Best Iguana Enclosure – Cage, Terrarium, Vivarium or Tank?

When you first begin looking for an enclosure for your iguana, you may feel a little lost.

After all, there are so many options and types of enclosures. However, if you’re looking for the absolute best style enclosure, then you’re in the right place.

Hi! My name is Megan, and I have a huge interest in herpetoculture – which is the keeping of reptiles and amphibians.

You see, reptiles are really special animals, and iguanas are no exception. I used to study biology, and I spent a lot of time working with reptiles. There’s a lot to them that’s worth learning about.

Each one has a unique personality just like any other animal. They like different things and respond to interactions in different ways.

Even though iguanas may not be considered beginner pets due to the complexity of the nutrition and house that they require, they are still wonderful pets.

In order to make sure that your iguana is as healthy and happy as possible, you’re going to need the right kind of enclosure.

Whether this is your first time buying an iguana enclosure or you’re simply looking to get a new one, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration before making a purchase.

Reptiles are sensitive and require certain things, and that’s why, before you begin to look at individual enclosures, it’s important to know everything about what your iguana needs.

What Conditions Does Your Iguana Need to Survive?

One of the cool things about reptiles is that they are a special kind of animal known as an ectotherm.

If you don’t know what that means, no worries – it’s just some fun scientific jargon. You probably know the word better as ‘cold-blooded’.

What that means is that iguanas, and all other cold-blooded animals, lack the ability to regulate their own body temperature or produce heat.

Because of this, they need heat from an external source to help then carry about basic bodily functions such as their metabolic processes.

Humans and mammals such as dogs and cats are called endotherms.

We regulate our body temperature through processes such as shivering – which is an involuntary contraction of muscles to produce heat – and sweating.

Iguanas are unable to do either of these.

And that’s why their natural habitats make a lot of sense

While iguanas have been introduced to many places around the world, they are native to Central and South America where they spend a majority of their time camouflaged in the tops of trees in tropical rainforests.

Here, the temperature is one the warmer side with a high humidity.

Now, you may be wondering what all this information and biology jargon has to do with the conditions that you need to establish for your iguana.

You see, the goal is to do everything you can to make sure that your iguana’s enclosure matches that of their natural habitat. This is one of the best ways to help ensure the health and happiness of your iguana.

Temperature requirements

A iguanaThe most important factor is temperature. An iguana that is too cold won’t be able to survive very well and may even become sickly or worse.

A comfortable temperature for an iguana’s enclosure ranges from about 75 degrees Fahrenheit to no more than 100, although no more than 95 degrees is optimal.

During the night, you can allow the temperature to drop into the 70s, going no lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

You should also try to create a temperature gradient within their enclosure.

By having one part of their enclosure cooler than the other, you give them the ability to decide which temperature is most comfortable for them.

Finally, after you have the temperature and humidity at the right levels for your iguana, you need to work on the second most important aspect of their enclosure: proper lighting.

Lighting Requirements

Iguanas, like all reptiles, need a special type of lighting: UVA and UVB. UVB is what’s really important, however. Humans need UVB too.

There’s a reason that being out in the sun each and every day is so good for you.

The UVB rays in sunlight allow our bodies, and iguanas’ bodies too, to produce an important nutrient called Vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium during digestion, which then goes on to help produce healthy and strong bones.

Without enough calcium, your iguana could experience a condition known as hypocalcemia where the calcium in the blood isn’t high enough.

In this case, their bodies will begin to break down and reabsorb the calcium in their bones to compensate.

Helping your iguana get the right amount of UVB rays can be difficult however.

A full spectrum light, while working as a secondary source, isn’t as good as the sun, and, even if you set their enclosure by the window, UVB rays cannot travel through glass.

The best way to help your iguana get enough UVB is to set up an enclosure for them outside to stay in on nicer days where the temperature is in between 75 and 95 degrees fahrenheit.

Make sure to provide adequate shade and water, and do not leave your iguana outside unattended.

Now since you know more about what your iguana needs, you can start to look at the different types of enclosures available.

Cage, Terrarium, Vivarium, Tank – What are the Differences?

Cage

Chances are, you’ve used a cage for an animal before. They’re extremely popular for animals such as cats, dogs, birds, and even hamsters and mice.

However, they won’t work for your iguana for a couple of reasons.

First, remember what we were just talking about? Your iguana needs to live in a very controlled environment with a specific temperature and humidity. They also need a temperature gradient.

Controlling all of these factors is impossible with a wire cage. A wire cage is an open enclosure that will expose your iguana to the temperature and elements of the room that they are in.

The second biggest reason that you shouldn’t use a wire cage for your iguana is because of the fact that they enjoy climbing. They also have fragile hands.

