In the past couple of years, iguanas have rapidly grown in popularity to the point where they’re one of the most beloved reptiles to have as a pet. Their majestic, dinosaur-like appearance attracts many lizard lovers to this creature. Their rise in popularity as a pet has been attributed to the ‘dinomania’ phenomenon after the release of the movie Jurassic Park.
If you’re considering getting an iguana as a pet, you’re probably wondering how much it costs. All pets have a cost associated with them, you have to buy (or adopt) the pet itself, you have to feed them, you have to house them, and more. Before you take on the responsibility of caring for a pet it’s always good to do preliminary research to see if you’re ready financially for this commitment so you won’t encounter any unexpected costs. There’s nothing worse than buying a pet only to find out that you’re not ready to take proper care of it.
In today’s post, I’m going to give a complete breakdown of the cost of getting an iguana as a pet. I’ll go over the upfront price of getting one of the reptiles as a pet and the monthly costs that you have to consider. I will consider both routes in this guide: adoption and purchasing from a breeder to give the most complete overview.
- 1 What is the price of an iguana
- 2 Buy from a pet shop or breeder?
- 3 Other factors that determine the price of an iguana
- 4 Cost of housing your iguana
- 5 Cost of feeding
- 6 Vet costs
- 7 Miscellaneous costs (toys, carriers, decorations, etc)
- 8 Complete cost breakdown
- 9 Conclusion
What is the price of an iguana
The price of an iguana depends on many things. You first have to decide whether you want to adopt or buy from a breeder. Usually buying an iguana is cheaper than adopting one, but this changes on a case-by-case scenario.
Also, there are price disparities between the different kinds of iguanas. Some iguanas are rarer than others. For instance, the most expensive iguana I’ve seen, a baby translucent albino scaleless iguana, will cost you $3000. However, this is an outlier and most iguanas are much cheaper.
If you choose to buy an iguana the price usually ranges between $10-$550 depending on the kind (color) of iguana you want. Green iguanas are the most common and therefore the cheapest while rhino iguanas are the most expensive.
Cost of adopting an iguana
When you adopt an iguana you usually pay an adoption fee of around $75 but it can also be free, it depends on the situation. When you adopt an iguana you’ll usually get one that’s fully grown rather than a hatchling or a baby.
The benefit of adopting an iguana is that you’re taking care of an iguana that the previous owner no longer wanted and giving him a loving home. There are quite a lot of iguanas available for adoption because many people who get one as a hatchling don’t realize how big these lizards really get.
When they’re a hatchling they’re small and cute but in no time they grow to a formidable size. With that comes a lot of responsibility and unfortunately a lot of people are unequipped to handle that. As a result, people release them in the wild, which is something you should never do, or bring them to a shelter.
Cost of buying an iguana
The most common way to get an iguana is to buy it. There’s a huge range of prices that you can pay for iguanas, starting from only $10 for a green hatchling to $550 for a socialized rhino baby iguana. Some iguanas are cheap, others are expensive.
Let’s take a look at the most popular kinds of iguanas and their prices. I will go over them and their prices starting from the cheapest and ending at the most expensive.
Green iguana price
A green iguana baby is the most common and cheapest. The cheapest I’ve seen these being sold for is $10 for one and $25 for 3 of them. The most expensive I’ve seen them being sold at is $55.
Red iguana price
The red iguana is more expensive than the green one. The price for a red iguana is around $50 to $110 depending on where you buy them.
Blue Iguana price
The Axanthic or blue iguana costs around $80 to $190. It’s one of the more expensive iguanas but has a very beautiful blue shade that you don’t see very often. They were on the brink of extinction with only an estimated 15 of them living in the wild at some point. Currently, their situation is more stable and in captivity, there are quite a lot of them available.
Rhino iguana price
The Rhino iguana is the most expensive of the popular pet iguanas. It can range in price from $500 to $600. The reason why these iguanas are so much more expensive than the other ones is that they’re considered the most docile of the iguanas and are most easily trained.
Buy from a pet shop or breeder?
I would not recommend you buy an iguana from a pet shop. They are usually stressed, in poor health, and can even have parasites. They might be cheaper, but in the long run, you’ll usually end up paying more in vet bills and other costs than if you’d pick one from a reliable breeder.
Many pet shops also stopped selling iguanas because of their misleadingly small size when they are young. Pet shops would sometimes not disclose how large iguanas would grow, which would then surprise their owners who were unable to take care of them.
If you’re considering getting an iguana, be prepared that it will grow very large (up to 6 feet, 20 pounds).
Other factors that determine the price of an iguana
I’ve already gone over the fact that different kinds of iguanas command a different prices, but there are other factors at play that determine the price of an iguana.
