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Iguanas/My red iguana

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QUESTION: I just bought my red iguana 4 days ago. I had to drive 1 hr 30 min to go get him bec they were the only place that had any at the time. So I got all brand new supply's at this store brought him home and everything has been great until yesterday. I found mites on him. I called the place up and they said they couldn't do anything about it, even though they sold me him with mites because I bought a brand new cage, lights, substrate and everything for him. So I went to my local pet shop and picked up a bottle of "zoo med mite off". The lady told me to spray him and everything down with it. So I gave him a bath, re baked his sticks, and changed his bedding. I then started to rub the solutions on his head being extreamly careful not to get near his eyes or mouth. I then started spraying him from his head down to his tail making sure I got in every skin fold. So I put him back and he seemed a little mad but ok. This morning I prepared his food, it wasn't the regular lettuce I was feeding him. I peeled Yuka root and gave him some of that in his food dish. I came home from work and he's been acting really sluggish and he wasn't at his usual basketing spot like he always is. He was laying on a lower branch, so I picked him up and he seemed cold and he's just not acting like he usual does and Im starting to get worried, but I'm a worry wart when it comes to these things. I just wanted to ask maybe why he was, or if I might have got some of the mite off in his system and he might be sick? Idk. Please contact me as soon as you an so I can stop worrying about this.

ANSWER: Hi Tyler,
I am not a fan of most of those mite treatment products.  They contain chemicals that can make the reptiles ill. The ONLY product I recommend for mite removal is from a company called NATURAL CHEMISRTY and the product is called "REPTILE RELIEF" It is an all natural product and it works wonderfully.  Of course, as with all medications, it is important to follow directions. In addition to being in a new home, your ig has the stress of being treated for the mites which means he has been handled much more than recommended when coming into a new home. What I recommend doing is bathing him.... then washing off everything that you sprayed with that other stuff... give him a day or two and then treat with the product I recommended.
If he still acts "off" in the next day or so, I recommend a vet visit before doing any more treatments..but...do bathe him and wash off everything in his cage.
He may just be stressed which is why he is acting like he is but..he can be having a reaction to the mite spray you used.  Doesn't the product tell you to rinse your ig and everything after spraying?
I am also going to include a basic care sheet that I wrote to help people out with caring for their iguanas.  A few comments you made leads me to believe that you may have been given some incorrect care info from the pet stores.
Also....it is VERY normal to worry!!!  I have 3 and it can get a bit crazy!
BASIC CARE OF THE GREEN IGUANA©:

Iguanas have many, many special care needs..when those needs are not met, iguanas will suffer in many ways...which can include metabolic bone disease, no growth,kidney and liver disease....and death...its important to give an iguana all the recommended care to help them thrive in captivity....below is the basic care an iguana needs...anything less and they will not do well in captivity.. If their care is not right...they will not be active or eat..PLEASE read the entire care sheet...and print it out if needed...also be sure to read the enclosed links I listed at the bottom.....

HOUSING:
Don't let the pet store tell you that an ig will only grow as big as the cage it is in!!! That's NOT true!!! Don't waste your money on a 10 gallon tank...that's big enough to bring them home in, but that's about it. To give you an idea how fast they grow, an iguana will outgrow a 75 gallon tank within the first year. Start with nothing smaller than a 55 gallon tank,but, since iguanas are arboreal, a tank does not offer the height an iguana needs.That's a very good reason to start with a cage that is bigger.The size that is required for an adult iguana is 6-7 feet high, at least 6-7 feet wide and no less than 3 feet deep.Its important to remember air circulation and also that you have to keep the humidity up. Also, that you have to be able to provide the lighting and heating from the top, so a screen or mesh top is needed, or a solid top with holes cut out and covered with screen for the lights to shine through.(the screen covering the opening prevents the ig from being able to touch the heat source) If not, you will harm your ig health wise.


LIGHTING:

Supplying uvb can be done in a few ways. By special lights that come in fluorescent tubes or special screw in bulbs (mercury vapor)that are designed to produce uvb and heat. The tubes do not produce heat. UVB is needed by the Iguanas to be able to absorb the calcium in the foods they eat. With out the uvb, they will develop metabolic bone disease. There are tubes that say ''full spectrum'' but they do not produce any uvb.
With the correct tubes, they must say that they produce BOTH uvb and uva. The uvb needs to be 5% or higher. Repti Sun 10.0 and the Repti Glo 8.0's are a great source for uvb. The old "favorites" are the repti sun 5.0 or the Iguana light..which are the same tube, just different package. These need to be positioned 6-8 inches over the iguana for the 5% and 8% and 8-10 inches for the 10% so that they get the uvb that is needed.  The tubes need to be replaced every 6-9 months as that they stop producing UVB long before they stop producing light.Using a fixture that holds two uvb tubes of at least 3 feet in length will provide adequate uvb for your iguana. On the mercury vapor , they also produce heat. They also produce the uvb and uva. The best on the market now are the Mega Rays.( http://www.reptileuv.com) The distance from these are greater than the uvb tubes and the directions must be followed that are listed for the light. When using the mercury vapor lights, you don't need to have one light for uvb and one for heat. The Mercury vapor lights provide both.

