Club-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura quinquecarinata)
A.K.A. Black Spiny-tailed Iguana, Black Iguana, Black Ctenosaur
Iguanas are one of the most popular reptiles to keep as pets. However, because of their size and longevity, they are a serious commitment and not recommended for beginner reptile owners. They can grow from 4-6 feet long and weigh up to 20 lbs. Males have several characteristics absent in females. These include: large “jowls;” larger, blockier heads; fatty deposits between the eyes and ears; longer dorsal spikes; large pores on the inner thighs; and a bulge at the base of the tail. These lizards can live up to 20 years if taken care of properly.
Habitat and Tank Requirements:
This species is native to Mexico and Central America.
Substrates are not needed with this lizard, though newspaper, paper towels, or reptile carpet can be used. Be sure to put enough rocks and wood in the tank for your lizard to hide in and climb on.
As juveniles, iguanas can be kept in a 20 gallon tank, but they will quickly outgrow most of the larger tanks available. A full-grown adult needs at least a 40-50 gallon tank. Because they get so large, some owners choose to give their iguana its own room, or let it roam free in their home. In this case you must make sure it is iguana-proof. They are curious and will eat coins, candy, and other small items left around. They can also be pretty clumsy and can knock over valuables. Iguanas are natural climbers and will try to climb high places if they can.
Iguanas need 12-14 hours of light a day. A comfortable temperature for these lizards is around 77-84º F during the day and nighttime temperatures between 70-75º F. LEDs or other low-wattage light bulbs work best for maintaining these temperatures.
In addition to UV light, these lizards need a hotter basking area from 90-95º F. You can use either a ceramic heat emitter or a reptile basking light for this. Heat rocks are not recommended as they can burn your animal.
Your tank should have a large tub of water that is cleaned daily. This is for your lizard to drink from as well as wade in.
These iguanas are omnivorous. They should be fed dark greens, vegetables, and a small amount of fruit as well as crickets, mealworms, wax worms, or any other insects small enough for them to ingest. Refrain from citrus fruits and tomatoes, as these can be too acidic for iguanas. Light-colored greens, like lettuce, are fine for iguanas, but have very little nutritional value. Do not feed them rhubarb, as it is toxic to iguanas. It is recommended that food be dusted with calcium to prevent bone softening.
Allow your lizard time to become accustomed to its new home before handling them extensively. Handling them little by little over a period of time lets the animal get used to you and reduces stress.