- Hatchling vs baby: There’s a pretty big difference between the price of getting a hatchling or a baby iguana. Usually, it’s cheapest to get a hatchling. The reason for this is that babies have usually been socialized to become accustomed to humans.
- Wild-caught vs captive-bred: Captive-bred iguanas are more expensive than wild-caught. The reason why is because when they’re wild-caught they’re usually much less friendly to humans than when they’re captive-bred.
- Supply and demand: Blue iguanas are much more expensive than green iguanas, but why is that? The main reason is supply and demand. There’s less supply of the blue than the green iguanas which drives the price up.
Cost of housing your iguana
Before you get an iguana, you should of course have their enclosure ready for them. Unfortunately, the cages you can buy in stores aren’t good. They can house a hatchling and baby iguana for a while, but eventually, they will grow too large for these enclosures to be good for them. They are too small and are incapable of holding moisture properly. Therefore, you’re going to have to either build one yourself or get one custom-made.
Getting one custom-made can be very expensive ($4000 or more) but building one yourself will cost you much less. How much it will cost depends on how big you want to make their enclosure and the cost of materials in your area. It can range anywhere from around $150 to $1000+ if you want to get fancy. There are many enclosure building plans you can find online.
The amount you’ll have to pay to create an appropriate living area for your iguana highly depends on where you live. If you live in a cold climate you’ll have to pay more than when you live in a climate that’s similar to their natural habitat.
You need to create a temperature, humidity, and amount of light that’s comparable to their natural habitat for your iguana to be able to thrive. As I’ve said, the monthly cost of electricity will depend on where you live and how much your electricity costs. A good estimate would be around $10-20 a month if you’ll have to do a lot of climate control.
Cost of feeding
Now that you know the upfront cost of buying your iguana and housing him, let’s move on to the monthly recurring cost of feeding him.
The cost to feed your iguana will be around $10 per month. This of course depends on your location and the price of food where you live, but $10/month is a good estimate. Iguanas are primarily herbivores meaning the bulk of their diet consists of vegetables and fruits. They mainly eat collard greens and kale, which luckily aren’t very expensive vegetables, combined with some fruits.
Another thing you have to keep in mind is vet costs. Of course, this will highly depend on how you care for your iguana’s health and pure luck. If there’s rarely anything wrong with their health it won’t be very expensive. However, if there’s something wrong the costs can rack up quickly. For instance, if your iguana has an infection and needs urgent veterinary care then you might have to pay upwards of $3000 for that.
There are also regular check-ups to consider. I would budget around $200-$300 a year in veterinary costs per iguana.
Some signs to look out for to see if your iguana is sick are these:
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Loss of balance
Miscellaneous costs (toys, carriers, decorations, etc)
You don’t want your iguana to get bored so you’ll need to get him some toys. You will also need a water bowl, food dishes, and other accessories.
The cost of iguana toys depends on what you’re getting them, but the best toy is a small pool for them to swim in. They will absolutely love this. They are natural swimmers and it gives them a good way to cool down if they need to during hot summers. You can buy a simple inflatable kid’s pool and put it in your backyard or on your balcony. They cost around $25-$40.
Their feeding bowl will cost around $5 to $25 while their water bowl will cost around $10.
If you need to take your iguana somewhere, for instance to the vet, you will need a carrier. Usually, you can buy a carrier for around $30-$40.
In total, the miscellaneous costs add up to around $100-$200.
Complete cost breakdown
So, now that we’ve discussed the individual aspects of how much it costs to own an iguana, let’s see how much they cost upfront and every month.
The upfront cost of buying an iguana:
- $10-$550 for the lizard itself
- $150-$1000 for the enclosure
- $200 miscellaneous costs
So, the total upfront cost of buying an iguana is $360 on the cheap and $1750 on the high end, which is a pretty immense difference. The reason why there’s such a big difference is that certain types of iguanas are much more expensive than others. The same applies to their enclosures, you can choose to spend as much or as little as you want.
The monthly cost of maintaining an iguana:
- Food: $10-20 a month
- Vet costs: $20 a month
- Electricity $10-20 a month
The overall upkeep of an iguana adds up to around $40-60 per month depending on how much you’ll have to spend on heating their enclosure.
Now we know everything that we need to know about the cost of getting an iguana. Hopefully, this guide has prepared you for the expenses you should budget for when you’re considering getting one of the lizards as your pet so you won’t end up having any unwanted surprises.
If there’s anything else you’d like to know when it comes to the cost of keeping an iguana as a pet, feel free to let me know by leaving a comment.
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