Care for iguana as a pet is not at all simple. Iguanas are native to tropical America, and to live well, iguanas need proper lighting, temperature, humidity, they need a very good diet, and they require a lot of space because iguanas get really big in size when they grow up.
Having a pet lizard means it is necessary for you to understand the process of shedding. All lizards shed skin, including iguanas. The outer layer of lizard’s skin is composed of the protein keratin, and since this outer layer can’t grow, it must be periodically shed to allow the lizard to get bigger. You can tell your iguana is ready to shed when you notice a change in color (or dulling) on its skin and generally, iguanas also have decreased appetite, especially immediately before the shed.
So, how often do iguanas shed?
Iguanas have different intervals between periods of shedding, depending on:
- Its Age
When they’re a baby, iguanas shed almost constantly. Baby iguanas usually shed every 4 to 6 weeks. If your baby iguana is not shedding constantly, it may be a sign that it’s not well and you should take it to the vet. Iguanas continue to shed as an adult, but a little slower. Shedding can happen a few times a year, or just once a year.
- Its growth rate
Shedding reflects normal growth. The faster iguanas grow, the more often they shed. At times, shedding even happens particularly in just the body part that is growing faster. Different areas of the iguana body usually shed at different rates.
- Its environmental conditions
As mentioned above, iguanas need specific environmental conditions. They need a warm, humid surroundings at all time. Iguanas can get stressed living in an improper condition, and this will lead to problems with shedding. During shedding time, make sure to put some things, such as wood, around the place your iguana lives in, for it to rub against.
Iguanas shed in patches. For areas that are kind of tricky, such as the dorsal spikes, fingers, toes, mouth, and tail tip, iguanas may need some help to shed properly. If these areas are not shed completely, there is a high chance the shed skin will constrict blood flow, and in worst case scenario, it will cause a risk of amputation.
Although it is normal for iguanas to not have a complete shed and that they may leave some of the old skin still attached, these old skin are the perfect place for bacterias to live. So you should help remove the old skin by spraying the affected areas with a water mister or soak your iguana in warm water for a few minutes before gently rubbing or pulling the old skin off. However, if the skin doesn’t come off easily when you gently pull it, you should not pull it any harder.
- UVB lighting is also helpful in killing any bacteria or mold that grow on the iguana’s shedding skin.
Difficulty in shedding may be a sign that the iguana is not properly taken care of, or that they are sick. Extra spraying and daily warm bath are good ways to minimize shedding problems.