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By Melissa Kaplan

Author Melissa Kaplan wrote a guide on how to take care of iguanas and share your life with them. The guide is too long to present as one document, so we split it into several articles to make it easier to read. The guide covers a range of topics on how to care for iguanas.

The best time to read this 7-part article is before you get a green iguana. Melissa Kaplan's article has been accessed by hundreds of thousands of iguana keepers looking for information on how to properly setup, feed, and start taming their iguana.
This information helps lay the foundation for why we do the things we do for captive iguanas. They will affect decisions on housing design, diet, and establishment of daily routines. This information will also help you to understand what your iguana does or doesn't do.
Creating an iguana home is more than throwing together a 10-gallon tank, a hot rock, and some bark. (In fact, that is exactly what you should not do!)We must provide for the iguana not only as it is today, but as it will be in the months and years to come. Temperatures and humidity need to function independently of your environment.
Iguanas were thought to be omnivores, consuming both animal and plant matter. But animal protein is not good for them. Iguanas are leaf-eaters in the wild. The iguana digestive system is structured to process a high-fiber plant diet. Herp veterinarians recommend that no animal protein be fed to green iguanas.
If you thought shopping for all these vegetables and greens and trying to figure out where to stash them in your refrigerator was stressful, the fun has just begun. Now you have to learn how to make the salads and serve them!
Iguanas are not domesticated animals. They do not have any innate trust of humans. The tamer and more highly socialized the iguana is, the lower the risk of reactive responses. A socialized iguana clearly enjoys being with people. Learn how to tame and socialize an iguana.
Do not get an iguana, or any other reptile, if there is no veterinarian trained in reptile medicine within comfortable driving distance for you. If you do not have immediate access to your own transportation, do not get an iguana or other reptile. All new iguanas, whether they are hatchlings you bought from a store or expo, or someone else's pet you've taken in, should be seen by a reptile veterinarian.
While this 7-part article is more extensive than most books on basic care, feeding, and taming, there is much more to know. This article just touches the surface of what it takes to care for an iguana properly.
The footnotes, referenced articles, and websites mentioned in this series are located in this one section for your convenience.

About the author(s)
Melissa Kaplan Melissa is the author of Iguanas for Dummies as well as numerous articles on reptiles. She contributed two chapters to the 3-volume work The Biology, Husbandry and Health Care of Reptiles (Lowell Ackerman, DVM, editor), and co-authored the top-rated Captive Care of the Green Iguana video (Scimitar Productions, UK).

Melissaís training and background in wildlife rehabilitation, animal behavior observation and veterinary clinical nursing procedures have all contributed her to study of and the care and keeping of reptiles. Through the years, she has been actively involved in reptile rescue and rehabilitation, consulting with pet owners, veterinarians, and animal regulatory agencies on reptile care, behavior and welfare issues. In 1997, she earned her masterís in education, with her thesis, "Classroom Reptiles."

Her website,, contains a wealth of information on the care, health and behavior of reptiles in captivity and in the wild.

An article,"Meet Melissa Kaplan," appeared in the January 2000 issue of Reptile Hobbyist magazine. She is also on the staff of Melissa currently lives in Northern California, and is presently co-habiting with a Cyclura iguana, blue-tongue skink, a ballpython and various chelonians. Melissa continues to promote herp welfare through her website, as well as advocate on the behalf of those stricken with invisible disabilities through her Chronic Neuroimmune Diseases site.

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