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How to Care* for Your (Cuban) Rock Iguana

How to Care* for Your (Cuban) Rock Iguana

(photo credit BirdLife.org)


Rock Iguanas, of the genus Cyclura, are very large (up to 4 1/2’), diurnal, terrestrial reptiles native to the Caribbean.  There are a large number of species and some hybrids that are available in the pet trade.  One of the most common species of Rock Iguana is the Cuban Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila ).  Note that the Rhino Iguana is also classified in the genus Cyclura and their care is similar. Cuban Rock Iguanas are primarily gray, with additional striping or markings that can range from red to blue to tan. They are heavy-bodied and notable for the “dorsal crest” that runs from the shoulders, along the back, and onto the tail. They are considered to be advanced level pets due to their size. 


Adult Cuban Rock Ignauas require an enclosure with a minimal size of 8’-12’x4’x6’ tallAlthough these lizards are primarily terrestrial, they often climb to bask, so they require sturdy branches to enable them to get close enough to the heat and light source for basking. Given the size of the adult Cuban Rock Iguana, the most appropriate enclosure will either be a large wood frame, and wire structure or a walk-in closet or small room adapted as an iguana cage. The substrate can be newspaper, reptile carpet, or eco earth.   The cage should include a water bowl, though most Cuban Rock Iguanas get their hydration from the food they eat. A hide box large enough for the iguana to enter, i.e., at least 4’ long, should be provided. 

Heating and Lighting

Cuban Rock Iguanas require a basking area with temperatures of 120 degrees F.  Basking lamps are often placed toward the top of the enclosure with a shelf or branch that would allow the lizard to be about 12” below the light when basking.  In addition, a full spectrum light is required to provide the lizard with UV.  Due to the iguana’s size, a group of 3-4 lights may be required to provide adequate heat and light. The air temperature on the cool side of the enclosure should be about 80F. Cuban Rock Iguanas can tolerate temperatures down into the 50’s.

Food and Supplementation

Cuban Rock Iguanas are entirely fruit and vegetable eaters and do not eat any appreciable number of insects or worms.  Their diet should consist primarily of healthy green leafy vegetables (not lettuce) and other vegetables such as squash, peppers, and green beans, as well as flowers such as dandelions and hibiscus.  Fruit is also appreciated but should be a relatively minor component of the diet.  It is important to provide a low protein diet for Cuban Rock Iguanas. Food should be dusted with calcium and vitamin D3.   Cuban Rock Iguanas should be fed every day.  Their fruits and vegetables should be chopped, well mixed, and served in a substrate-free environment.

*This care sheet contains only very basic information.  If you are new to Cuban Rock Iguanas, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.

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