For daytime heat, if using the tube uvb, regular household incandescent light bulbs produce heat. I like the halogen bulbs as they produce a nice bright light for your ig. The wattage will depend on the size of your iguanas enclosure. and the room temperature.Of course, the best uvb is from the sun and if you are in an area that you are able to take your iguana outside in a proper enclosure, (Never a tank or enclosed, solid cage)


BASKING AREA TEMPERATURES:

Igs MUST HAVE a basking light...they digest their food by the heat.

This light/heat can be provided by a regular halogen bulb or lights that are sold as basking lights. Depending on the size of the cage, you may need anywhere from a 60 watt to a 100 watt bulb. If you use a mercury vapor bulb for the uvb, that also provides heat, but it still may be necessary to use another light/heat source to maintain proper temperatures throughout the cage.

The basking area temps must be maintained at about 92 to 96 gradient ...no lower..no higher...they NEED the heat to digest their food!! If the temperatures are too low, digestion is slowed, too high and the food digests too fast and nutrition is not utilized as it should be.

This, again, is for 12 hours of daylight (the same time your UVB lights are on).You can place this bulb in a silver dome fixture(be sure it has the ceramic socket) and it MUST be placed so that your ig cannot climb on it..or touch it. On top of your screen cage is safe but..if your ig likes to hang from the top of the cage..you will have to raise it up some how to prevent burns. Remember..if you must move it, monitor the temps again!!!!!!

This cannot be stressed enough. In order to maintain those temps,it is VERY important to use thermometers. Using a GOOD digital is a necessity!!

A THERMOMETER IS A MUST!! It needs to be at the igs level....where he lays in the basking area to see what the temp is there...if your thermometer is NOT where he lays,you will get an improper reading for his basking area and you will burn your ig (watch for panting or mouth gaping open - signs of overheating)or the temperatures in the basking area will not be in the correct range. The best are the digital ones that have the probe. Some also give the humidity reading along with the temperature in two different areas.

You will need a basking shelf or branch. The placement of this depends on what height you need to maintain the temps mentioned above and keep your iguana within the recommended distance of the uvb source. Be sure to make it at least twice the width of the ig. Keep in mind the distance the UVB light needs to be from the ig also. This is almost the hardest area of the cage to get correct..it requires a lot of monitoring of the temps until YOU ARE SURE they are correct.

WATER:
Keep a shallow dish of fresh water for your ig at all times.

Some igs will 'poo' in their water dishes, so you may have to change it more than once/day. Providing a 2nd water source, such as some type of low pan for a small ig, or a cat litter box(filled with water) for an adult ig is a good idea.Keep water shallow enough that your ig can touch the bottom freely, as too many younger igs have been known to actually drown!

HUMIDITY:
Igs do need to have humidity. They are mostly of the Tropical Rain Forest.
This means you need a humidity gage.   50% is the minimum... I wouldn't go above 70-75%, although most of us can't get that high...that's why misting your ig several times a day helps. You can use humidifiers or vaporizers can be necessary to get a humidity level that is needed. Also, what I have found that works best for me at least is to have my igs humidifiers(warm mist) on timers.  The timers are about $6-7 each and you can set them in 1/2 hour incruments.  I have mine set to run for 1/2 hour every few hours during the day. This seems to work well.

TEMPERATURES:
Basically, temperatures in the entire cage need to be varied, sort of like in "zones". The basking area (branch or shelf nearest the heat source) has already been covered.

