West Indian Rock Iguana: Care Sheet, Pictures, Lifespan & More


West Indian Rock Iguanas are actually a group of nine different species of iguanas. Each of these species is found on a specific island in the West Indies. The species most commonly kept as a pet is the Cuban Rock Iguana. While they might make good pets for the experienced owner, the Rock Iguanas require a lot of care and a very specific habitat. If you are interested in learning more about these iguanas, keep reading!

divider- reptile pawQuick Facts About West Indian Rock Iguana

Species Name: Cyclura
Family: Iguanidae
Care Level: High maintenance
Temperature: 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit ambient; 120 degrees Fahrenheit for basking
Temperament: Wild animals; resistant to handling
Color Form: Green, blue, red, brown, grey (varies by species)
Lifespan: 20 years in captivity; 60 or more years in the wild
Size: Varies by species; 2 to 5 feet from nose to end of the tail
Diet: Herbivores; some are opportunistic carnivores
Minimum Enclosure Size: 6’ x 6’ x 6’ for a single iguana
Enclosure Set-Up: Ramps, branches, rocks, secure enclosure
Compatibility: Can live together except in times of aggression

West Indian Rock Iguana Overview

West Indian Rock Iguanas are a group of nine different iguana species found in the West Indies and the Caribbean. These are wild animals and all nine species are currently endangered. While some people do keep them as pets, human interference is the largest contributor to their declining populations in the wild.

The Cuban Rock Iguana is the species most commonly kept as a pet. Of the nine species, it has the largest remaining population. It is thought that efforts by zoological associations and other captive breeding programs may be helping the population of Cuban Rock Iguanas by preventing people from taking them from the wild.

However, unless you are an experienced reptile owner or someone who is working in conservation, you should not have a Rock Iguana as a pet. They are endangered and difficult to care for. Learning more about them is a better way to appreciate these great animals.

West Indian Rock Iguana-PIXABAY copy
Image credit: Pixabay

How Much Do West Indian Rock Iguanas Cost?

It is difficult to find a concrete price range for any species of West Indian Rock Iguanas. Most species are endangered and protected. The Cuban Rock Iguana is the species most often kept as pets, however, if not purchased from a reputable breeding program,  the iguana was likely taken from the wild.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

Rock Iguanas are wild animals and their behavior is unpredictable. If they are frequently handled as babies, they may grow up and be more tolerant of human handling. However, they are unpredictable.

Adult Rock Iguanas are more aggressive than younger iguanas. They have a nasty bite that can sever a finger or toe. You should always wear thick, protective gloves if you are handling a Rock Iguana.

West Indian Rock Iguana-Pixabay
Image credit: Pixabay

Appearance & Varieties

Each species of West Indian Rock Iguanas originates from a specific place and has a distinctive look. These species include the following:

  • Turks and Caicos Rock Iguana – This species is smaller than some of the other Rock Iguanas, reaching only about 30 inches as an adult. They are green to greyish-green and typically have darker markings along their backs.
  • Jamaican Iguana – The Jamaican Iguana is also a smaller species, typically reaching a maximum size of 17 inches. This species is also one of the more critically endangered Rock Iguanas. They are green to blue-colored with darker olive green markings around their shoulders.
  • Rhinoceros Iguana – This species will reach about 4.5 feet when fully grown. They are grey or brown. The male has 3 horns on their head, which is what gave them their name.
  • Northern Bahamian Rock Iguana – These iguanas can range widely in size with adult lengths of 2 to 4 feet. They are brown with pink underbellies and pinkish spots along their backs.
  • Grand Cayman Blue Iguana – These large iguanas will grow to 5 feet from nose to tail. The male can be greyish-blue to bright turquoise. Females are typically olive green or pale blue.
  • Cuban Iguana – This species can also grow to be up to 5 feet long. The males are usually larger than the females. Male Cuban Iguanas are typically grey and brick red, while females are olive green with darker striping. Both sexes have spikes that run along their backs and tails.
  • Anegada Ground Iguana – The adult Anegada Ground Iguana is about 2 feet in length. They are varying shades of grey and have turquoise bands on their spines and legs.
  • Ricord’s Iguana – This species is about 3.5 feet long when fully grown. They are green to greenish-grey in color. Most have dark grey or black markings along their bodies.
  • San Salvador Iguana – The smallest of the Rock Iguanas, this species is only 12 to 15 inches at full size. The males are very colorful with red, blue, yellow, and orange markings. Females tend to be green, brown, or grey.

