New Year – New Stock

The New Year is well underway and we have a lot of new livestock in store and even more available to order. Every now and then I post what we have in our shop so now would be a good time for an update.

Birds

red canary

African grey (Timneh)

Cockatiels (coloured)

Budgies (rainbow)

Canary (green)

Canary (red)

Java sparrows (silver)

Zebra finches

Chinese painted quail female (white)

 

Mammals

rabbit

Rabbits (mini lop)

Guinea pigs

Rats (dumbo and top eared)

Mice

Gerbils

Syrian hamsters

Reptiles

cave gecko

Cornsnake (amelanistic)

Cornsnake (ghost)

Milksnakes

Common boas

Kenyan sand boa

Carpet python

Royal python (pastel)

Bearded dragon

Leopard gecko

Flame crested gecko

Chinese cave gecko

Kotschys gecko

Madagascan giant day gecko

Yemen chameleon

Marginated tortoise

Red Eared Slider Turtle

Yellow Belly Turtle

Musk Turtle

 

Amphibian

phantasmal dart frog

Phantasmal Arrow Frog

Whites Tree Frog

 

Spiders

brazilian black

Brazilian black (juvenile)

Brazilian red rump (sub adult)

Costa Rican big bstd (sub adult)

Curly hair (spiderling)

Giant white knee (juvenile)

Haitian brown (spiderling – large)

Hati Hati purple (spiderlings – large)

Mexican red rump (spiderling)

Mexican red leg (spiderling, sub adult)

Mexican pink (sub adult)

Mexican rose grey (spiderling)

Socotra Island blue baboon (juvenile)

Thai zebra (adult female)

Togo starburst (spiderling – large)

Trinidad chevron (spiderling – large)

 

Insects

mantis

Deaths head cockroach

Fruit beetle

Giant spiny stick insect

Indian stick insect

Cameroon Mantis

Griffin Mantis

Other Invertebrates

Yellow rabbit snail

Red onion snail

Fish – Coldwater

Assorted Goldfish

Zebra Danio

Leopard Danio

Pearl Danio

Glowlight Danio

Butterfly Plec

Fish – Tropical

Bronze Corydora

Endler Guppy

Splendid Rasbora

Galaxy Rasbora

Albino Halfbeak

Lampeye

Cherry Barb

Glowlight tetra

Blonde Guppy Female

Clown Loach

Black Lyre Tail Molly

Orange Lyre Tail Molly

Mixed Lyre Tail Molly

We will be getting more fish stock soon.

The Angell Pets Team

 

 

 

 

 

Free food for a month with ALL complete set ups

From now until the end of December we have a fantastic offer on. Buy ANY complete set up, for any animal and receive one months food FREE.

pet shop gloucester cornsnake

We have a range of set ups for birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates to suit all budgets.Complete set ups include the housing, relevant equipment for that animal, substrate, decor where relevant, the animal itself and now, in addition, one months food FREE.

rankins-dragon
We have set ups for budgies, cockatiels, finches and canaries, parrots, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats and mice, gerbils and hamsters, bearded dragons, leopard geckos, day geckos, crested geckos, chameleons, cornsnakes, milksnakes, boas, pythons, frogs, tarantulas, mantids, stick insects and many more.

hog island boa
All our set ups are put together by the most experienced and qualified team in Gloucester so you get all the correct and  best equipment for your new animal. You can contact us here or on Facebook or on 01452 501882 to find out more.

Exo Terra

 

The Angell Pets Team

Livefood deliveries during the autumn/winter

Our Angell Pets FREE local livefood deliveries in Gloucester, Cheltenham and Painswick are very popular. During the warmer months we are happy to leave the deliveries in a secure location, by prior arrangement, if the customer is out.

livefood

However as the nights draw in and during the colder months this is not possible as the insects would likely die before being brought in by the customer. So with this in mind and wishing all our orders to remain in tip top condition, could all customers ordering livefood for FREE local delivery please ensure they request delivery for an evening they know they will be in to receive it.

From now until the mid spring we cannot leave any livefood deliveries in outside locations (recycling bins, outside storage cupboards etc.) if a customer is out. We will still attempt to redeliver the order during the next delivery slot for that area, as per our delivery policy but we cannot just leave the orders outside to spoil.

Obviously this only affects livefood (and already is the case for frozen food orders). Packaged pet foods and non perishable goods can still be left in a secure location by prior arrangement.

Thank you for your understanding.

