Apart from making sure your iguana has adequate food, water and UV rays, one of your major tasks as an iguana owner is keeping your iggy clean. You may not be aware of it, but iguanas have been known to spread salmonella – a bacteria we usually associate with eggs. Because of these, it’s of vital importance that you keep your iguana and his habitat clean – for his health and for the health of you and your family. By cleaning your iguana’s cage properly, you reduce the odds of ever having a problem to near zero.
Remove Feces Daily – The most important and most obvious part of keeping your iguana’s habitat clean is to remove all feces and leftover food every day. In fact, I clean out my iguana’s poops as soon as I see them. I don’t want to leave it there contaminating his water (he likes to go in his tub) or getting spread around. If you can, I’d recommend cleaning it immediately – if you feed your iguana at the same time each day, he’ll most likely poop at the same time too, so it should be relatively easy. If you can’t clean it immediately, at least make sure that you clean it every single day without exception.
Keep food and water bowls clean – It kind of goes along with cleaning out the poop; empty out dirty water and remove any food waste immediately. Don’t leave veggie mash or greens in the cage to wilt and get slimy. If your iguana doesn’t eat food within a certain amount of time, get it out of the cage. If your lizard is like mine and poops in the water bowl, you need to empty that and wash the bowl as soon as possible. Water and food dishes should be washed daily, and disinfected at least once a week.
Keep your iguana clean – Your iguana is a naturally clean animal. If he has a body of water big enough, he’ll soak in it himself. When my iguana was smaller, I used one of those large terra cotta trays that goes underneath flower pots to catch the run-off water – it was about two inches deep and long enough for him to get into and sit. If your iguana is bigger, you can put him in the bathtub with enough lukewarm water to hit him about mid body. Yes, this is much easier to do if you’ve been taming your iguana since it was tiny! The point is, you need to make sure your iguana has the opportunity to bath and soak. We’ll be writing more on this at a later date.
What do you use to clean your iguana cage? – There are a variety of solutions that can be used to clean out the habitat. I use a solution of bleach at four ounces of bleach mixed into a gallon of water. I use this in a spray bottle to sterilize everything in the cage – from ceiling to the floor to the branches and shelves. Of course, I take the iguana out while I do this. I also put an ounce of bleach in the soapy water I use when washing my iguanas dishes and tubs and plastic plants.
If you use bleach there are two important things to keep in mind –
- Let it completely dry and air out before you return the iguana
- NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or products that have ammonia in them.
Another great option is Nolvasan. This is a disinfectant that’s often used by zoos, veterinarians and such. The great thing about it is that not only can it be used to sanitize the cage and everything in it, it can actually be used to clean and disinfect wounds on your iguana (or other pets) if it should happen to become injured. Just make sure you follow the directions and use the proper dilutions.
One last thing –
Keep yourself clean! You should carefully wash your hands both before and after handling your iguana to avoid the spread of any bacteria. You should also wash your hands well after you’ve cleaned out the cage. Proper cage cleaning and hand cleaning is the best way to avoid not only spreading possible Salmonella infections to you and your family, but also to avoid introducing any kind of germs and bacteria to your iguana. Follow good hygiene protocol to keep you and your iguana healthy and happy!
Here’s an iguana getting a bath – kind of a long video, but it’s amazing to see just how interactive this iguana is!