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The Best Iguana Cages and Where to Buy Them

Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.

Iguanas are some of the most popular pet lizards in America, commonly found in the reptile section of many chain pet stores such as Petco and Petsmart. This is unfortunate because while they may seem pleasantly tiny as babies, they can grow up to 6 feet in length with the proper care (many die prematurely), and those adults will require an enclosure that is sized to accommodate an animal that large. While, in general, reptiles do not need as much room as mammals relative to their size, iguanas still need what many would consider to be a large enclosure. In fact, there are no suitably-sized enclosures for most adult iguanas in conventional pet stores.

Where your iguana lives in the wild

Where your iguana lives in the wild

It's typical to see iguanas in cages where they would have inches of horizontal room to maneuver around. Cages like these are even sold by dealers claiming to be specifically for iguanas, but they are inadequate for an iguana's thermoregulation needs.

The commercial pet industry doesn't often make the right cages available most likely because there isn't a lot of money in the business of selling enormous caging for cheap lizards.

Iguanas originate from the high jungle trees of South America, so no one should be fooled into thinking any iguana cage in the world will simulate this existence. However, just like most captive animals, enclosures can be modified to provide the essential elements that an iguana needs to thrive.

  • Building vs. Buying
    The Green Iguana Society is dedicated to providing quality information on iguana care as well as information on current adoptions and rescues throughout the United States & Canada.

The Ideal Iguana Enclosure

  • Dimensions. There are many dimensions proposed as a minimum size for iguanas. Generally, most sources suggest a length and width of around 6 feet, with a depth of around 4 feet, but many different sizes will work depending on your animal. Whatever size you choose, your iguana, when it reaches its final length, should have enough room to have different places to bask and enough space to turn around without cramming its tail on the sides.
  • Height. Pay special attention to ensure your iguana is able to climb to a reasonable height, as they are arboreal. There is also some evidence that baby iguanas are stressed when they can't get high enough off the ground [1].
  • How many iguanas per cage? It is recommended to house iguanas alone. While it might be tempting to utilize such expansive cages to house more than one lizard, even 8'x8' caging is not large enough for an iguana to escape an aggressive encounter with another iguana.

Finished frame

iguana-cages
iguana-cages

Why This Enclosure Works

  • Height: Iguanas require a tall enclosure. Iguanas are arboreal animals that become stressed when confined to lower elevations. Tall enough for the iguana to look over the average human's head is a good height to aim for.
  • Width: An often overlooked element to cage building, mainly because a thin cage is more convenient to fit in most homes. The above cage is wide enough to allow for extra climbing ledges and it makes excellent use of its dimensions, so no space is wasted. It is also wide enough for a human to climb in and do cage maintenance.
  • Long basking ledges: This allows for more body temperature regulation, as multiple basking lights of varying intensities can be placed along the length of it.
iguana-cages

What Enclosures Don't Work

Aquariums

It doesn't matter if you use a 400-gallon aquarium—it is too small and is not high enough to support the iguana's arboreal needs.

Aquariums are a popular choice for baby iguanas and while they have worked for many, neonate iguana will quickly outgrow these heavy enclosures so they might not be practical for some.

Dog Crates

While this enclosure physically fits an iguana's size, it should be obvious that this space provides little or no room for thermoregulation, exploring, and other enrichment. Dog crates are also heavily ventilated and do not hold humidity without modifications.

Dog crates make excellent transportation cages and even temporary housing (although a multi-level cat cage will work better), such as for vacations (whether you are taking them with you or leaving them with a caretaker for boarding) or iguana rescues that cannot accommodate multiple giant cages for several animals. They can also be used as an outdoor cage for your iguana to get some sun, provided there is a shady side with cover.

Retail Iguana Cages

Retailers have answered the call to the widespread keeping of iguanas being bought as pets from conventional chain pet stores with affordable but inappropriate enclosures. They are all too small, and most do not hold humidity. Here is an example: A Google search for 'iguana cages' shows many cages that are only suitable for chameleons (those with mesh) or for smaller lizards, such as the Zoo Med Reptibreeze IguanArium (this would again, only make a good temp cage. Poor humidity should also be considered). It is perhaps a 'reasonable' size for young iguanas or those which have reached adult size.

Many commercial cages often use a confining 'phone booth' design.