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How to Take Care of West Indian Rock Iguanas

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Most of the West Indian Rock Iguanas are found in the wild or wildlife conservatories only. For reference here, we are going to use the Cuban Rock Iguana as they are the most commonly found in captivity.

Enclosure

These iguanas need a lot of space to move around. At a minimum, their enclosure needs to be 8’ H x 12’ L x 4’ W. Many require a full room-sized enclosure. Cages are typically used. The enclosure should also include hiding places, ramps, shelves, and branches that the iguana can climb.

West Indian Iguana_ Ondrej_Novotny_92_Shutterstock
Image credit: Ondrej Novontny, Shutterstock

Bedding

Wood shavings or a natural outdoor environment are the best bedding for a Cuban Rock Iguana. If they are kept in a warm climate, they should have access to an outdoor enclosure as this is much preferred over an indoor one. Sand and mulch are good outdoor bedding options.

Lighting

Cuban Rock Iguanas need access to natural sunlight, which is another reason keeping them outdoors at least some of the time is ideal. If not kept outdoors, they will need a UVA and UVB light.

Temperature

The ideal temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The basking spot should be kept at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. There should also be a place for the iguana to retreat and hide or sleep. Typically this is a wooden box with a door cut into the side for them to enter and exit.

West Indian Rock Iguana_ islavicek_Shutterstock copy
Image credit: islavicek, Shutterstock

Do West Indian Rock Iguanas Get Along with Other Pets?

West Indian Rock Iguanas are wild animals and should not be kept around other pets. They are herbivores so while they will not usually eat smaller animals, they will bite. These species of iguanas can be kept together but will need a separate enclosure during mating times or other periods of aggression, especially once they reach adulthood.

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What to Feed Your West Indian Rock Iguana

All species of West Indian Rock Iguanas are primarily herbivores, although they have been known to eat insects or small rodents if needed. They like to feed on leafy greens, fruits, flower buds, and vegetables. In captivity, they should not be fed insects or rodents frequently as too much protein can damage their kidneys. Most adult Rock Iguanas should eat about 3 to 4 times each week.

Keeping Your West Indian Rock Iguana Healthy

The best way to keep West Indian Rock Iguanas healthy is to protect their environment in the wild. In captivity, they live far shorter lives than they do in the wild. Access to an outdoor environment, clean enclosures, healthy diets, and proper temperature and lighting are the best ways to keep iguanas healthy in captivity. Any signs of poor health such as lethargy, lack of appetite, or discoloration should be checked by an exotic animal veterinarian.

West Indian Rock Iguana_ Martin Vorel_Shutterstock
Image credit: Martin Vorel, Shutterstock

Breeding

The age at which Rock Iguanas become sexually mature varies anywhere between 2 and 7 years of age. The mating season is typically in May or June. The female lays anywhere from 2 to 34 eggs, depending on the species. All species have an egg incubation period of approximately 85 days.

divider- reptile pawAre West Indian Rock Iguanas Suitable For You?

Unless you are a wildlife conservationist or someone who works with reptiles, then a West Indian Rock Iguana is probably not a good pet choice for you. These beautiful animals are rapidly declining in the wild due to human interference. Keeping them as pets does not help protect them as they are often taken from the wild to be kept in captivity. Instead, it is best to learn about them and how best to protect them in their natural habitat.


Featured Image Credit: islavicek, Shutterstock



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