The Angell Pets Team

Rankins Dragon Care Sheet

The Rankins dragon is the smaller cousin of the bearded dragon. For those who want to own a beardie but don’t have the space requirements, the Rankins dragon could be the one for you.

rankins

Generally a Rankins dragon requires a smaller vivarium than a bearded dragon as an adult. I would recommend 30” as around the size for one adult although 36” would be better for more dragons. A very young Rankins dragon can at least look a bit lost in a large viv. though and some do seem (at least at first) to get a bit nervous in a large viv. (they will hide away a lot, sometimes to the point of not getting enough UV light) so starting off in a smaller viv is definitely OK, although by no means essential.

If you wish to keep more than a single Rankins dragon (and they seem to be more sociable than beardies) then ensure you only have one male, with a couple of females. Obviously you  will need a bigger enclosure. If you wish to have ore than one male Rankins dragon a much larger space is required and it is not recommended.

Rankins dragon heating

A Rankins dragon requires a good temperature gradient (a “hot end “and a “cold end”) to enable them to regulate their body temperature with the hot spot at the hot end at 35-40 C and the cool end around 25 C (so you are going to need two thermometers). There are a lot of opinions out there on heating a Rankins dragon viv. and I’ll not get into it all here. I use a heat mat combined with a basking lamp (sized to the viv.) to create a hot spot. I have mounted mats on the side and on the bottom of the viv. with equal success. I have seen comments saying never use a heat mat and cannot agree. I have never had a problem, ever and this is over a number of years with a large number of animals. That said, there are alternatives and they are fine too (with the exception of “heat rocks” – they really are a bad idea, if you bought a Rankins dragon starter set up from a certain well known pet supermarket you will have one of these, please throw it away to avoid any risk).

A thermostat will help avoid over temperature. A Rankins dragon can tolerate lower temperatures (i.e. if your spot lamp blows) for quite some time but will suffer quite quickly from over temperature. Even with a thermostat you should always check your thermometers at least daily – thermostats can fail.

Rankins dragon lighting

A Rankins dragon needs relatively high levels of UVB light to manufacture vitamin D3, enabling them to assimilate calcium. You will need a 10-12% UVB lamp on 12 – 14 hours a day. Remember UV light does not travel too far from these lamps so make sure they are not too far from where your dragon likes to bask. I don’t use hides with dragons, sometimes they can spend too much time under it and not get enough UV – not common but best avoided.

A basking lamp will give a bright “hot spot” for a Rankins dragon to bask in when it wants to heat up. Obviously the lamp needs to be a proper basking spot, energy efficient lamps are efficient because they do not give out wasted energy as heat, which is what you want.

Rankins dragon substrates.

Substrate (what your Rankins dragon lives on) is probably the most controversial subject in the hobby. I am not going to tell you what not to use, there is not a substrate currently in use that can’t cause problems. I use beech wood chips (the coarser variety so it cannot fit in the Rankins dragon mouth when small) or desert bedding in the main, although I have used others. I have never had any issues with impaction with a Rankins dragon so I can’t comment on what is worst for this. However I avoid calci sand, as calcium is an essential nutrient for a Rankins dragon, so they will eat as if they feel they need it – why tempt fate? Also, most of my vivs. are front opening,  with sliding glass and the sound of sand in the runners makes me cringe!

rankins dragon

Rankins dragon decor

A Rankins dragon does require a water bowl, although they are rarely seen to drink (I know some individuals seem to love getting in their water bowl see the little Rankins dragon above). Do change the water regularly and keep the bowl clean. It is hot in a Rankins dragon viv. and bacteria will grow very quickly around the rim of the water. A feed dish is a good idea for the veggie component of a Rankins dragon diet, to help avoid the risk of impaction by picking up bits of substrate.

Your Rankins dragon will  love something to climb on, branches, rocks etc. Avoid anything sharp, they may suddenly jump down and you don’t want them to get injured. Anything else in there is up to you. Some people like to put in things to encourage activity and don’t mind what it looks like, so use anything they can find. Others like it to look as natural as possible. It’s really up to you but I would suggest you read a good book for the more advanced aspects of setting up a vivarium both for further advice and for ideas if, like me, you’re not that creative yourself.

Rankins dragon feeding

Your Rankins dragon is an omnivore. They eat a wide range of foods including crickets, locusts, cockroaches and various lavae, vegetables and fruit etc. In captivity they also need vitamin and calcium supplements to ensure continued good health. I feed mine to a regular regime. It is necessary for the health of the Rankins dragon and with the amount of animals I have to feed it is more convenient to stick to a plan and this gives us confidence our animals have received a varied and balanced diet. You will find your own regime that suits you. I will give you mine just to illustrate what a balanced Rankins dragon diet looks like, not to suggest this is superior to any other feeding plan for a Rankins dragon.

