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  4. RHINOCEROS (Rhino) IGUANA
Reptile Rapture,
6308 Monona Dr, Monona WI 53516
608-221-0094, www.reptilerapture.net

RHINOCEROS IGUANA CARESHEET

Common Name: Rhino Iguana; Rhinoceros Iguana
Scientific Name: Cyclura cornuta
Origin: Mainly found in the Caribbean on the  island of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic)
Size: Up to 4.5' head to tail
Weight: 10 - 20 lbs.
Lifespan: 15 - 20 years

You will find many ways on the internet, on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of caring for this species.

Rhino iguanas are diurnal, being active during the day and sleeping at night. They get their name because the males have bony horn-like protrusions on their heads.

HOUSING
In the wild, rhino iguanas are mostly terrestrial, preferring the ground over trees. Thus they can live in drier, rockier areas.
 
While they do not need tall enclosures (like their cousin the arboreal green iguana), they will still need a very large space to move around in.

Young iguanas can be kept in something like a Exo terra enclosure 24" x 18" x 36" for about the first 6 months of it's life.

Note: You can not keep them from growing by housing them in a small cage. That's a myth and it won't make for a happy well adjusted iguana.

After your iguana grows out of the starter enclosure, or if you begin with one 6 months or older, you need to have a larger space, such as the Zoo Med iguanarium (36" x 18" x 48") or Exo Terra large xtall (36" x 18" x 36"). These will last you until your iggy is 2.5' to 3' long. (All body measurements include the tail.)

Adult iguanas need an enclosure of no less than 8' long 4' wide and 3' high. There are many suggestions online for making an DIY enclosure. If you have the space, go bigger.

It should include a safe place to sleep, a basking light, and food station.

For substrate you want something that holds humidity well like Zilla jungle mix, Zoo med eco earth or Exo terra coco husk. Iguanas tend to use the same bathroom spot everyday. Also make sure the food dish is stable and difficult to overturn. You do not want your pet ingesting substrate.

Iguanas do best alone. If you want two, make sure they are male and female or two females. Dimensions for the above enclosures are based on one iguana; if you have two, double the size.


LIGHTING & TEMPERATURES
Rhino iguanas come from a tropical climate. You want a basking area for them and a cooler part of the enclosure where they can regulate their body temperature. All the lighting and heat elements should be on one side and the other will be the cool side. This way your iguana can move back and forth between the different temperatures depending on its needs.

A basking area of 100-115 degrees should be provided. The rest of the enclosure can be in the 80-85 range. At night, temps can drop to as low as 75 degrees. Use a good quality temperature gauge, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer. One basking bulb is fine for babies, but for an adult iguana, we suggest at least two bulbs next to each other to provide a larger area for your iggy to heat up. It takes a lot of heat to warm a large bodied iguana. It's best if it is a little spread out and not super hot in a small area.

In addition to heat, iguanas need UVB lighting to help them absorb calcium and to synthesize vitamin D3. Since they are not getting  natural sunlight in our homes, we must provide UVB light in the form of a special fluorescent bulb designed to produce UVB rays. Do not use heat rocks. Iguanas are especially adapted to basking, getting heat from above. They can be burned badly on a heat rock because they do not realize it's too hot until too late.

The best bulbs are the mercury vapors such as Exo Terra's Solar Glo bulbs, ZooMed's Powersun, or Solar bright bulbs. These provide heat and UVB all in one bulb. You can also use separate basking (heat) bulb and UVB bulbs. If you use these you will want the Zoo Med 5.0 or Exo Terra UVB 100 variety.


HUMIDITY
Always provide a nice sized water dish with fresh water. And like the food dish, make sure it is stable and positioned so it can't be overturned. Iguanas get a lot of moisture from their food, but they still do drink. Scrub the bowl at least once a week to keep bacteria slime from building up.

Maintain humidity around 60%. Misting the enclosure a couple times a day will usually provide enough moisture, but a nice humidity gauge can help you in this area. Hand misters are usually sufficient, but if you don't care to remember to mist, an automatic mister like the Exo Terra monsoon is a nice option. Exo terras reptile fountain provides bubbling water that will also help raise humidity levels. Exo Terra bowls or Flukers rock dish are nice naturalistic non-porous water bowls.


FEEDING
Use a food dish that cannot be overturned onto the substrate. Iguanas are vegetarians and eat everyday. Variety is important. Don't always feed them the same things. When you feed, you can give as much as they want in one sitting. Remove any uneaten food after a few hours.

Make sure to supplement your iguanas food at least every other feeding with calcium and vitamins such as Repashy Superveggie (this can be used everyday) and mix in a little extra calcium with D3.

SUGGESTED FOODS

greens (turnip, collard, mustard, beet)
green beans
peas
dandelions
escarole
grated root crops (carrots, beets, etc)
grated squashes
kale
romaine
leaf lettuces (dark types, no spinach)
broccoli stems and leaves

In moderation:

alfalfa
apple
avocado
berries
bok choy
cabbage
hibiscus blooms and flowers
melons
nasturtium
okra
papaya
peaches
pear
plums
rose petals


TEMPERAMENT
Rhino iguanas are intelligent and can make good pets. However, they are not for everyone. Baby iguanas usually do not bite, but excessive handling should be avoided until your animal gets used to you. Your first impulse will be to hold your new iguana and pet it. We strongly suggest you do not do this. The best way we have found to tame an iguana whether young or old is with patience. Read on.

Place your new iguana enclosure in an area where it can see you moving about. Let it see you prepare its food. Talk to your iguana, let it hear your voice. You can change the water, spot clean the enclosure, do busy work near it, read, work on computer, etc. But do not pick your new pet up or try to touch it at this time. Why? You are letting your iguana get used to you, your movements and your voice in a non-threatening manner. Iguanas are curious animals and once they get accustomed to you, they will start staying out in the open when you're around instead of hiding. That's the first step.

Rhino iguanas are very food oriented and if they see you as the food giver, they will start to trust you sooner. Once they get over their innate nervousness, they will be bolder and soon will start to come to you when you bring food. Eventually, your iggy will eat greens from your hand or jump on your arm when you are reaching in the enclosure to do something. Success! Now is the time to start interacting more. Let your lizard stay on your arm, talk to it, gently try to pet the back...just don't grab it. Remember, let your iguana come to you. Eventually, it will trust you and run to you when you come to the enclosure. This is the time when you can really start holding it.

Have patience. In some cases, this taming process can take months. Remember, your iguana can live 15-20 years so this part is truly worth the effort. You will be so happy when you are walking around the house with a happy and trusting baby iguana riding your shoulder or on top of your head. Think of your adult iguana following you around the house for some petting time. It's up to you to help make this happen. They take some work and are not immediately tamed like a bearded dragon, but they are worth the extra effort.