These two things mean that your iguana may attempt to climb the sides of their cage, allowing their hands to become trapped in between the wiring. This can result in serious injury for your iguana.

However, there is one situation where a cage may benefit your iguana. Remember how I said you can take your iguana outside to get sunlight to help with their levels of Vitamin D?

This is the perfect time to take advantage of a cage. Just make sure that if you do put your iguana in a cage outside that you stay nearby and keep an eye on them so that way you can step if you see they are about to get hurt.

Terrarium

Terrariums are enclosures that are designed specifically for reptiles and amphibians, which are terrestrial animals.

Let’s take a good look at the name. Terra-rirum. Look familiar?

That’s because the name comes from the fact that, before keeping reptiles and amphibians was a pretty common thing, there were no specialty enclosures, so many owners just used an aquarium.

The aqua in aquarium refers to water, so you can see how the terra in terrarium relates to land.

Terrariums, unlike aquariums, were designed with a screen top for a heat source and full spectrum light as well as a variety of different openings, such as a front opening, which makes interacting with the enclosured reptiles easier.

Vivarium

A vivarium isn’t just one thing. That sounds a little confusing, doesn’t it? Let me explain a little more.

You see, a vivarium is any type of enclosure. It’s an umbrella term! That means that a cage is a vivarium. A terrarium is a vivarium. And even a tank is a vivarium!

Tank

A iguanaTank is really just another word for aquarium.

As I mentioned before, aquariums are what hobbyists initially used for the task of keeping reptiles and amphibians such as iguanas. However, they aren’t specifically designed for iguanas or other reptiles.

They lack front openings and have heavy, buly tops. This can make necessary tasks such as feeding, interacting, entertaining, and caring for your iguana difficult, especially if raising reptiles is just a hobby.

However, it isn’t impossible. While they aren’t ideal, if you’re just beginning to raise iguanas, you may find that, due to their versatility and inexpensive price compared to terrariums, an aquarium may be a good choice.

Which is Best for Iguanas?

As mentioned before, vivariums are not a separate entity, so this competition is between cages, tanks, and terrariums.

Iguana Cages

Cages aren’t a good idea due to the fact that they don’t allow you to provide the full care for your iguana.

Having the ability to control their lighting and temperature is an absolute must when it comes to raising iguanas. However, they are good for basking outside.

This means that, why you don’t want to invest in a cage for your iguana to live in full time, you may want to purchase one for outdoor use. Due to all of this, cages rank third on this list.

Iguana Aquariums

Second place for enclosures goes to aquariums. Due to the fact that it is sturdy and designed to support large volumes of water, tanks are actually the safest option. However, there are a few issues with them.

First, they lack an elevated bottom for a substrate heater. They also lack front door access, which will make tasks such as initially setting up your iguana’s enclosure, feeding them, and playing with them difficult.

At the end of the day, tanks weren’t designed with the needs of your iguana in mind, which means that there will also be some faults.

However, there are more efficient options available on the market, push come to shove, a tank will work as an enclosure for your iguana.

Iguana Terrariums

First place for iguana enclosures goes to terrariums. Terrariums are designed with all of your iguana’s needs in mind.

They have front door entries, elevated bottoms for substrate heaters, locks, and specifically designed tops for lighting and heating.

Terrariums are the best option, and you should aim for purchasing one when picking out the perfect enclosure for your iguana.

However, there are a lot of different terrariums available for sale, and picking out the very best one for your and your iguana’s lifestyles can be difficult. To help you out, here are the top 8 iguana enclosures!

Top 8 Best Iguana Enclosures

1) Carolina Custom Cages Terrarium

Go big or go home, right? This glass cage is the extra-tall, large edition, coming in at a size of 36 x 18 x 36.

It features an ultra deep base as well as a lock function to make sure that your iguana has plenty of space to roam without having the chance to escape.

The swing front doors allow for easy access to your iguana, allowing you to play and interact with them while also providing care for them and feeding them.

The creators recommended that, as with all new reptile habitats, you should make sure to clean the interior of your new enclosure with diluted working strength chlorhexidine before animal introduction.

While the glass is designed to be as sturdy as possible, it is thin, so make sure to use a careful touch when you are unpacking and setting up your iguana’s enclosure.

2) Zoo Med Repti Breeze Chameleon Kit

The best part of the Zoo Med enclosure is that it is specifically designed for not only reptiles owners but new reptile owners, and, even though it is designed for chameleons, it will still work just fine with your iguana.

This 16 x 16 x 30 kit comes with everything you will need to start off your iguana’s enclosure, including decor like a vine and plant, a thermometer, a lighting kit designed to meet UVB needs, cage carpet for a substrate, and samples for different products for you to try out with your iguana to see if he or she likes them.

