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Keeping iguanas warm

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer
May 13, 2012 — Iguanas are climate-sensitive, but experts say they make great pets.

Experts say iguanas can be very affectionate
Experts say iguanas can be very affectionate

Iguanas are becoming increasingly popular pets -- and one unfortunate side effect is their growing presence in animal shelters.

According to R.A.R.E., a New York rescue, iguanas are one of the most commonly-surrendered reptile pets in the U.S., and it's a problem north of the border as well.

"People will buy them as babies because they're cute, but once they get bigger, they don't know how to handle them," says Toronto-based iguana rescuer Rob Citte.

Homeless iguanas are often released into the wild -- and that can spell disaster, according to Citte.

The reptiles are sensitive to fluctuating temperatures and aren't built to withstand the extreme weather that Canada often sees.

Iguanas thrive in the heat
Iguanas thrive in the heat

"If the temperature gets too cold, they'll go dormant, and if it gets really cold they can actually die," Citte says.

Iguanas thrive in the heat, favouring daytime temperatures between 28°C and 32°C and a nighttime climate that hovers around the 20°C mark.

A primary heat source - which can come in the form of incandescent bulbs, heating pads, ceramic infrared heat emitters and space heaters - will help regulate the temperature in an iguana's living space.

They can live for more than 20 years, and Citte says they make wonderful - albeit weather-sensitive - pets.

"Once you get to hold one you can see they're actually quite affectionate animals," he says.

"They become a part of the family."

Learn more about animal care by visiting the Pets & Weather section of the website.

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