Setting up basking areas for free-roaming iguanas
There's more to it than just letting them run loose in your home...
©1995, 2002 Melissa Kaplan
To enable a free roaming iguana to attain the basking temperatures it needs to effect digestion, we must provide basking/sunning (with real sun or artificial sun in the form of proper UVB lighting) areas outside of the enclosure for the iguana to use when they are not enclosed. This can be accomplished by setting up a shelf or table somewhere they like or will like to be - such as where they can look out of a window - and outfit it with a people heating pad, basking light and Vitalite-type light (see below for full description of a free setup). The ig will spend 90% of its time there once it is done getting through the initial explore-and-topple-everything-and-hide-from-large-bipedal-carbon-unit-phase. If you are going to have an enclosure wherein you expect it to spend any time, you will need it to be primarily solid to ensure that the heat stays in - otherwise the equipment will work very hard and ineffectively trying to heat up the entire apartment, room or house.
In my house, the iguana areas are:
The Iguana Room
I actually do not run my central heating much at all - only for me in the mornings for an hour or so to take the damp chill off during the rainy cold season. I also use a space heater in the den if I need it - that's where I spend most of my time.
If you are concerned about the impact of your new friends on you power bill, call your power company and ask if they can do a rate analysis to see if there is a better rate structure you might be able to use. Right now you are paying the same amount per kilowatt hour during the summer or winter (you may be paying more during peak hours, but seasonally there is probably no change). There may be a structure wherein you pay more during the summer (when you will be using it less) and less during the winter (when you will be using more) that you can change to - I did, and it cut my annual bill by about $500. A friend of mine finally got it done and by switching she will be saving about $200 a year over what she used to pay.
up a basking/perching area for free roaming igs
Screw the housing for the Vitalite into the wall or ceiling above it so that the light will be no farther than 18" (preferably no more than 12-15") from the ig. Also mount a light fixture to the wall - you can get them already wired by buying a Gro-light kit and using that (discard the bulb, however, unless you want to use it for daytime heating - it does NOT produce the wavelengths necessary for the creation of vitamin D and calcium metabolism). Basically you want to make this fixture as solid as possible so that the iguana doesn't knock it over - Murphy's law will prevail and instead of bulb breaking if it falls, it will land bulb down and start a fire! ;)
Put a people heating pad on the shelf. This means that you need at least three available electrical outlets; it is worth having an electrician come in and install a double-gang outlet dedicated for this purpose. Remember that you want to be able to plug the fluorescent fixture into a timer so leave yourself access to the outlet for seasonal changes.
For access, igs can climb up and down vertical surfaces so you do not need to come out into the room. You can create a climber by crisscrossing 1/4-1/2" sisal rope around 1x1s, using an electric stapler to secure. Or you can cover a 12" wide board with coarse burlap or sisal rope (some artificial carpets are too slick for this), or scrap carpet (human kind). The 1x1s or board can be affixed to the underside of the shelf using L-brackets.
You can cover the shelf with linoleum for easier cleaning and disinfecting. The pad can be covered with a terry towel, also easy to clean.
Make your iguana come down for pooping and eating - one of the big reasons for free-roaming is for the ig to get plenty of exercise, so don't deprive him or her of it by putting their food bowl up where they are already spending most of their time!
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