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Various   Diets

Iguana Salad AKA The Melissa Kaplan Diet
How to make iguana salad
First, you capture an ig...!
Basic Recipe
-1/2 cup shredded raw green beans 
-1/2 cup shredded raw orange-fleshed squash (such as acorn, banana, kabocha, spaghetti, 
         and pumpkin) - you can occasionally alternate with carrots 
-1/2-3/4 cup alfalfa pellets (rabbit food pellets) or crumbled alfalfa hay 
-1 med or 2 small raw shredded parsnips (in areas where these are seasonally hard to 
         find, you can substitute with asparagus or cooked or canned lima, navy or kidney
         beans that have been well rinsed and minced or mashed. If you use beans, add 
         extra calcium to offset their high phosphorus) 
-1/4 cup mashed/minced fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mangos, papaya, figs, cantaloupe, 
         cactus pear)
Thoroughly mix all ingredients together. Makes about 3.5-4 cups. 
Add in a multivitamin supplement (any multivitamin supplement for birds or reptiles is 
fine - best, actually, is a crushed Centrum tablet) and a calcium supplement. You do 
not need to get a calcium supplement that has phosphorous or D3 in it, as the iguana 
is already getting considerably phosphorous from the plants and multivitamin, and their 
D3 is best metabolized in their bodies by regular exposure to direct sunlight or special 
UVB-producing fluorescents.  If you will be freezing any of the food, mix in some Brewer's 
yeast to replace the thiamin (B1) that will be lost when the green vegetables are thawed.  
Serve the salad in the morning. Once the iguana is freely eating the salad, greens (collards, 
mustards, dandelion, escarole, occasionally some kale and chard) can be served on the side. 
If the iguana will only eat the greens, stop feeding them greens and only put down salad, 
fresh every day. When they start feeding on the salad and are generally clean-platers, you 
can then start offering greens in the afternoon. Once they assimilate that, you can serve 
the two together. The salad is actually more nutritious than the greens, not the least of 
which because they can fit more of the salad into their guts, and it is more efficiently 
digested, than the greens. In no event should greens exceed 40-45% of the total diet.  
Iguanas have evolved as late morning/early afternoon feeders; if you feed them when 
convenient for YOU rather than when they need to eat, you end up with an iguana who is not 
eating as much as it should and who is not digesting as effectively as it could. Iguanas 
can only extract out 40% of the nutrients in the food they eat, making it imperative that 
we not only feed them only healthy nutrition-loaded foods, but that we feed them at the 
proper times, as well. Kaplan, Melissa. 1995. Iguana Salad. 
Available online© 1995 Melissa Kaplan

Jennifer Sworfords Iguana Diet

30 - 70% should consist of nutritious solid vegetables 
30 - 70% should consist of nutritious leafy greens 
5 - 15% should consist of nutritious fruits 
0 - 10% should consist of supplemental foods such as grains 

This diet is good for people who already know the calcium:phosphorus ratio of most 
vegetables and can easily combine ingredients for the best effect. You can also come 
up with your own ingredients based on what is sold in your stores. 

There are not many bad points with this diet, but if you don't know much about the 
calcium:phosphorus ratio of fruits and vegetables, then this diet will take more 
work to understand. 

Kevin Egan's Iguana Den Diet example only
            THE DIET 
          Mustard Greens 
          Collard Greens 
          Turnip Greens 
          Dandelion Greens 
          Chinese Cabbage 
          Beet Greens 
          Chickory Greens 
          Swiss Chard 

This diet is great if you have several large iguanas, or an iguana which hasMBD (rescue). 
Once you establish the basic diet above, you can also add other fruits and vegetables to 
spice up the diet. 

What most people don't realize is, the basis of this diet is to end up with ingredients 
which equal 1000mg of calcium and 300mg of Phosphorus.  Many people believe it is just a 
matter of going out and buying a bunch of greens. If you have a very small iguana, this 
is not the diet for you. All these ingredients are expensive and do not last long. 
Freezing just results in a soggy mess that many iguanas refuse to eat. In addition, if you 
don't live in a big city these ingredients can be very hard to find.

Good Points and Bad points from


Iguanas may start out small, but in time they grow to tremendous sizes.  An adult iguana 
can top out at 6 feet long.  Most tend to average right around 5-5.5 feet.  They will need 
more than a 10 or 20 gallon tank to survive.  In James Hatfield's book there is an 
excellent enclosure available to build.  I have posted one on this site as well.  
Check out many places before building.  Reptiles magazine has several advertisments for 
companies that build these nice enclosures.  These sort of enclosures are suggested 
after the first year.  The more room the iguana has the better they grow and thrive.

This is the best outline I have seen in newsgroups for a build it yourself 
enclosure.  I wish I could remember who originally did it so I could give them 
the credit they deserve, but I can't.  So if you did it, let me know and I will
post you as credit.

