Spiny Tailed Iguana

Spiny-Tailed Iguana as Pet

Spiny-tailed iguanas are lizards the originate in Mexico, Central America, and Colombia.  This species was introduced to the United States via the state of Florida in 1970.

There are 18 different species of spiny-tailed iguana.  The lifespan of the spiny-tailed iguana is about 15 years, but some male iguanas can live over 20 years if they are well cared for.

Are spiny-tailed iguanas good pets?

Spiny-tailed iguanas can make great pets or display animals.  Once they recognize you as a friendly person, they will develop a bond with you.  It is, however, a big deal for them to develop trust with someone.

Spiny-tailed iguanas cost between $175 and $200.

This species is the lowest maintenance species of all iguanas and also the friendliest.  Some spiny iguanas are very social with their guardians.

Are spiny-tailed iguanas friendly?

Not all spiny-tailed iguanas are the same.  Some are tame, friendly, and love to interact with humans, but iguanas are wild, and you will need to be patient while interacting with them.  Most spiny-tailed iguanas hate being handled, but they will still make a good companion once they completely trust you.

Are spiny-tailed iguanas aggressive?

Yes!  They are aggressive.  If you handle them too much, be careful because iguanas can get aggressive when they are overhandled.  They can get nervous, bite you, or lash out with their tails when they are triggered.

Aggressive Spiny Tail Iguana

Spiny-tailed iguana behavior

This species of iguana does not trust easily, so they don’t make good friends with strangers.  You will have to work hard to gain their trust by taking time and caring for them properly.

Do not hold an iguanas tail as it feels uncomfortable for them.  If they trust you, they will be your best friend and cooperate with you.  They will also be more controlled once they trust you.

Natural habits of spiny-tailed iguanas

  • These species of iguana are semi-arboreal.  They like to spend their time in trees or rest in hollow trees.  They also like to spend time on land in crevices of rocks and caves.  They are happiest in a large cage.
  • Spiny-tailed iguanas are the fastest moving lizard, with speeds reaching up to 21 miles per hour.
  • They are active during the day and enjoy exposing their body to sunlight to get warm.

Size and color of spiny-tailed iguanas

Size:  Spiny-tailed iguanas need a large cage to be healthy.  Male iguanas will reach up to 1.5 meters, and females will reach up to 1 meter.  Some species of spin-tailed iguana can grow up to 5 feet long.

Color:  Colors of spiny-tailed iguanas can vary.  Adult iguanas have black bands on a greyish or whitish background.  Male iguanas will have orange colors around their neck and throat.  This will usually appear to attract a female iguana.

Spiny Tail Iguana Color

Enclosures for spiny-tailed iguanas

The size of your enclosure depends on the size of your iguana.  They don’t need a long cage, but they do need a large cage to stay healthy.

Small spiny-tailed iguanas under 18 inches need a cage that is 36lx24wx24h.  If they are larger than 18 inches, the minimum size should be 4 feet long by 24 inches wide by 24 inches tall.

Larger species like the black spiny-tailed iguana need a cage that is 6 feet long and 30 inches tall.

Lighting and temperature for spiny-tailed iguanas

Spiny-tailed iguanas love to bask in the sunlight, so their enclosure should contain full-spectrum UV bulbs.  Basking shelves are important to include in their enclosure in order to ensure maximum health.

The temperature in the enclosure should be around 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and should be decreased to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

They also need UVB light to survive in the enclosure.  These iguanas like to spend their time under the sun to get vitamin D3.  If you place a UVB light inside their enclosure, your iguana will stay healthy.

Healthy diets for spiny-tailed iguanas

The spiny-tailed iguana is an omnivorous reptile.  This means that they need nutrition from both plants and insects.  Food for them includes:

  • Mixed greens
  • Shredded carrots
  • Mulberry
  • Hibiscus leaves
  • Purslane
  • Clover
  • Dandelions
  • Greens
  • Flowers
  • Seasonal fruit and vegetables (they love figs)
  • Some insects, particularly crickets about half the size of their head
  • Zoophobas, tomato hornworms, and silkworms

Water misting is one of the best methods of watering.  Baby spiny-tails drink the droplets off the plants in their cage.  It is also a good idea to keep a water bowl inside their cage.


You need to provide your iguana calcium and vitamin supplements.  This will prevent your pet from developing a deficiency.  Calcium powder like Repashy Supercal LoD can be used to powder your pet’s food.

Healthy Spiny Iguana

Spiny-tailed iguana reproduction

Spiny-tailed iguanas mate in the spring.  The male iguana shows his interest by bobbing his head.  He will chase the female iguana until he catches her.

After 8 to 10 months, the female iguana will lay up to 40-55 eggs at a time—the eggs hatch within 90 days.  Mother iguanas do not have maternal behavior.  They simply lay their eggs and leave.

Common diseases that affect spiny-tailed iguanas

Abscesses:  These can be seen by swelling anywhere on the body and are diagnosed and treated by surgical exploration.

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD):  This is the most common disease in iguanas.  The primary reason they develop MBD is poor husbandry, lack of UVB light, and lack of vitamin D3.

Parasites:  Parasites form from the transmission of infective larvae.  The larvae produce more parasite like

  • Nematodes
  • Pinworms
  • Hookworms
  • Cestodes
  • Coccidial agents
  • Protozoan agents

Signs of parasite infestation

  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Abnormal looking stools
  • Blood or mucus in feces
  • Dehydration (can result in wrinkled skin or sunken eyes)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting

You need to consult your veterinarian for medications and guidance in maintaining your pet’s health if you see these signs.

Infectious Stomatitis (Mouth Rot):  This is a bacterial infection seen in iguanas.  It results in swollen gums, production of mucus in the mouth, and jaw swelling.

Final thoughts

Spiny-tailed iguanas are low maintenance, but they are not friendly until they have learned to trust you.  Once they do, they will be your best friend.  Keep them happy and healthy so you can develop a long-lasting friendship with your pet iguana.

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