Day one – cricket or locusts dusted with Nutrobal vitamin supplement.

Day 2 – salad vegetables.

Day three – crickets or locusts dusted with calcium powder.

Day four – salad vegetables.

Day five – crickets or locusts dusted with calcium powder.

Day six – fruit or veg.

Day seven – crickets or locusts without any supplement.

I vary this further by changing the crickets and locusts for calci worms from time to time and very occasionally wax worms. I don’t use meal worms myself for a Rankins dragon due to the higher level of chitin in the jaws and the consequent increased risk of impaction but occasional meal worms would be OK. I must confess the type of veg I use depends very much on what is on offer at the local supermarket or my garden but favourites of my Rankins dragon are rocket salad or herb salad, grated carrot, romaine lettuce, curly kale and cucumber.  I haven’t had a lot of success with fruit with a Rankins dragon but common ones used are strawberry, mango and banana.

One way of getting veg. into a more obstinate Rankins dragon is to feed the veg. to the insects. Whatever they eat, your Rankins dragon is eating. I do this sometimes but usually I have gut loaded them on a gut load formula any way.  For a very young Rankins dragon I dust every feed to ensure the rapidly growing youngsters are getting enough calcium but I only ever use vitamin powder once a week. The risk of over dosing the Rankins dragon far outweighing the risk of under dosing when using such a balanced diet.

It is important to consider the size of the insect food. It is a bad idea to give anything longer than the distance between the eyes of your Rankins dragon. Too many over large insects will not be properly digested and you will see the half digested remains in the Rankins dragon poop, possibly along with some blood! Alternatively your Rankins dragon may regurgitate the meal, again with the risk of damage to the Rankins dragon digestive tract from the sharp bits of exoskeleton.

rankins-dragon

Things to avoid feeding a Rankins dragon are obviously anything toxic. This sounds really obvious but people have been caught out with plants. The Rankins dragon may not eat the plant but the insects probably will. The Rankins dragon will then eat the now toxic insect.The use of live plants with a Rankins dragon and with bearded dragons is becoming more popular do make sure you know what plant you have and that it is safe. Also I avoid broccoli and cabbage leaves with a Rankins dragon as these contain oxylates that can prevent calcium being available to the metabolism.

Common problems with Rankins dragon feeding include the notorius addiction to wax worms. I have seen a bearded dragon fed these exclusively. Not only is this a bad idea from a nutritional point of view but you often end up with a Rankins dragon that will only eat this one source of food and frequently only when fed by hand! However I have not yet seen the Rankins dragon that cannot be weaned back onto a balanced diet with a little perseverance.

That said, a Rankins dragon can be fussy as they get older. The basic message is that as they are omnivores, it probably doesn’t matter as long as they get a balanced diet.

A reminder about Rankins dragon UVB

UVB lamps are essential to the well being of the Rankins dragon. Unfortunately as soon as you switch one on, the level of UVB output starts to deteriorate. Over time this will drop to zero, so although the lamp is lit, it is providing no benefit at all to the Rankins dragon. The lamps should be replaced between 6 months to 1 year (depending on type and manufacturer). We always replace all our UV lamps every 9 months WITHOUT FAIL. The consequences to a Rankins dragon of not replacing the UV lighting regularly are loss of appetite and metabolic bone disease.

Kept correctly a Rankins dragon should live over 8 years and prove to be a very inquisitive, interactive and easy to handle little lizard.

The Angell Pets Team

Reptile Boarding

Our Reptile Boarding facility here at Angell Pets has grown rapidly in popularity since being launched a couple of years ago.

reptile boarding

Most of our customers, lucky enough to go on holiday each year, are returning to book their animals in each time and new people are hearing about our reptile boarding service and using us for the first time. Peak times are now booked up months in advance. For example Easter and August this year were both virtually fully booked two months in advance.

small animal boarding

We have some space this summer left in July and September with a few odd days only in August for reptile boarding. We do have a little space left for birds and small animals but not much.

reptile boarding

Hermann’s tortoise

If you wish to take advantage of our excellent reptile boarding rates and have your animals looked after by top qualified staff please do book now to avoid disappointment.

Contact us on 01452 501882 to reserve space.