7' tall x 4' wide x 30" deep
This structure is designed to optimize heating and retain humidity
· 2 sheets of plywood
· 10 2x2's
· 1 2x4
· 28 angle brackets (L shaped)
 · ¼" hardware cloth (found in the garden department of Home Depot)
· Sandpaper - coarse and fine grit
· 2 sheets of tileboard
· Tileboard cement (or liquid nails recommended to me AFTER the fact)
· Molding
· Glass for windows if desired
· Glass and tracks for sliding doors (or pre-purchase shower doors)
· Fluorescent light fixture
· Shelf brackets
· Power strip(s)
· Extension Cord (if needed)
· Screws and a few nails
 · Hammer
· Screw drivers
· Drill
· Saw
· Measuring tape
· T-square
· Pencil
· Wire cutters
· Staple gun
 · Thermometer
· Humidity Gauge
· Waterfall (Corner style)
· Ceramic Heating Element (CHE)
· Dome Hood for CHE
· Corner litter box (with water to provide a wash place as well as 
  increase level of humidity)
· Tree branch(es)
· Order glass ahead of time! It takes a week or more to have glass 
  cut/polished and delivered.
· Custom shower doors take approximately 3 weeks, unless you are 
  satisfied with something in stock.
· You want a tall enclosure. Be prepared to allow for lighting/heating 
  overhead. I had to suspend the fixtures rather than place them 
  directly on the top. The Dome is 10" tall. I left too little room 
  between the enclosure and the living room ceiling. No biggie though. 
· Consider where to build this and how it will enter the room you 
  intend to put this in. Measure diagonally to allow for clearance of 
  the ceiling. If you bring this in on its side or back, make sure you 
  can tip this with room to spare.
· Depth not to exceed width of doorways or means of entrance
NOTE: I am the furthest thing from a handyman. I don't know how to 
explain this very well, but here goes:
· I glued the tileboard to the plywood. This decreases the amount 
  of cutting in the long run.
· Set aside to dry.
· Cut the 4 long supports 7'3" to start the frame.
· Cut the pieces for the sides (to create the depth you want)
· Cut the pieces that run the length of enclosure (between supports)
· Note, for construction, consider screws. This allows changes in 
  design as well as mobility.
· With the cut pieces, create a frame.
· Time to cut the floor from one of the tileboard/plywood. Cut to 
  bottom dimensions.
· Secure floor into place. Use the angle brackets to raise the floor. 
  You don't want to lay the bottom directly on your floor. This 
  enclosure is going to provide a warm moist area and you don't want the 
  humidity to be trapped and ruin your floor.
· Cut the tileboard/plywood for the side(s) and back. The back will 
  consist of mostly one whole piece. I designed the size of mine so that 
  I would only have to make one cut along the bottom. The entire width 
  of the sheet is used in the construction of our enclosure.
· Secure them to the side(s) and back.
If you will be installing windows and/or doors, I suggest keeping those 
areas open until you have the glass. Measure and cut according to the 
size of the glass.
· The top is covered with hardware cloth. This is a metal screen-like 
material, but much thicker and sturdier than actual screen. Roll out 
enough to cover the entire top, with about 3 inches to fold down around 
the sides, back and front. Staple into place.
· I installed a light fixture directly onto the hardware cloth. I would 
  have preferred to install directly onto the wood, but the fixture I 
  bought was too big and it would only fit diagonally in the top. 
· Bring into the room you want.
· Install the glass.
· Once the structure is built, install the heating elements you choose. 
  Measure the temperature in multiple locations to determine the best 
  basking spot. Put a shelf there.
· Make sure you have a way your ig can climb. I put a branch in running 
  from the bottom to the basking shelf.
· I have a cat perch outside the enclosure to allow my ig to come out 
  whenever he wants - safely.
· The outside is going to be decorative. Be creative. Use molding that 
  matches your current décor. Or regular wood painted to match. That 
  is up to you.
Good luck!


A few things that are needed for any iguana to survive are heat and light. During the day maintaining 85-90 degrees in the enclosure and at night maintaining an average of 75 degrees is nessecary for iguana health. There also needs to be a warm side and a cool side to the enclosure because reptiles thermo-regulate. The need to be able to pass from hot to warm to properly digest. How is that done? Well many places will suggest hot rocks. Unfortunately this couldnt be farther from the best suggestion. Reptiles register and abosorb heat from above them not below. I have heard countless stories of reptiles laying on hot rocks until they literally burn their flesh off. They do not register the heat until it is too late. Hot rocks also have been known to short out because of cracks on the rock. These are electrical appliances being put into an environment that is very humid with water close by and an animal with very long sharp claws. All ingredients for disaster. To see what a hot rock will do, check out Nikki's photos in the photo section.

So I just ruined the most common way pet stores tell you to heat the enclosure. NOW WHAT! Well human heating pads on the bottom of the enclosure under the substrate work well. Set on low they maintain a level warmness on the bottom of the enclosure. They are also required to follow certain safety regulations that reptile products are not. For all over heating, I prefer to use a regular run of the mill 100 watt lightbulb. I put it in a domed light casing with a CERAMIC base. The plastic bases will melt. Ceramic based domed lights can be found in hardware departments. One thing you will learn is that most often thing sold specifically for a reptile will be 10 times more expensive than the regular version you can find in a hardware store. Some people also use CHE or ceramic heating elements. These should be mounted off the top of the enclosure and away from anything it could burn. Once again, use the ceramic based dome light. This product will melt the plastic ones. CHEs can be purchased at most pet stores, but check the online suppliers and the catalogs. They are often cheaper through there.

Proper lighting is a whole new ballgame. There are so many products listed as UV Bulbs on the market it can make your head spin. What kind should you use? The flouresant lightbulbs are the only ones that can offer full spectrum. This means UV-A and UV-B. Iguanas need both to properly process their food, create internally vitamin D3 and properly produce calcium. You can do just fine with a hardware store version of a floresant lightbulb holder. No need to spend $50.00 on the ones sold in pet stores. These should be mounted within no more than 18 inches from the basking area. The closer to the ig, the more uv gets through. It should also not be mounted over glass or plastic. UV can not penetrate glass or plastic so all would be lost.

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