How Much Does an Iguana Cost?

Last Updated on March 11, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Iguanas are fascinating reptiles that can make for unique and rewarding pets. However, their exotic nature also comes with specialized care requirements and costs. If you’re considering bringing one of these incredible lizards into your home, it’s important to understand both the initial and ongoing expenses involved in providing your iguana a healthy, enriching life.

In this guide, we’ll break down the various costs associated with iguana ownership, from the purchase price to habitat setup to ongoing care and veterinary needs. We’ll also offer tips for keeping costs manageable without compromising your pet’s well-being. Read on to learn what’s involved financially so you can make an informed decision before committing to an iguana companion.

How Much Does an Iguana Cost?

The initial cost of purchasing an iguana ranges widely from as low as $20 up to more than $1000-$2000, depending on factors like species, age, size, and source. Here are some price ranges you can typically expect:

  • Baby green iguanas$20 to $100, purchased from a pet store or breeder. Mass-bred green iguana babies are the most budget-friendly.
  • Juvenile green iguanas$50 to $250 depending on the size and age. Prices increase as they grow.
  • Adult green iguanas$100 to $500. Adult breeding stock commands higher price tags.
  • Rare species like the Cayman blue, rhino iguana, or desert iguana range from $250 for babies up to $1,000+ for color morph adults due to specialized breeding.
  • Adopted adult iguanas may have a modest $50 to $200 adoption fee if being re-homed through reptile rescues, shelters, or via classifieds. This is the most affordable option for adults.
  • Specialty color morphs like albinos, hypomelanistics, and other unique genetic lines often cost $500 to over $1,000 depending on rarity.

In most cases, younger and more common green iguanas will be your most budget-friendly options for bringing one of these fascinating lizards home.

IguanasLife states that the most expensive iguana is the blue iguana, which can cost up to $30,000. On average, caring for an iguana can cost at least $100 per month, factoring in food and vet care expenses.

Petco offers iguanas for sale at a price of $59.99.

Tortoise Town offers green iguanas for sale ranging from $629.95 to $699.95, along with other species like the rhino iguana at prices around $350-$500 depending on age and quality.

Underground Reptiles provides a range of iguanas for sale with prices varying from $0 to $3,500 depending on the species and quality.

Species-Specific Cost Considerations

Different iguana species have varied specialized care and space requirements that affect costs:

  • Green iguanas are the most common and moderately priced but require expansive enclosures as adults.
  • Spiny-tailed iguanas stay smaller so need less space but are pricey and challenging pets.
  • Chuckwallas are calmer with simpler diets but need extremely hot and dry environments.

Research the specific species you’re interested in to ensure you can accommodate its needs. Rare and delicate species will have higher upfront and ongoing costs.

Habitat and Enclosure Costs

Given that green iguanas can grow to 6 feet long, an adequately sized habitat and enclosure is essential for your iguana’s health and comfort. Initial setup costs for creating a suitable living space include:

  • Large wire cage, $200 for juveniles up to $600+ for an extra-large adult iguana enclosure.
  • UVB and basking heat bulbs and fixtures, $150 to $300. Reptile specialty bulb types are required.
  • Substrate and landscaping materials like orchid bark, sphagnum moss, cypress mulch, and soft sand, $50 to $150.
  • Hides, climbing branches, hammocks, and platforms for behavioral enrichment, $100 to $300.
  • Food and water dishes, $25 to $50. Use sturdy ceramic for water.
  • Tank or pad heaters to establish ambient temperature, $50 to $200 depending on wattage needed.
  • Thermostat to control temperatures safely, $50 to $150.
  • Handling gloves and accessories, $20+

All told, expect to invest roughly $500 to $1,500 on the habitat setup, not counting the cost of the iguana itself. Properly sized enclosures and lighting are non-negotiable for your pet’s health.

Temperature and Humidity Control Necessities

In addition to habitat essentials, proper heating and humidity maintenance is vital for your iguana’s well-being. Necessary equipment includes:

  • Under tank heat mats or ceramic heat emitters, $25 to $75 each depending on wattage. Often multiple are needed.
  • Digital thermometers and hygrometers ($15-$30 each) to carefully monitor temperature and humidity in the habitat.
  • Humidifier or fogger ($50 and up) if supplemental humidity is needed based on your climate.
  • Emergency backup power heat sources like a ceramic heater in case of an electrical outage.

Budget at least $200 to $500 to adequately regulate temperature and humidity. Iguanas quickly become ill if they get too cold given their tropical origins.

