Do Iguanas Make Good Pets? Alternatives to Iguanas

Green Iguana

Now don’t get me wrong, Iguanas are really cool animals, but you need to know what you’re getting into. They are a lot more specialist compared to something like a bearded dragon. If you have thought about having an Iguana as a pet, there are a few things you definitely need to know.

The first issue with having an iguana as a pet is size. When you first see an iguana they do appear to be a pet that looks fun to have and has plenty of personality (and they do), but what most people don’t realise is how big they get. There are many species of iguana, some bigger than others, but the most common is the green iguana (Iguana iguana). This species can grow up to 2 meters in length. Some other species are known to be smaller but these are harder to find captive bred. Another issue that some people encounter when their iguana has reached adult size is that they can become very territorial. Iguanas will not hesitate to defend their territory when threatened and have been know to attack their owners. Seeing as they are such a large lizard they can do a fair amount of damage.

So, iguanas may not the best choice of pet lizard for you, but don’t worry, I’m about to suggest some alternatives that are much more suitable for the average reptile keeper. If you want a lizard that will reach a fair size, but still stays manageable; read on…

Green Basilisk

Green Basilisk

Green basilisks (Basiliscus plumifrons) are a stunning lizard and very well natured. They aren’t known for being aggressive, but they can be extremely fast. So if you’re up for the challenge of catching them then these would be a nice one to keep. They grow up to a metre in length (most of that is tail) and will develop some amazing crests and sails. They feed predominantly on live insects but will occasionally eat vegetation. They naturally distribution is the jungles of  Mexico to Ecuador so their setup should replicate that as closely as possible.

Water Dragons

Australian Water Dragon

There are two species of water dragon that are commonly kept as pets, the Chinese (or green) water dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) and the Australian water dragon (Physignathus lesueurii)Both Chinese and Australian water dragons grow up to a metre in length, but they have much bulkier bodies than basilisks. They can be very ‘flighty’ as youngsters but calm down as they grow becoming tame. As their name suggests, water dragons like water, so they should have a large water area inside their vivarium. Like iguanas, water dragons are jungle animals and like to climb. Chinese water dragons are native to the forest regions of Asia, the  Australian water dragon is native to eastern Australia.

Chinese/ Green Water Dragon

If you would like to know more about iguanas or the alternatives I have suggested, don’t hesitate to contact the Realm Of Reptiles (Milton Keynes) team on 01908 270084.

You can also post on our Facebook timeline, tweet us at @rormiltonkeynes or email us at

Can you think of any other great alternatives to iguanas? Please let us know in the comments section below.

About Duncan Cooper

Duncan has worked worked with reptiles for 3 years after completing his studies in small animals at Moulton College. He works at our Milton Keynes branch, take a look at their store's Facebook & Twitter.

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One Response to Do Iguanas Make Good Pets? Alternatives to Iguanas

  1. Gary Rolfe August 2, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Frilled dragons are another alternative

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