The iguana is one of the most popular and impressive looking of all of the pet reptile species kept in the UK, and it is one that many reptile enthusiasts aspire to own. However, they are not the easiest of pet reptiles to keep, and in order to ensure that your pet is healthy, well and appropriately cared for, you should ideally have experience of keeping other reptiles, or at least be prepared to spend lots of time researching and talking to other reptile keepers with experience on how best to manage things.
If you are looking for a loving, cuddly pet that will come running up to you and beg for attention, a pet iguana is probably not for you-they are not the same sort of animals as cats and dogs or other mammals, and will not respond to you in the same way. Reptiles do not show or feel affection in the same way that mammals do, and because they are so very different to us, it can be hard for those who are unfamiliar with pet reptiles to understand the way they think and respond to things, and so, how they react to handling and communication.
However, most reptile owners want or at least need to handle their pets on occasion, the idea of taming and handling the iguana is something that many owners and would-be owners aspire to, and there is quite a lot of debate about whether or not this really can be achieved or not.
In this article, we will look at whether or not iguanas can truly be tamed and happily handled, and what it takes to attempt this. Read on to learn more.
Some reptile keepers feel that iguanas (and other reptiles) should not be deliberately tamed or otherwise handled any more than is absolutely necessary, as they are not cuddly pets like cats and dogs and so, will at best tolerate handling and at worst, become stressed, upset and lash out.
However, an iguana that is not used to being handled or coming into contact with people is apt to become stressed out at any point when people get too close to them or their enclosure, and particularly if you ever need to pick them up or work within their cage.
This can lead to aggressive behaviour that is distressing and dangerous for both the owner and the pet, making the whole encounter unpleasant for both parties, and making things much harder in the future too. For this reason, it is important that domestic iguanas are at least tamed enough to be confident and feel comfortable around people and being handled for short periods of time, as otherwise, every transaction will be stressful, and the iguana may even become neglected due to avoidance of contact with them.
Taming an iguana to an acceptable level takes much longer to achieve than it does in virtually any other species of pet-you may need to spend up to a year of continual effort and work, and accept the odd scratch along the way too, to really tame up your pet to the point that they are calm when handled and do not lash out.
If you are prepared to work hard, be patient and take the odd scratch, virtually anyone should be able to bring their iguana’s comfort levels around people to the state mentioned above, where they can be handled if necessary without becoming aggressive or overly stressed.
However, bringing your pet to a point where they not only tolerate handling but actively enjoy the company of people and want to spend time around you is a whole other ball game, and this involves not just taming your pet, but socialising them too. An iguana that enjoys the company of people will actually lighten or deepen in colour in a happy colour display when with people, showing happiness and confidence, which is the ultimate goal for people who wish to truly tame their pets. They will also become excited when they spot you come into the room, and come up to you for attention too!
While this is really what every iguana owner hopes for when they get their pet, often as the result of seeing an experience keeper with their own pet, few first-time iguana owners realise the amount of work, time, patience and effort that is involved in getting this far, which is why so many new owners become disillusioned with their pets after a few months of effort has not returned rewards.
Ultimately, the answer to the question of whether or not a pet iguana can ever truly be tamed is yes they can-however, not every would-be iguana owner or handler is capable of achieving this, or prepared to dedicate the time and patience to doing it, and this is what new owners so often overlook.