The Angell Pets Team

Yemen Chameleons Now In Stock

Yemen Chameleons, one of the most popular species of chameleon, are now back in stock.

yemen chameleon

We have limited stocks of these UK bred Yemen chameleons. All the ones we have left are male. The males are larger and more brightly coloured than the female and of course won’t be prone to egg binding.

Our Yemen chameleon care sheet will tell you everything you need to know before considering one of these stunning animals. Of course if you require more information you can always email us or call on 01452 501882.

Don’t forget we do complete set up deals with everything you need to keep your Yemen chameleon in tip top condition.

The Angell Pets Team

Hog Island Boa Care Sheet

Hog Island boas are an island variety of common boa. The two main differences are size and colouration. Hog Island boas are naturally hypomelanistic (low in black pigment). This allows the other colours to stand out more, giving a lovely muted pattern of light browns and pinks to orange and even blue. Adult female common boas may reach 12 feet but it is very rare for a Hog Island boa to get above 6 feet and males generally reach 4 feet. Common boas would make great first snakes if it were not for their adult size. The smaller size of the Hog Island boa makes it a great alternative to the often fussy royal python as a choice of first snake. This Hog Island boa care sheet sets out the basics for you.

hog island boa

Housing

Obviously the other “advantage” the Hog Island boa has over the larger commons is that being smaller, they require less space, allowing for a smaller enclosure. The old rule of thumb, length of vivarium plus depth of vivarium equals length of snake shows a three foot vivarium large enough for all but the largest specimens and a four foot enough for even a large female. So for someone wanting a boa but without the space (or the funds) to house a large common, the Hog Island boa makes an obvious choice.

As to keeping a smaller Hog Island boa in a small box until it is bigger and more confident. Can you? Well, yes you can. Do you have to? Well, no you don’t. If you want to house a young Hog Island boa in the vivarium that will last into adulthood and beyond, that is fine. Just ensure there are plenty of places for it to hide away in different areas of the viv.

Heating

The Hog Island boa comes from the tropical Cayos Cachinos Islands off the coast of Honduras. So they need heat and a reasonable level of humidity (although not wet). Around 29C at the hot end and a humidity level of around 60% is fine. I prefer heating with a ceramic heat emitter and this must have a cage around it to prevent contact with the snake and consequent burns. Due to the smaller size of the Hog Island boa you could use a heat mat (mounted on the end wall of the viv. to prevent thermal blocking). Which ever you use, a thermostat to control the temperature is essential. Over heating will damage a snake much more quickly than under heating. Of the two methods of heating mentioned, heat mats and on/off thermostats are cheaper, whilst ceramics and pulse proportional thermostats give a finer level of control.

hog island boa

Lighting

The Hog Island boa generally does not require specialist lighting but why have a snake in a vivarium and then not be able to see it? I find the best modern solution to be LED lighting. Most are neat, quite stylish, don’t generate heat so don’t need to be guarded, can come in a variety of colours (some will automatically change from day to night lighting if you want to be flash), are low voltage inside the viv, are energy efficient, last the lifetime of the snake so don’t require regular replacement of blown lamps…As you can see I am quite sold on them. However properly guarded incandescent lamps can be used (but take the heat generated into consideration) and fluorescent tubes work well but will need to be replaced occasionally.

hog island boa

Substrate

I prefer bark chips (orchid bark) for a Hog Island boa. The dark colour sets off the snake well and this substrate works well as a holder of moisture, helping to maintain some humidity. Other substrates can be used, aspen, lignocel, beech chip, cage carpet etc. Humidity can be maintained by positioning of the water bowl – at the hot end increases humidity as the water evaporates. Water should be changed daily anyway so it will not be there long enough for it all to disappear. In the end the choice of substrate is yours, most cost around the same so that shouldn’t be a factor. Whatever you want for your Hog Island boa.

Decor

As with most snakes, a hide of some description is a must so the Hog Island boa has somewhere to go when it feels the need to be secure. More than one is better, so the snake can choose the temperature of the hide it wants to use. A hide is also a good place to put some damp moss for localised increase of humidity when shedding. Some form of branch is good (environmental or habitat enrichment to get all professional) to allow climbing behaviour. Aside from these it’s your viv. so it’s your choice. Silk plants are an attractive addition to a vivarium (real plants work too but you may spend more time looking after them than the Hog Island boa) and of course a skull always looks good with a snake coming out the eye socket. No? Just me then.