You need to have a gradient temp in the area of 75-96. Sound confusing? Basically, you need the "basking" area, a middle temp area and a cool area. Basking area..92-96.....mid range gradient temp..88-92 (Ambient)and cool side 75-84.Igs cannot regulate their body temps. They rely on the sun (natural or by way of light bulb) and the shade (cooler area of the cage) to do that.
NIGHT..... LIGHTS OUT!!!!!! At night, if the temperatures drop below 75-80 degrees(depending on the iguana age)you need to provide a heat source in the form of a ceramic heat emitter(which can also be used during the day) or a special nighttime bulb(red or deep purple) that does not produce any bright white light.Some iguanas do not like the colored lights and do try to hide from them. Its up to you to see this and switch to a ceramic heat emitter to prevent your iguana stressing.
DIET:
Iguana Iguanas are herbivores.... They DO NOT need animal protein, they cannot digest it... it will KILL them!! (Kidney disease)
Basically, the diet needs to consist of Collard Greens, mustard greens, turnip greens,dandelion greens,escarole, endive, chicory, arugula,(torn in pieces smaller than their head) winter squash (butternut or acorn squash), parsnips (grated or shredded) all placed in a shallow dish. (This is not a complete foods list, but is a good start.)
There are 'good' foods and foods for treats (those used only once in awhile). Fruits are treats..to be given a few times a week. (This doesn't mean that you cannot give your ig a piece of fruit every day..one small piece a day is fine.) Again,I cannot stress enough the importance of diet. NO COMMERCIAL prepared ig food..no bugs, worms, tuna, chicken, monkey biscuits,dog or cat foods, eggs, cottage cheese... NO animal protein!!!!!

SUBSTRATES:

This is what you use on the floor of your igs enclosure.

DO NOT USE anything that is bark, litter,chips...no loose substrates!!...Many are toxic and more so, your ig will ingest these items and it will KILL them. You can use paper bags, newspaper, paper towels, no pile carpeting or towels(wash first,and be sure there are no loose strings )

HEAT ROCKS KILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!they can overheat, they cause burns (igs cannot feel the heat) they will KILL... if you have one and you ig loves it.cut off the cord and place it on his basking shelf and it will absorb the heat of the basking light. Never use heat rocks or heated caves!!!!

This list is by no means complete!!!! Below are listed some very good informational sites.They will be with us for 15-20 plus years with proper care and a little luck. Providing them with the proper needs will help them live a long, healthy, and happy life. Remember, we are the ones that pulled them out of the natural environments..it's our job to give them as close to a natural habitat as possible.

http://www.iguanaden.org/

http://www.greenigsociety.org/

http://anapsid.org/ (contains some outdated information on uvb)

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BabyIguana/ a yahoo group dedicated to raising baby iguanas

Find a Vet before you need one!!! Reptiles need Vets trained to treat them..to find one in your area:

http://www.herpvetconnection.com

http://www.arav.org/ECOMARAV/timssnet/amm/tnt_mdsearch.cfm

http://www.anapsid.org/vets/


The information contained in the care sheet was originally written by me for use at the iguanaden website(2003) and also in the book"The Iguana Den's Care and Keeping of Giant Green Iguanas"(2005)


If you have any  questions, or don't understand something please let me know





---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

The spot on his back is getting a shadow around it
The spot on his back i  
QUESTION: Do you know what this is, it started off as the grey spot right on his back, but after I treated him for mites, it's getting a dark shadow around it. He is shedding on his chest area

ANSWER: Hi Tyler,
Could he have pushed up against his heat source?  It looks like he may have gotten burned a bit.  Other possibility is that it is from mite bites.. It can also be an area that hasn't shed for some reason... I would use the Neosporin or Bacitracin ointment on it.  If it continues to get larger, or doesn't show improvement, then I would have a vet take a look at it.
Given the fact that it is in the spikes, mites would have liked to attack that area.
My one ig actually gets two spots like that...once she sheds they do away...but..they have never gotten bigger than what it started out as..about the size of a pencil eraser tip. I use the neosporin on the areas which helps with the shedding also.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I think my igunana is taking a turn for the worst. I put neosporin on the spot on his back. And he's been acting perfectly fine in that case. But he's been eating a lot lately, his belly looks like he's pregnant. His poop has been a yellowish color. I've been feeding him mostly lettuce, Yuka root, and strawberries (on occasion) I've been misting him close to 5-6 times a day, due to the air is very dry this time of year. It's about 60 degrees in my room. 70.4 at the coolest part of the cage, and clost to 95 at the hottest. He normaly is basking in his little hammock I but out of a clean red bandana attached to a stick. On occasion he will be laying on the other sticks closer to the bottom of the cage. He just started this about, 4-6 days ago. I haven't been able to monitor him at night because I'm usually asleep, but right now I'm awake and he's lying under the one stick in the shade, he looks exhausted. I've never seen him do this before in the couple of weeks I had him. He has not been drinking any water I put in his water dish. He does have a bark substrate, due to the fact some pet stores don't know what they are doing. Once I get enough money ill be getting him a coconut fiber substrate. I've been giving him his vitamins about 2 times a week. I also do not have a night bulb for him at the moment . Idk all of his behaviors bec I just got him, and I'm new to raising iguanas, and I have to go to school 7 hours a day, but I make sure he has a big bowl of food before I leave and a fresh bowl of water, even though he doesn't drink it. I also make sure I mist him as soon as I wake up, before I leave for the day, and as soon as I get home, as well as several times during the evening hours, and right before I go to bed. I'm new to this whole iguana thing and I know the basics I'm just worried for my little guy and don't want him to die. He's become my best buddie. And I worry a lot especially when I don't know much about iguanas. I hold him every day for at least an hour. I let him crawl anywhere his little heart disires as long as I can see him and he's in arms length. He likes crawling up my arm, liking me about twice and resting there. If you think I might be over worrying then tell me lol, I worry a lot. Any info will help and greatly appreciated. If I'm not doing something right or I'm just a bad iguana owner I need to know what I can do to fix that lol. Be straight and upfront. Thank you again for reading my question for the 3rd time in less then 2 weeks.

