Rhino Iguana as Pet

Rhino Iguana

The rhino iguana (rhinoceros iguana) is primarily found on the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola (occupied by the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic).  The rhino iguana is an endangered species.  They got the name “rhino iguana” because of the rhinoceros-like horn on the top of their head.  Male rhino iguanas have a larger horn than female rhino iguanas.

The rhino iguana can live from 15 to 17 years.  With human care, they sometimes liver over 20 years.  One rhino iguana living at the Australia Zoo holds a Guinness World Record for a life span exceeding 40 years in captivity.

Why do people like rhino iguanas?

People like rhino iguanas because they are easy to hand and make good pets.  Even though they are large, these iguanas are mild-mannered and can be easily trained.  They are also friendly and bold.

Do rhino iguanas make good pets?

Yes!  Rhino iguanas make good pets because they are intelligent and friendly.  Baby rhino iguanas do not bite but don’t let this lead you to over-handle them before creating a bond.

Are rhino iguanas aggressive?

Yes!  The rhino iguana is an aggressive reptile, but they are not aggressive all the time.  If they are not handled to their liking, or they are afraid, they will get aggressive. They attack aggressively, hit with their dense tail, scratch, and sometimes bite.  An adult rhino iguana bite can cause a deep wound, but the bite itself is not harmful.

Aggressive Rhino Iguana

Size and color of rhino iguanas

Size:  They can grow from 2 to 4.5 feet (60 to 136 cm) in length from head to tail.

Weight:  The rhino iguana weighs between 10 and 20 lbs.

Color:  The skin color of this species ranges from steely gray to dark green or brown.

Healthy diets for rhino iguanas

Rhino iguanas are omnivores, which means they eat both vegetables and meat.  They need variety in their diet to stay healthy.  Their diet should consist of the following:

Rhino iguanas should eat leaves, shrubs, flowers, and fruit such as

  • Greens (turnip, collard, mustard, beet)
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Dandelions
  • Escarole
  • Grated root crops (carrots, beets, etc.)
  • Grated squashes
  • Kale

In the case of insects, rhino iguanas eat insects like

  • Carrion
  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Cockroaches

Supplements for rhino iguanas

Your iguana needs calcium and other vitamins such as Repashy Superveggie.  Repashy Superveggie can be used every day to maintain healthy growth for your pet rhino iguana.  You also need to provide vitamin D3 in their diet.

Healthy Rhino Iguana

Signs your rhino iguana is healthy

  • All their limbs and tail move freely
  • The iguana consumes regular amounts of food
  • Their scales are clean, their hips aren’t too big, and their tail is firm and full
  • Their eyes are clear and open

Enclosures for rhino iguanas

Rhino iguanas are not social reptiles, so they do best when they are alone.  If you need to house two iguanas in the same cage, make sure they are of different genders and in a large enough cage.

Their enclosure should have bedding material, branches, nesting boxes, plants, and small pools to replicate their natural environment.

Rhino iguanas don’t need tall enclosures, but they do need one large enough to move around in.  This size should be about 24lx18wx36h for the first six months and 36lx18wx48h after seven months of age.  As adults, enclosures should be eight feetx4 feetx3 feet.  If your iguana’s enclosure is too small, they will be unhappy and cease to grow properly.

Temperatures for rhino iguana enclosures

Heat is important to rhino iguanas because it facilitates growth and digestion.  The rhino’s cage should be kept at a temperature of approximately 85 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit overnight.

UVB lighting

Rhino iguanas need UVB lighting to absorb calcium and synthesize vitamin D3.  Since your pet won’t get enough natural sunlight to do this properly, it is extra important to provide them with UVB lights inside their cage.


Humidity is important for pet iguanas.  Rhino iguanas can absorb moisture through their food, so you can provide moisture via fresh water in a dish.  Relative humidity in their enclosure should be about 60%.  You can achieve this by misting the enclosure at least twice a day.

Rhino iguana reproduction

Male rhino iguanas reach sexual maturity at 4 to 5 years of age, but females are sexually mature at 2 to 3 years of age.  Mating occurs prior to the first monsoon season, which May to June.  After 40 days, the female rhino iguana will lay between 2 and 34 eggs.  Rhino iguanas have the world’s largest hatching eggs.

Common diseases affecting rhino iguanas

Bacterial diseases

Rhino iguanas get a disease called Zoonosis.  This bacterial disease comes from common bacteria like Salmonella, Mycobacterium, Bampylobacter, Aeromonas, Escherichia coli, and several others.

The most common bacterial infection in rhino iguanas is Salmonella that occurs on the surface of their skin.  This bacteria can spread to humans through bites, scratches, and while cleaning enclosures.

Keeping your rhino iguana clean and regularly cleaning their cage can prevent this bacterial disease.

Nutritional Health Issues

When rhino iguanas don’t get enough calcium and vitamins, they can develop Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).  You can avoid this by making sure they get the proper amount of calcium and providing UVB lighting.

Rhino Iguana Disease

Rhino iguanas suffer from something called dysecdysis when they are kept in captivity.  Dysecdysis is another name for abnormal skin shedding.  This can be avoided by maintaining proper humidity levels and regularly spraying or watering your iguana.

Fungal diseases

Fungal diseases can occur in rhino iguanas when their environment is improperly regulated with high humidity, low humidity, poor husbandry practices, and sanitation problems. 

You can treat fungal diseases in rhino iguanas by providing them with povidone-iodine and 5% chlorhexidine gluconate diluted with water.

Signs of stress in rhino iguanas

  • Dark or muddy colored skin
  • More or less defecation than normal
  • Hiding more often
  • Sleeping all the time
  • Unable to sit still for any period of time
  • Low or zero food intake
  • Suppressed behavioral changes