Feeding

Apart from an Amazon Tree Boa I had once (there is always one), every boa I have had has been a good feeder. The Hog Island boa is no exception. I have heard that they can go off their food if they feel insecure but if you have the correct set up in your vivarium this is not going to happen. Mice for smaller specimens is fine but I would get onto rats as soon as possible as larger ones are going to need larger food and there is a possibility it could get habituated to mice. Not the Hog Island boa examples I have had though. They eat anything (well not really anything but you get the point). As with any snake, don’t feed too large a mouse or rat though. There are a lot of risks associated with this, from refusing food to regurgitating later to damage to the insides of the snake from sharp rat claws etc. It’s just not worth risking it for no perceivable benefit to the snake. I feed once a week on smaller food up to once every two weeks for larger. The snake will let you know. Oh and I always use tongs for feeding. A nice smell of rat coupled with a nice warm hand can result in a snake striking at the wrong thing. A Hog Island boa is no exception to this potential confusion.

Handling

The Hog Island boa is quite a docile snake and certainly doesn’t seem to mind being handled (I can’t speak snake so I wouldn’t like to say they enjoy it). As with all snakes, the more secure they feel the less likely to try to escape, strike etc. The more points of contact on its body, the more secure the snake will feel. Always approach a snake from behind, never from in front of its head. The Hog Island boa has a lot of very highly tuned sensors (nostrils, eyes, tongue and Jacobson’s organ and heat pits) Continue reading

Exo Terra Approved Supplier

Exo Terra, along with all the other Hagen brands such as Fluval, Marina, Glo, VivExotic etc. was starting to suffer from poor after sales support from some of the on line sellers of their products. The brand recently took the decision to regain control over who could sell their products to ensure buyers could be confident the seller knew what they were selling, could give advice where needed and provided after sales support and of course, actually held their products in stock.

Angell Pets have been through Hagen’s (Exo Terra parent brand) rigorous approval process and have obtained approved supplier status. This is because we stock the products, have access through a number of routes to replacement stock, have qualified staff that are able to give advice both on the products and the animals associated with them and are able (and willing!) to give after sales support to customers that use our on line web store and our “real” shop in Gloucester.

You can tell if a supplier is approved and therefore able to sell and support Exo Terra products because they will display the logo. If this logo is not displayed, don’t buy from that “supplier” as the products have not come through the official channels.

exo terra

The Exo Terra range is a well known and respected brand within the hobby and is constantly being reviewed, updated and improved. This is why we are proud to be listed as approved Exo Terra (and other Hagen brands) stockists.

Exo Terra

If you wish to buy an Exo Terra product you can go on line to our web store and order that way, call us on 01452 501882 or drop by the shop in Gloucester. If you have any questions regarding Exo Terra products or keeping any animal do feel free to contact us by any of the above means or using the contact form on this site.

exo terra

 

The Exo Terra range is quite large (the full Hagen brands range absolutely huge!) and we do not claim to have every product in stock at all times. Those we do not currently have are only a few days away at most however so if you need an Exo Terra product that you cannot see on our web site just call us and we will order it in for you.

 

Don’t forget, local Exo Terra customers also benefit from Angell Pets’ FREE LOCAL DELIVERY service on all purchases.

The Angell Pets Team

 

Pet Shop Gloucester tips on general snake handling

Pet Shop Gloucester tips. Just a brief post on 5 top tips on handling NON VENOMOUS snakes from your favourite Gloucester pet shop.

  • If your snake has just fed, DON’T HANDLE IT. Handling a snake after it has just fed can be at best unpleasant and at worst dangerous. Snakes swallow their food whole and rely on strong stomach acids to break it down. Whilst this happens relatively quickly, for the first 24 – 48 hours the snake has a large, hard object in a small, confined space. In the wild they would lay up during this period and allow the acids to do their work. Handling causes the snake to move around and this puts pressure on its stomach (or in the case of inexperienced handlers they may actually squeeze the area). This action can make the snake regurgitate the meal (if it hasn’t already as a threat response), bringing up the very strong stomach acid with it, which can cause damage. Even worse, if the snake doesn’t regurgitate and the meal is still undigested other internal organs can be damaged by the pressure, if handled roughly (or dropped). Then of course there is the risk to you. Even a docile snake may strike when it has just been fed or is digesting its meal. It knows you shouldn’t be picking it up even if you don’t.
  • pet shop gloucester reptile boarding

    One Of Our Reptile Boarders Being Fed

For more advice on feeding snakes come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • If your snake is shedding, DON’T HANDLE IT. It’s not so much that it dangerous for the snake (although it may lead to incomplete shedding) but with its eyes clouded over it can’t see. Would you be in good mood if you suddenly had one of your senses taken away? The snake still has other, very accurate senses, so it can and will tag you.

