The red iguana is a variation of the common green iguana.
The red iguana is a member of the Iguadnidae family that has seen a huge gain in popularity due to its unique red hue. What many people don’t realize is that the red iguana is a variation of the common green iguana. The red color is the result of a selective breeding process focused on the manipulation of the color gene. Coloration can range from a faint red or orange hue to a deep red, all with black streaks or shadows that tend to darken on the tail. The underside of the red iguana will normally have some green streaks, although the amount can vary from a few small dots to an entirely green lower half.
Both the green and red iguanas can get quite large, which can be a factor for anyone considering a pet. Some of the larger species can grow to an impressive 7 feet (2 m) and weigh nearly 18 pounds (8 kg). Males of the species tend to grow larger than females and can usually be identified by a larger dewlap and dorsal crest. Males also have a bulge behind the vent, which contains the reproductive organs.
Both male and female iguanas have a row of spines that starts at the base of the skull and ends at the tip of the tail. An iguana’s body is narrow, long, and covered in soft scales. They also have five long fingers with relatively sharp claws to help them climb in their natural habitat.
Another characteristic of iguanas is the row of sharp teeth, which they use to feed on a varied diet consisting of leaves and flowers. Although an adult iguana’s diet is primarily herbivorous, juvenile iguanas can eat insects as their main source of nutrition. Part of an iguana’s hydration comes from drinking water collected in the leaves, but the main source of water intake is through the food it ingests.
While the red iguana is a phenomenon found in captive breeding programs, the common green iguana is native to South and Central America. Green iguanas prefer areas that have trees and a water source and are often seen along rivers and swamps. In their natural habitat, these iguanas are a social species that tend to live in a group environment. Males tend to be territorial and can be found fighting for key basking points.
In captivity, green and red iguanas are generally easy to keep; they, however, require some imitation of their natural environment. Since iguanas enjoy both direct sunlight and the shade that treetops provide, your cage should be set up with lights on one side only. The enclosure temperature must be regulated by UVA and UBV producing heat lights, while humidity levels can be achieved through a water source and regularly misting the iguana by hand.