweet and can live a decade or more.
  • Iguana's eat greens -- all sorts of greens, and lots of 'em. Natasha once owned an iguana that had a fondness for applesauce!  So strictly the veggie route with this character.
  • Iguana's are susceptible to salmonella and need twice-yearly visits to the vet to keep healthy.
  • This lizard is pretty smart -- they can learn their names, plus be litter box trained.  But no. they won't do your taxes for you.
  • Never grab or lift an iguana by the tail -- it will break off and the iguana won't thank you for that.
  • The occasional bath helps the iguana to shed its skin, plus you'll need to clip the lizard's nails.
  • Heat lamps above the iguana's tank will help it keep warm.
    This is Marie, the Animal House Pet of the Week. She's up for adoption at Wish Bone Canine Rescue in Bloomington.
    Credit Valerie Wellin / Wish Bone Canine Rescue
  • While you can purchase an iguana for about $25, that's just the beginning.  You'll need to keep getting larger enclosures as your pet grows, plus heat lamps, food, vet visits and so on.  An iguana is a big investment.  And, yes, they're really cool pets, too!  Just make sure you're ready to add this complicated critter to your life.