For more advice on problem shedding come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • So assuming your snake is not shedding and has not been fed within the last 48 hours the most important things is to BE CONFIDENT. Most people who keep snakes will tell you the snake can sense it if you’re nervous. I don’t think they have any ability to sense nerves in you at all, however they can pick up on your body language. If you go in with a hesitant hand, that’s shaking or moving in then pulling back etc. the poor old snake doesn’t know what is going on. When they are unsure of a situation they naturally get defensive and may well strike. I can and have, on several occasions, demonstrated this in the shop where I can simulate a nervous owner and get even a cornsnake to strike or conversely, be confident with a rather nippy kingsnake and not get tagged. In fact someone once brought such a kingsnake into the shop, complete with viv. (as they couldn’t get the snake out, it was so aggressive). The snake was hissing and striking at the glass. I opened the viv. picked the snake straight up and it was quite calm. The owner then hesitantly took the snake off me and promptly got bitten on the neck. Which takes us to the next point.

For more advice or demonstrations on snake handling come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • Keep the snake away from your face. If a snake does bite it should only be able, at worst, to get your hand. If it gets anywhere else, guess what? That was your fault. Staring up close into the face of a snake is a bad idea. Snakes are carnivores, their senses for the most part are binocular and forward facing in order to judge direction, distance and to strike accurately. This means they are particularly sensitive to anything immediately in front of them that moves. If you wave your hand about in front of your snakes head, or worse your nose (especially if it’s as big as mine) you are much more likely to get tagged. Also all reptiles can carry salmonella. Letting a snake touch your face near your mouth (i.e. kissing it!!) is really a bad idea.

For more advice on being bitten by snakes (especially if the snake won’t let go !!) call us at our pet shop Gloucester.

  • Wash your hands afterwards. As stated, snakes can carry salmonella. This bacterium is quite likely to be found on the snakes skin. They poop in the viv and move around – it will transfer bacteria onto its skin. You will be letting the snake run through your hands, you will touch it near its cloaca (vent) where the poop comes out so you will get bacteria on your hands. If you don’t wash your hands immediately you will be transferring bacteria everywhere you touch. Salmonella is a dangerous infection, potentially fatal in infants, the elderly and immune suppressed individuals. If you are fit and healthy you will survive but you will never want to get it again. I have had the disease. It is unpleasant, debilitating, incredibly painful and will take some time to recover from. All you have to do to avoid getting it, or giving it to your family, is wash your hands, preferably with an anti bacterial hand wash. We sell them, so you have no excuse. Also some snakes carry diseases that can be passed onto other snakes, the one that springs to mind is IBD (inclusion body disease) that can infect boids (pythons and boas). It is highly contagious and always fatal to the snake. Always disinfect when moving from one boid viv. to another or any other enclosure for that matter. Cross contamination by the owner is the commonest vector for the spread of mites, for example. An alcohol hand wash will kill any eggs on your skin (it dehydrates them) as well as any bacteria and the mechanical action also helps lift dirt that is harbouring other pathogens.

For more advice on reptile hygiene contact us at our pet shop Gloucester 

I hope these tips are of use. If you have any more questions or need more advanced help with anything just get in touch with our pet shop Gloucester and we will try to help.

Iguana Care Sheet

Iguana. The very first thing to consider when buying an iguana is its adult size. The commonest species, Iguana iguana gets very large. Females around 5 feet, males 6 to 7. Even though a lot of this is tail they are still a large and bulky lizard. Eventually they are going to need a very large enclosure (small room size) so don’t get one if you can’t accommodate this amount of space. If you are sure you can then read on.

red iguana

The next thing is longevity. 12 to 15 years is the norm, 20 years is possible in captivity. So the room you have decided to set aside for the iguana when it reaches adult size needs to remain a “spare room” for that length of time. One of the commonest things we hear is “Do you want my” boa, python, monitor lizard, even bearded dragon. “We’ve a baby on the way and we need the room now”. Things change, who knows what they are going to be doing five years from now, let alone 20. You need to factor your responsibility to your animal into your plans. If you have the space and a contingency if things should change then read on.

An adult iguana is a large animal with powerful jaws, claws and a long tail, which it can use as a very effective whip in defence. Regular short periods of handling when young, so the iguana gains confidence in its owner, will stop it getting truly aggressive but you need to be confident in yourself in handling a large animal. If you have never owned a lizard before (they are very fast as well, especially as youngsters) then think about getting something a little easier first to gain experience. OK, you’re confident you have the space, can accommodate the iguana in any changes that may occur and are sure you can handle such a large beast, what do you have to do to look after it?