Ongoing Iguana Care Costs

Beyond the initial expenses of acquisition and habitat setup, appropriately caring for an iguana involves a number of additional regular recurring costs including:

  • Fresh produce – Varying mixes of vegetables, greens, fruits, edible flowers, and sprouted seeds cost $15 to $50+ monthly depending on your iguana’s size and appetite.
  • Insect protein – Crickets, mealworms, waxworms, or other feeder insects run $10-20 monthly, essential for adult iguanas a few times per week.
  • Vitamin supplements – Calcium and vitamin D3 powders cost $10 to $25 every 2-3 months and are vital for bone health.
  • Healthcare – Annual veterinary exams cost $100 to $200 per visit just for a checkup.
  • Habitat maintenance – Cleaning supplies, new UVB/heat bulbs every 6 months, etc. Budget $50 to $100+ per month.
  • Electricity for lighting/heating – Depending on your climate and the wattage of heat lamps and accessories used, plan on $10 to $100 monthly for operating costs.

All told, expect to spend approximately $100 to $400 per month in recurring expenses for a properly cared-for iguana’s food, healthcare, utilities, and other regular costs.

Veterinary Care Costs

Iguanas seem prone to a number of health issues ranging from metabolic bone disease and other nutritional deficiencies to bacterial and fungal infections, parasites, and more. Just some potential common veterinary costs include:

  • Annual exams – $75 to $150 per visit for an exotic vet checkup.
  • Lab tests – $80 to $200 to check for parasites, kidney function, reproductive disorders, and other issues.
  • Medications – Antibiotics, antifungals, or other medications easily cost $20 to $60+ for a course of treatment.
  • Injuries or illnesses – Costs widely vary based on the severity of the condition but can quickly run $500+ for diagnostics and treatment.

Having a dedicated emergency fund for such vet costs is wise for any pet, but especially essential for iguanas given their specialized care needs. Many owners also opt to purchase exotic pet insurance policies to help offset unpredictable healthcare costs.

Budgeting Wisely for Your Iguana’s Needs

Iguana SpecimenFrom the initial enclosure setup to ongoing food, utility, and medical costs, properly caring for pet iguanas requires a substantial financial commitment. Here are some budgeting tips:

  • Thoroughly research proper iguana care to avoid costly surprises or unmet needs. Reptile specialty forums are helpful.
  • Price shop carefully when selecting the habitat and get the largest suitable enclosure possible within your budget to avoid upgrading repeatedly.
  • Invest in proper lighting, heating, humidity, and temperature control from the start to help prevent expensive health issues. Don’t cut corners here.
  • Find exotic-friendly veterinarians for checkups and establish a relationship early on. Ask about costs for common procedures.
  • Look into exotic pet insurance plans and emergency funds to be prepared for pricey veterinary crises.
  • Grow your own greens and veggies in a garden or under lights to supplement store-bought food costs.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a penguin, praying mantis, or lion cub.

With adequate planning, resourcefulness, and care, iguana costs

Legal and Ethical Considerations

If you are purchasing an iguana rather than adopting one, be sure to first check regulations in your area, as some municipalities restrict iguana ownership due to environmental concerns. Never release non-native iguanas into the wild as they can become invasive.

You’ll also want to carefully weigh the ethical implications of taking on the long-term needs of an exotic reptile dependent entirely on your care. Their complex needs demand an extensive commitment. Never make the decision to purchase an iguana on impulse. Make sure you are fully ready for a lifelong responsibility!

Final Words

Iguanas offer enriching companionship but also require substantial financial investment in their habitat, diet, healthcare, and other needs. With preparation and budgeting, a savvy iguana owner can expect to spend $800 to $2,000 initially, followed by $100 to $300 in monthly expenses for a healthy and enriching lifetime of care.

Do your research, ask questions, and plan ahead – your new iguana friend will be relying on you!

Frequently Asked Questions

What to know before buying an iguana?

Research proper care guidelines. Ensure the species is legal in your area. Budget for a large enclosure as they grow. Find an exotic vet. Proof your home from hazards. Make a plan for lifelong care.

Where do iguanas spend most of their time?

Iguanas are arboreal, meaning they live in trees. Provide climbable branches and foliage for ample climbing space. The enclosure floor is used for feeding only.

What do you need for an iguana?

A large wire cage, basking and UVB lighting, warm ambient temperatures, substrate, hiding places, climbing branches, food/water dishes, humidity around 65%, calcium supplements, and regular veterinary care.

How much space does an iguana need?

Baby iguanas need at least a 30-gallon tank. By 1 year, a 4’x2’x2’ cage is required. Adult iguanas need enclosures 6’ high by 6’ wide by 3’ deep minimum. Bigger is always better!

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