Acquired: Online breeder / seller,
Worked with pet (didn’t own)
New York, United States
Posted Nov 18, 2015
I’ve long been involved in zoo-based breeding programs for the endangered rhinoceros iguana, and applaud the contributions that private keepers have made to these efforts. Certainly, these massive, bulldog-shaped brutes are highly intelligent, and the most responsive of all lizards. However, their jaw strength is beyond belief, enabling them to inflict severe, permanent injuries – during my zoo-keeping years, I lost a portion of my thumb to one.
The rhino iguana’s size dictates the provision of a custom-built cage measuring at least 10 x 10 feet, or a room dedicated as their living quarters. In a smaller enclosure, a proper thermal gradient (80-90 F, with a basking site of 100-105 F) will be impossible to maintain, and your pet’s stress and aggression levels will soar. Exposure to high levels of UVB and UVA is essential to their survival.
Strict attention must be paid to the diet. Rhino iguanas have evolved to consume a fibrous, low protein diet, and cannot live on the rich foods favored by many herbivorous lizards. A wide variety of fibrous produce and wild native plants, supplemented with calcium and vitamins, occasional root vegetables and fruit, and grassland tortoise chow must be provided if they are to thrive; I gave youngsters under my care with insects once weekly, and adults crayfish and large roaches on occasion, with good results (longevity of 40 years for one individual), but many owners rail against protein of any kind in their diets.