Firstly source your iguana. Get a captive bred one. They are generally more docile, do better in captivity, don’t come with a full load of parasites and you will not be contributing to environmental damage. If you buy one on line or on social media from someone who just needs to “get rid” then how confident are you going to be that such an unwanted iguana has been properly looked after. Of course this is true of any animal, not just an iguana. I have seen corn snakes that have been kept in shoe boxes under the bed and just chucked a mouse every few weeks when the “owner” has remembered, bearded dragons with MBD because the UVB lamp has never been changed since they got the lizard, so called breeders who don’t even have the necessary equipment for the babies so just try to sell them off as quickly as possible so they don’t have to get any and so on and so on. Make sure you are using a reliable source, that has a premises you can visit and see the iguana as they are being kept and have the knowledge and experience to give you the advice you need and importantly, with a written  iguana livestock policy. If the seller cannot give you the information you require, don’t buy from them as they cannot have been looking after the iguana properly themselves and you could be buying a problem. If there is a problem, how likely is it you can return the iguana? We want to see you too. We don’t sell our animals on line as we feel we have a responsibility to the iguana not to be selling it to someone who cannot look after it. Buy from someone who knows and who cares.

Housing

As already discussed your are going to need a very large enclosure (up to 12’x6’x6′ for a large adult male iguana) eventually. However a baby iguana is going to look lost in such an enclosure and there are other reasons for starting out in a somewhat smaller vivarium. Firstly it is supposed that a baby iguana can sometimes find it difficult to find the food and water in a large enclosure. Certainly not the ones we have had! Also you wonder how the wild ones get on outside. I think that is maybe truer for animals that have to hunt insects. That said, why take a risk when there are other reasons to start smaller. Catching a nervous baby iguana is not easy in a large space. I am getting on now and bending down is not as easy as it once was. I had to try to catch an iguana in the shop that escaped whilst a customer was viewing it the other day and could only do it once I had in cornered in a smaller space. Much easier to catch an iguana in a smaller vivarium. Also catching them will be quicker and therefore less stressful to the iguana. You are trying to get it used to being handled and not to see you as a threat. Much better they get used to you opening the viv’ and just quickly picking them up than chasing them round a room first.

Heating

The iguana comes from tropical and sub tropical America (mainly central and south). They like it warm and humid. A basking area hot spot of up to 48C dropping to 25 and the coldest end. Heating is best achieved with lamps although some background heating may be required in a larger enclosure. Importantly there must be a temperature gradient with areas for the iguana to sit in so it can move around the enclosure to regulate its body temperature. They do better with heat coming from above. A heat mat on the floor can result in thermal blocking with any larger animal so if using a mat for overnight temperature in a smaller vivarium, have it mounted on the end wall, off the floor so the iguana cannot lay on top of it and overheat. A UVA  basking light for daytime heat and an infra red lamp or ceramic heat emitter for night time heat is ideal, although you do need to ensure the iguana cannot touch the lamp and burn. In the adult enclosure more than one lamp or heat source will be necessary. Only one may heat the animals head but it is 6 feet long so the body would not get any benefit. In other words increase the size of the basking area as the iguana grows. Keeping any animal at such high temperatures is almost impossible without some way of controlling the temperature. Ambient temperature is going to change. A heat source that achieves 45C on a cold winters night is going to be considerably hotter on a hot summers day so a thermostat is essential. Overheating will kill an iguana much quicker than it being kept too cool.

Lighting

An iguana is a diurnal lizards. They are active during the day (they have an organ under the skin on the top of their heads often called a third or parietal eye that detects light and some movement). An iguana will also require UVB lighting. This is not the light provided by the basking spot lamp (unless you use a combined heat and UVB lamp). Normal basking lamps DO NOT provided UVB light although some do provide UVA. UVB is essential for allowing the iguana to manufacture vitamin D3 in its skin. Vitamin D3 is used in the metabolism of calcium from the diet. Without a good source of UVB the iguana cannot get calcium from their food and their bodies will then start to scavenge it from the only source left which is the bones. This leads to metabolic bone disease (MBD) and can be fatal. It is even more likely in a growing iguana as the calcium demand is higher. Of course in the wild they are in full sunlight and you cannot get a better UV source than that (so taking your iguana into the garden on a hot summers day is a good thing – do make sure you don’t have toxic ornamental plants though).