Note, these extra products are only available if you buy the product new – used purchases will only include the enclosure itself.

3) REPTI ZOO Reptile Glass Terrarium,Double Hinge Door with Screen Ventilation

The REPTI ZOO reptile terrarium has a waterproof, elevated bottom designed just for a substrate heater.

The front doors open and allow for easy access when caring for your igauan while also allowing you to lock and secure the terrarium.

It is packed and shipped flat for safety and is designed for easy assembly, making caring for your iguana a breeze right from the start.

After all, less set up time means more time to play and interact with your iguana.

The ventilation mesh on the top of the cage is also removable to make setting up and cleaning your iguana’s enclosure much easier.

4) Zilla Reptile Starter Kit 10 with Light and Heat

This kit comes with everything that you will need if you are just starting out raising reptiles.

From the enclosure itself to a proper dome light to a special odor free carpet liner for substrate – this kit will provide everything you will need for raising a single iguana.

This design in particular is set up for desert or tropical animals, which is perfect for your iguana.

Its sizing is perfect if you want to include some things to entertain your iguana like a hammock for decor or a plant as well.

5) Hagen Exo Terra Short All Glass Terrarium

The Exo Terra Glass Terrarium was designed by European herpetologists – a zoologist with a speciality in studying reptiles – to be ideal for all reptiles and amphibians, including your iguana.

The front opening doors allow for easy access for all tasks, whether it is maintenance or feeding or interacting with your pet.

The lock on the door is designed to prevent escape while allowing the doors to open with ease.

The mesh screen top allows for both ventilation and the proper amount of UVB rays to reach your iguaga while being easy to remove should you need to access your iguna’s enclosure.

The back also features special tubs so that you don’t have to worry about your iguana being able to access any of the wiring should it be within their reach.

Finally, the enclosure is also designed so that you can implement any special features that you would like, whether it be a heat rock – which you should use with caution so that your iguana does not sustain a burn injury – waterfalls, or even special sensors.

6) Exo Terra Outback Terrarium

Exo Terra is one of the leading names in reptile and amphibian enclosures.

The Outback terrarium is designed with warm climate reptiles, such as your iguana in mind.

It also comes with a limited edition painted background to help your iguana feel more secure in their enclosure.

The dual, escape proof doors are great for access and protection, and the ventilated mesh top removes easy and allows you to provide the exact care your iguana will need.

7) Large Reptile Tank – An Aquarium with a See-Through, Easy Access Front Panel Door

This small enclosure is perfect if you want to keep your iguana with you at all times, whether you’re in your home office or your school dorm.

It is designed perfectly to fit on your desk while not taking up too much room.

The clear front panel allows you to keep a close eye on your scaly friend.

8) ReptiZoo Mini Reptile Glass Terrarium Tank

Last but not least, this enclosure is perfect for all types of reptiles.

It’s tall enough for a sizable branch for your iguana and provides a mesh top and properly designed door to meet all their needs.

Top Picks for Iguana Enclosures

A lot goes into picking which terrarium is the best choice. I like to consider not only the functionality and safety of an enclosure, but also the overall user experience such as shipping, set up, and price.

Taking all of this into mind, my top pick for iguana enclosures would have to be the Repti Zoo terrarium with double hinge doors. This enclosure is an average price, but offers a lot of benefits.

It’s packed in a way to make sure that it is as safe as possible during shipping, and it’s designed so that you can set it up quickly.

It also offers everything that your iguana will need, such as a lockable double hinge door, a waterproof, elevated base for a substrate heater, and a removable mesh top to make sure that you can easily interact with your iguana as well as set up a proper temperature gradient for them.

I also really like the Zilla Reptile starter kit. I think that it is great for new iguana owners, and, for the price, it is perfect for someone just starting out.

Final Thoughts: Best Iguana Enclosure

A iguanaA lot goes into being a reptile owner. Making sure that your new pet has a safe home that will provide for their needs is super important, and that’s why you have to do your research before even thinking about adopting.

Reptiles can be particularly tricky to take care of.

Unlike other pets you may be used to, such as cats and dogs, when you care for your iguana, you have to pay an extra close eye to factors such as temperature, humidity, and lighting.

Things you don’t have to think of as much with other animals so long as they are not in the extremes.

All of this becomes easier once you have a firm grasp on the different types of enclosures – also known as vivariums – though.

A terrarium is a reptile owner’s best friend, and that’s why it’s best to purchase one of those.

Even if you don’t purchase one of the enclosures listed above, so long as you are taking your time to do your research and pick the very best enclosure possible for your iguana.

They will appreciate the time and effort you have put into making sure they are as healthy and happy as possible – even if they can’t tell you so!

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