Answer
Hi Tyler,
First off, I want to suggest that you re read the care info above. As you will see, I DO NOT recommend any loose substrate, including the coconut fiber. Use newspaper, paper bags, paper towels, or vinyl flooring, tiles, etc... Nothing that they can ingest!!
Now...if you want, you can put moss or the coconut fiber into a sock, stocking or mesh bag and wet it to help with humidity in the cage..but you don't want to have any of that substrate NOT contained in something.
Also, you say lettuce.,...  again, read the care sheet carefully.  There are specific foods an iguana needs to have due to the nutritional values of the foods.
If the store does not carry collard greens and at least turnip greens, ask them to stock them for you.   To those two greens, you can add some endive or escarole if you can only afford a few greens.  Again... it is very important to feed your ig the recommended greens. Add some grated butternut squish on top.. green or red sweet pepper...etc..   Yucca root is fine to add to his recommended greens,  Fruits, a few times a week.  Be sure to mist his food very heavy..it is how he will get most of his water.
His POOP color may be due to the food he is eating.  Try feeding the proper diet and see if it changes.
It sounds like he is trusting you. That's a good sign.
The fact he is eating a lot is also a very good sign... but..again, you need to get the proper foods for him.
One reason why he may look "pregnant" is that he MAY have some internal parasites... generally when they have internal parasites they look bloated, their poop smells sour, is loose and can be off color... a vet is needed to do a fecal check to find what parasite it may be.  DO NOT ALLOW THE VET TO USE IVERMECTIN TO TREAT FOR PARASITES!!!
You do need to get a heat source for night time. 60 degrees is too cold a constant night time temperature....for now...  Do you have a human heating pad?   If so, you can use this on the floor..just cover it with a folded towel and use the low setting..be sure it isn't one of the newer ones that turn off automatically!!!
Be careful when having your ig out for too long.  Make sure he doesn't get too cold.  If he feels cold to you..he is too cold!! If he is active when he is out, he is most likely fine..if he starts to get sluggish when you have him out, he is probably too cold.
Your thermometers may not be giving true readings..either too low or too high, depending on where you have them placed and what type they are. They do move to cooler areas and hotter areas during the day...the bigger they are, the more they seem to move around because their bodies "hold the heat" longer.
I have a few important questions to ask you....once you answer them, I can suggest other things that you may have to "worry" about..
What type of thermometer are you using?
how old is your ig?
how long is he from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail?  
was his tail ever broken off?
How big is your cage? what type is the cage?
What is your uvb lighting? Exact brand, type(tube, spiral, bulb) and what % of uvb does it state?
Tyler...please read over the care sheet carefully...print it out so you can refer to it easily, especially to see the foods you need to feed him.
If you want, along with answering my few questions, you can attach a picture of his cage and I can offer some suggestions if needed.

Iguanas

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Diane

Expertise

I am well versed in all aspects of the care and keeping of green iguanas. This includes all husbandry issues pertaining to the Green Iguana. I am not a vet so I cannot answer medical questions, other than ideas for normal supplementation, removing stuck shed, dropped tail and mites and other general health questions

Experience

I own 3 green iguanas, two of which are rescues. I've had my Iguanas for 11 years. I own a yahoo group dedicated to raising healthy iguanas. I've rescued and rehabbed several young iguanas and have placed them in wonderful forever homes. I prefer taking in the "hard cases" that need critical care.

Organizations
Scales and Tails Exotic Pet Rescue (one of the founding members)

Publications
One of the Co Authors of the Book "The Iguana Dens Care and Keeping of Giant Green Iguanas"

Education/Credentials
I was a vet tech for a small animal practice for 6 years.

Past/Present Clients
I own a yahoo group dedicated to raising healthy iguanas.(babyiguana) I have answered several Iguana questions on the "reptile" forum on here.

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