One thing often overlooked is that UVB bulbs and tubes, whilst they may carry on working as a light source, stop giving out UVB after a while (depending on which type). After 6 moths UVB tubes start to deteriorate and after a year are not producing any appreciable UVB light at all. You will need to change tubes at around 9 months usage, so make sure you record when you last changed the lamp. Also UV does not travel very far from the source. Having a lamp on the top of a 6 foot high enclosure and expecting the UVB to reach an iguana on the ground is beyond wishful thinking. You will need to provide a basking area close (around 12 inches) to the UVB lamp to ensure the iguana is getting enough to manufacture vitamin D3. This is OK as iguanas are mostly arboreal and so will spend most of their time on strategically placed branches and ledges.

 

Substrate and decor

Substrate choice is always a subject that creates debate (or in a lot of cases out and out slanging matches). I have my own personal preferences and my own reasons for that choice and you may have yours. As I don’t know your choices and reasons I will give mine instead. Certainly for a smaller enclosure I prefer bark chips (also known as orchid bark). I like it as it looks natural and also as it can help maintain the humidity of the vivarium by retaining some moisture. There is a perceived risk of an iguana accidentally ingesting it and subsequent impaction but I have never known this and by using a large food bowl and disposing of uneaten, spilt food this can be avoided. Sometime I have mixed it with coir (coco fibres) to make it go further and sometimes added a layer of dead leaves or moss for an even more natural look, particularly when going the whole hog and setting up a naturalistic environment complete with detrivores to clean up the poop and waste food. However that’s a subject on its own so I won’t cover it further here. In a large adult iguana enclosure this can get expensive and lots of people use just newspaper. Normally I am not a fan as I don’t like the look of it and the animals cannot get a grip on the surface. However with iguanas they are not going spend enough time out of the branches for that to be a problem. I still don’t like the look though. Some people use straw or alfalfa pellets. Again not my favourite. There is little risk if ingested as, after all, it is just food. However any water spilt on it turns it to mush and it can then smell. Of course you don’t have to use anything in a large enclosure, just have a surface that is easy to wipe clean but do keep it clean!

As already stated, an iguana needs branches and ledges to climb around on (hence the need for height in their enclosure). Artificial greenery (personally, I prefer silk plants to plastic) works well and looks good. If you are going to use real plants make sure they are not toxic as the iguana will at least try to eat them. Any thing purchased from a garden centre will have been sprayed with pesticide and may also have pesticide in the soil of the pot. Go organic. Whichever you choose, the more the merrier. A young iguana especially will appreciate the hiding spots.

Food

The iguana is a vegetarian, completely. Yes in the wild they are bound to eat the odd insect or slug that is on their food but only by accident. Feeding animal protein in any amount will lead to renal problems as the kidneys are overloaded.

90% of the diet needs to be green fibrous food such as rocket, lettuces, kale, dandelions etc. The other 10% can be made up of squashes, cucumber, grated carrot etc. and small amounts of fruit (ours love a bit of mango). Go easy on the fruit though, as too much can upset the stomach which is not good for the iguana and you are the one that has to clear up the resultant mess. There are also commercially prepared iguana packaged foods available. Whilst I would not advocate feeding these exclusively to an iguana, they make a good “cupboard staple” for those times when, for whatever reason, you just can’t get out to get some fresh food. Our iguana likes tortoise pellets now and then and since these contain calcium and vitamin supplements they make a good occasional treat.

Supplementation of the food with calcium powder and occasionally vitamin powder will ensure a healthy iguana throughout its life.

Whilst small, chop the food up quite finely. They don’t really chew as such and will swallow lumps whole, so keeping the pieces small will only help. Always feed good quality food fresh. Remove any uneaten food before it goes nasty and it is an artificially hot environment, it will go nasty quickly.

Always provide fresh water daily. A bowl large enough for a youngster to get into is good. Regular misting will also help maintain humidity (which helps when shedding skin) and ensure youngsters are getting water to drink. You can adjust humidity further by moving the water bowl. At the cool end there will be less evaporation than in the hot end.

red iguana

With proper care and handling IGUANAS do make good pets. They do seem to get to recognise and interact with their owners and each has its own unique character. Unless you are very experienced though (and if you are you probably wouldn’t be bothering to read this) avoid getting an adult. If it hasn’t been properly looked after it is likely to be aggressive and such a powerful animal is going to do some damage. Always see and handle any animal first, before committing to buy. Above all appreciate you are taking over responsibility for the animal when you buy it and all that entails. If you are not sure you have the space, time and finances don’t.

 

The Angell Pets Team