Too cramped

Too cramped

The Flawed "Phone Booth" Design

Unless the cage is so large that the width is appropriate, cages in an upright rectangular or 'phone booth' shape are not good for iguanas.

More often than not, such a shape does not even accommodate the size of the iguana, providing inches of room for the animal's body which can cause trauma to the tail overtime when the iguana tries to turn.

A short width also means there is less room for basking spots, of which ideally there should be at least two. This forces the iguana to bask in one area. The 'phone booth' design is confining and should be avoided if possible.

Cages for Sale Online that DO Work

While there are currently no conventional retail iguana cages that are considered to be ideal, changing the species you search for will yield a few suitable options. There are several cat cages that have a reasonable amount of space for the right-sized iguanas. Many iguana owners have had success with large wooden cages designated for cats and even walk-in chicken coops.

There's a caveat, however. In nearly every situation these cages need to be modified substantially. For instance, a popular choice on Amazon is the CoziWow cat cage. As there the is made with hardware cloth owners need to apply material to hold humidity such as plexiglass, clear shower curtain or table cloth (a much cheaper option). Modifications also need to be made to the top of the cage to install the appropriate ceramic heat emitters and lighting. These cages are a great option for people who do not want to build a cage from scratch but can still put in some work.

The Most Practical and Affordable Choice

It cannot be emphasized enough how beneficial it is for iguana owners to make their own cages. Not only do you get to customize the cage to best fit your designated area and get the best use out of it, but the cage can also be designed according to your iguana's known attributes.

If you have some idea of what your iguana might enjoy and what dimensions are suitable for its length, you can create the enclosure that is optimal for you, and you can also add features such as a pool, litter box, and other additions to make caring for your iguana easier and thus more fulfilling.

In my iguana's cage, I have added a 'suspended litter box' that makes cleaning up her droppings a snap and enables the cage to stay much cleaner. This is just one example of a simple innovation one can come up with when constructing the cage for scratch.

  • Iguana Enclosure Plans
  • Habitat Examples
    The Green Iguana Society is dedicated to providing quality information on iguana care as well as information on current adoptions and rescues throughout the United States & Canada.

Also when building a cage, don't be afraid to keep it simple. The main thing that needs to be focused on is utilizing the space to the best of your ability, adding multiple ramps and climbing opportunities along with accommodating the iguanas biological needs for heat, humidity, and ventilation. Your cage doesn't need to look like the beautiful enclosure in the above video, but owning your iguana will be much more fulfilling when your cage is dynamic and artistic. Be creative, and your iguana will also benefit. Just be sure the cage is able to be easily sanitized (remember, iguanas love to poop in water).

Converting a Room to House and Iguana

A few tidbits on using walk-in closets or small rooms to house iguanas. This might seem to be a cheap, easy option, but in order to pull this off successfully, the room must be at the proper humidity (most homes average about 35-40% when an iguana should have 65-100%) and this room must be "iguana-proofed" (no objects that can be swallowed, and wires should be out of reach).

If you do not convert the room to a hard floor, this area can be hard to sanitize. Iguana droppings are of particular concern because they can carry Salmonella. With these guidelines in mind, iguanas can be housed this way.

Custom Cages

Most of the appropriately-sized cages available for purchase are very expensive, custom-made cages that may very well be worth the money if you can afford it. The advantage of buying a cage is mostly aesthetic, but a professional cage might also be easier to sanitize. A professionally built cage may blend in well with surrounding furniture at your request and have a more beautifying effect. The cost will generally be in the high hundreds to thousands.

Cages by Design

You've probably stumbled upon this company's website before. They also can send free catalogs and offer additional accessories for their standard enclosures. Their Majestic Reptile Cages are properly sized for iguanas but offer limited basking options (unlike the example pictured in this article, where ramps surround the perimeter, creating more space for the iguana). These cages are $4000+, without the cage furniture, of which each suspended rock shelf is $50 each (larger sizes are more). I'd recommend customizing your own furnishing with these models (the rocks can probably be created with Styrofoam, please see the above link about making rock walls).

JWorlds

JWorld's cages are customized, beautiful, and have many exciting features that can be added such as waterfalls and ponds, misters, and other décor. Some models can be flushed out (with a drain on the bottom) or even hooked up to the plumbing.

