I bet you know that iguanas require a heat source in their environments, but do iguanas need heat lamps?
Do they need the lamp on all the time? Even through the night?
These are the questions I get asked in my job all the time, I will cover everything you need to consider below.
Do Iguanas Need Heat Lamps?
Yes Iguanas do require a heat lamp as this is a very important factor in keeping them healthy. A heat lamp will provide an iguana vitamin D which will also help with processing calcium.
Without vitamin d and calcium an iguana will have a weak immune system and is more vulnerable to becoming ill.
Further still they will not be able to process the food that they eat.
Different Types Of Heat Lamps
Did you know the style of heat lamp is more important than watts that the bulb produces? There are many different types of bulbs which will be used for different situations which I will list below.
In the pictures below I have taken a picture of an iguana cage I have at my work and I have drawn on where the bulb will project the heat to.
1. Tight Beam Lamp
A tight beam lamp will project the heat in to a small area on the floor of the enclosure.
This lamp is also known as “Basking Spot Lamp” this lamp will be able to penetrate large spaces, which means you can put this lamp on the top of the enclosure and it will provide the heat needed on the floor.
These lamps will typically use between 100 watts and 150 watts of electricity, Some of these bulbs can also be combines with a night glow bulb which means the light can be on 24/7.
For a tight beam lamp I recommend to buy a Zoo Med Basking Spot Bulb (Available on amazon)
2. Flood Lamp
A flood lamp will spread the heat across a wider area which is ideal if you have a tree, branches or anything the iguana will climb on.
Be aware that this lamp will need to be placed nearer to the area compared to a spot light.
A flood lamp will use between 50 watts and 75 watts of electricity.
For a flood lamp I recommend Zilla Incandescent Heat Bulb (Available on amazon) These bulbs look similar to a spot light so make sure you do not get them confused.
3. Incandescent Lamp
An incandescent lamp has no reflector built in to it which means that it does not direct the heat so it comes out in all directions as shown below.
This lamp is used to simply heat an area in the enclosure, it is not a hot spot like the spot or flood lamps. It is used to raise the ambient warmth in the tank.
This lamp does not produce enough heat that your iguana will need. You may see them staring at you in confusion or discomfort. More on staring iguanas can be found here.
4. Infrared Lamp
An Infrared lamp is the same as the flood lamp apart from an infrared lamp can be used through out the night and it will not disturb your iguana.
What Distance From the Bulb to The Iguana is Ideal?
The distance you need to place the bulb will be different with every bulb. Below is what is recommended
- Tight Beam Lamp : 10-20 Inches
- Flood Lamp : 10-15 Inches
- Incandescent Lamp : 5-10 Inches
- Infrared Lamp : 10-15 Inches
These are averages and can typically change depending on which bulb you purchase. For example a 50 watt bulb will need to be placed closer than a 100 watt bulb.
To find out the distance you need to place the bulb I usually place a thermometer on the spot we want to head and monitor what the temperature is. I will cover the ideal temperatures below.
Iguana Heat Lamp Requirements
Now we know about the types of bulbs that you need we now need to consider the following requirements:
An iguana will need a temperature of around 90f in their basking spot (Near the lamp) The rest of the enclosure should have an ambient temperature of around 80f.
If possible you should also have cooler spots in the enclosure that the iguana can escape to in case they over heat and just want to cool down. If an iguana gets to hot they could suffer with stress.
Iguanas require UVA and UVB light to live a healthy life. In the wild they will spend most of the day absorbing uv light which helps to produce vitamin D which in turn will enable the iguana to absorb calcium from the food that they require.
Ideally an iguana will need UVA and UVB but they can live a healthy life with one or the other.
UVA Light : Helps with an iguanas digestive system, produce energy for them.
UVB Light : Helps to produce vitamin D which will then help to process calcium
An iguana requires a humidity level of between 70% – 80% in their enclosure. Baby iguanas will require around 80%.
Iguanas require high humidity to help them fight against diseases and it will help them when they need to shed.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How Long Can An Iguana Live Without Heat?
An iguana can go without heat for up to 3 days, they are cold blooded animals and require heat to help regulate their body temperature.
If they don’t have access to heat they will become ill and will suffer with shock. You may notice color changes as well. More information on this can be found here.
2. Can I Use A Regular Light Bulb For My Iguana?
Yes you can use a regular light bulb as a heat source for your iguana, but it should be an additional source because it doesn’t contain UV which an iguana will need.
3. Why is Humidity Important for Iguanas?
Humidity is important for iguanas as it helps them when they are shedding and it helps them from getting diseases.
The humidity should be kept at around 70% in there tank.
4.What Happens When U Don’t Put UV Light On Iguana?
This will prevent your iguana from absorbing Vitamin D and processing calcium from food. Over time your iguana will become ill as they are not getting all the requirements they need to maintain a healthy living.
Placing them in direct sunlight is not recommended because you can not guarantee the amount of direct sun they will get a day. If you keep them in a glass tank the glass will also filter out the UV that they need.
5. Do Iguanas Need A Heat Lamp On All The Time?
No, Iguanas do not need heat all of the time, they might need a heat source if the temperature drops a lot overnight. Too much heat can lad to stress, depression or worse.
A depressed iguana is something you should know about and I’ve got an article to show you about it here.
I recommend to keep a thermometer in the tank and monitor the temperature through out the day and night.
6. Is a Heat Lamp at Night Needed?
No, a heat lamp is only needed if the ambient temperature drops below 50f during the night.
If the temperature drops below 50f for a long period of time the iguana will become lethargic, if the temperature drops even more the iguana could go in to a stunned state.
6. Do Baby Iguanas Require Constant Heat?
Yes, it is recommended to give baby iguanas access to a heat source until they reach 3-6 months of age.
You have to remember that iguanas are tropical animals and we need to replicate their environment best we can.
I recommend to keep baby iguanas in a separate tank until they grow to 20 inches in size.
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