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What Are Common Iguana Health Problems?

Pet iguanas can get burned by heat lamps in their enclosure.
Marine iguanas should eat a plant-based diet and can encounter health issues when they are fed improperly.
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  • Written By: D. Woods
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2014
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There are a number of common problems that could affect an iguana’s health. Some of the most notable iguana health problems include metabolic bone disease, egg binding and bladder stones. Many of these health problems, however, can be avoided by practicing proper iguana care.

The most common iguana health problem is metabolic bone disease (MBD), which primarily is found in captive iguanas. MBD usually occurs when new iguana owners are given incorrect dietary information. For example, many new owners are told to feed lettuce to their iguana. Although lettuce provides a significant amount of moisture, it lacks the vitamins and minerals that iguanas need. If an iguana will eat only lettuce, a vitamin-mineral powder can be added as a topical dressing.

Another common iguana health problem is egg binding. It occurs when a pregnant female iguana cannot expel an egg from the reproductive tract. This can occur as a result of malnutrition or eggs that are deformed. Treatment for egg binding includes surgery and medication.

Bladder stones also are a very common problem associated with iguana health. The urine in iguanas contains minerals that usually are broken down naturally, but if they are not broken down, they will begin to accumulate, which can cause bladder stones to develop. The iguana might become lethargic and begin to strain during urination. If the bladder stone continues to grow, the iguana's abdomen may swell. Successful extraction of a bladder stone can be achieved only through surgery.

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Nose abrasions also are common iguana health problems. An iguana can obtain a nose abrasion by bumping its nose up against the wall of its enclosure. This usually happens as a result of the iguana trying to get out of the enclosure. Over time, an abrasion can develop on the nose and could lead to more serious injuries.

Burns are yet another common health problem associated with iguanas. Many iguana owners purchase light bulbs and heat lamps to provide their pet with a source of light and heat, but these products can be detrimental to the iguana's health. If the iguana is not cautious, it can get burned when it makes contact with these products. Burns can be prevented, however, by installing a protective device on or around any potentially harmful products.

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