As should be obvious, these types of cages are pricey (expect $4,000+), especially when properly sized for an iguana.

Iguana cages do not need to be this fancy, but these are wonderful options for people who care about their reptile's enclosure blending in with furniture or being eye candy in the room. Note that iguanas like to eliminate in water, so if adding a water feature, it must be able to be thoroughly cleaned each time this occurs. Be sure that special caging like this meets the needs of the iguana and is not designed just for the visual appeal of the owner (JWorld's site does contain some gorgeous cages that do not appear species appropriate).

Ebay

Many homemade and professional cages can be found on Ebay for those who are not comfortable making their own. Just be sure these cages meet the requirements for the size of the iguana and avoid the common "phone booth" cages if possible.

I Can't Afford/Don't Have Room for a Large Iguana Cage—What Should I Do?

Welcome to the nightmare. Even though iguanas are one of the most popular pet lizards in America, most people do not have to room, time, or finances to give them exactly what they require. Yet giving your iguana away might make things even worse, because it is very difficult for them to find the proper home. Most iguana rescues are at capacity and cannot meet the demand for the constant flow of animals that need homes.

If you feel you can provide a reasonable existence for your pet, I would recommend keeping it, and trying out these options if your cage is not suitable:

  • Use an affordable crate or cat cage to give your iguana some time outdoors during the warmer months.
  • Allow your iguana some time outside of his cage to roam. Be aware that they can carry Salmonella, so bathe the iguana prior and keep them away from small children, immunocompromised people and elderly individuals.
  • Provide enrichment, such as live plants (edible, for feeding on), clip vegetables in high places, place the cage by the window if possible or allow iguana to bask there (the iguana will only get the benefit of natural sun if the window is open or if the glass is special greenhouse glass).
  • Remember, that while reptiles may not be dogs, they can become stressed and require their own forms of enrichment. Be sure to do your best for them.

References

  1. Wojcik, Jeppe. Iguana faeces reveal stress. May 27th. 2012

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: Are there any plans for building an iguana cage yourself? Also, is Jworlds a reputable company and where can I find reviews?

Answer: Jworlds is run by one person. I've used him before, and his cages are one of the best for looks, but an appropriately-sized iguana cage from there will be very expensive, and there might be long wait times. I've never found any plans for cage building, but there are many ideas on Youtube and Pinterest.

Comments

Tammy on June 09, 2019:

I have seen some bad reviews for custom ages.com. Does anyone have any experience with this comaony

3ishaw on May 08, 2018:

Hi, where can I find the advantages and disadvantages of keeping Iguana as a pet animal ? (:

Clark on February 05, 2017:

Hi there. Just came across your forum. I have an adult female iguana....she's in a cage I found on Kijiji here in Canada. A guy housed a male for 25 years in the cage I bought from him but I still feel it is small. Looking for options and came across bigappleherpsupplies.com. They seem to have a few great options for large arboreals. I'm looking at shipping options from the USA. Haven't really come across anything comparable commercially.

glenn perrine on June 18, 2016:

i would like to buy one cage but it's alot of money i only have 150.00 to spin on one anyone sell one i would like 7 feet bye 8 ft wide thank u 4 takeing the time GOD bless

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 25, 2016:

Sounds good to me.

iguanaguy on January 23, 2016:

I have a 3ft iguana and am planning on building a 6ft long by 6 ft tall by 4ft wide is this going to adequate enough for him

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 17, 2015:

Adam, Thanks but I assume you are being truthful and if you are, those animals do not belong in the same enclosure. Iguanas are solitary. Each of those species needs its own enclosure.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 24, 2014:

I know most people in the hobby wouldn't complain about that size. It's hard for me to envision lengths in my head, but it sounds OK to me. 4 feet is a good length for a shorter lizard like a water dragon, even though it will take on that upward rectangle shape. And of course it has a nice height, so be sure to utilize it with ledges around the perimeter.

ZookeeperByNature on September 24, 2014:

Nice article, although I have one question, albeit it's not an iguana.

What size cage would you recommend for a Chinese water dragon, which is about half the length of an iguana? After reading this article, I was starting to question my own plans to construct a 4' x 3' x 6' enclosure as I'm afraid it might be too small to suit an adult animal, yet at the same time, I'm not sure if it will fit up a flight of stares if I make it any bigger. What do you think?

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