Species group: Iguanas
Scientific name: Dipsosaurus dorsalis
The Desert Iguana is found in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Baja California, and Mexico. They are also seen in some of the islands off the Gulf of California. The preferred habitat of the Desert Iguana is hot, dry, sandy scrubland, rocky streambeds, subtropical areas, and deciduous forests. The creosote bush is their favorite shelter (the flowers their favorite meal), as well as burrows and foxholes.
Appearance / health:
Desert Iguanas mature to about 16 inches in length. The body is large and stout, and the tail is long (about 1.5 the length of the body). The base color is light brown or grayish tan with light-colored net-like or reticulated patterns on the neck, body, and sides. This pattern becomes dark round markings on the back next to the hind legs, then becomes tiny dark spots forming bands around the tail. The belly is whitish cream, which become pinkish on the sides during mating season.
Behavior / temperament:
The Desert Iguana loves extreme heat and is often seen basking on large rocks and sand mounds. They are diurnal and most actively preying when the temperatures are higher than 110F. They are good pets because they are docile, hardy, and easy to feed and care for.
Desert Iguanas are large lizards that require huge enclosures (at least 100 gallons). A desert terrarium with a substrate of at least 8 inches deed is recommended. Sand and gravel is considered the best substrate. The tank should be provided with some plants (preferably potted but should be stable), flat rocks for basking, assorted rocks and accessories for climbing, and structures for hiding and burrowing. All décor should be secure to prevent toppling or dislodging. A water bowl is also essential. Adding live creosote bushes for hiding and feeding is recommended. Day temp: 86-104F; night temp: 64-71F; basking temp: 113-122F; humidity: 30-40%; lighting: 14 hours, UV radiation required.
Desert Iguanas are best kept in pairs or groups with only one male. Strict adherence to the high temperature and lighting requirements is crucial to success in keeping these desert lizards. Optimum lifespan is about 17 years.
Primarily herbivorous, Desert Iguanas feed on the fruits, leaves, flowers, and buds of assorted plants, but most especially the creosote bush. Occasionally, though, they feed on insects and mealworms.
Desert Iguanas are egg-layers, mating in the spring (March to June), and lay one or two clutches of 2-10 eggs that hatch in July to September.
interesting display, favourite lizards
handleable lizards, UVB lighting
medium sized enclosure
Interesting and intelligent
I have a group of desert iguanas and they are one of my favourite lizards. They are always active throughout the day, always doing something interesting, they are very inquisitive, and I think quite intelligent for lizards too. In a group (one male only as multiple males can fight), they are always interacting with each other. I have not had eggs from my group yet; but I hope to successfully breed them and I think it's important to try and find them captive bred, as these are still taken from the wild for the pet trade.
One of the biggest advantages of keeping them is that they do not require livefood; you can provide an interesting and varied diet of salad and fruit. Each of them has their favourite food.
However, they are not one of the more handleable lizards - they make a fantastic, interesting display, and will calm down with regular handling, but don't enjoy being handled - they can always be startled and can run very fast. Despite being a relatively small lizard (about 16", half of which is tail), due to their activity levels they need a medium sized enclosure. My group of four lives in a 5ft by 2ft by 2ft. As they are desert animals, they need high levels of UVB lighting and a very high temperature..
From Athravan Jun 13 2015 2:21AM
Lizards Live on Rocks for a Reason
We bought this pet for my teenaged son. It was not a good choice of pets because there isn't much you can do with a lizard but look at it. My son was soon bored with it and regretted his choice of pets. Even though the cage was of appropriate size, it was difficult to keep his home clean because it needed cleaned often because of the amount of space it had to live in. Also, the cat kept trying to figure out a way to get in the cage. It was a constant vigil to make sure the cat would stay out. I would not recommend this pet to any parent. Owners of lizards need to be adults because minors may get bored with it. People who are considering a lizard as a pet should research the needs and consider the amount of space they are willing to provide for the animal's home..
From TXPetFamily May 20 2014 4:42AM