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Iguana Injuries

Thermal Injuries: Serious burns often result when iguanas contact unprotected heat sources within their enclosures. Exposed light bulbs and heat lamps are most often responsible for these accidents. Neither of these appliances is actually necessary. If they are installed in an iguana's enclosure, they must be outfitted with a protective device to prevent burns.

Nose Abrasions: One of the unfortunate consequences of captivity is injury resulting from repeated attempts to escape. Iguanas tend to push and rub their noses against the walls of their enclosures as they repeatedly pace back and forth. This constant trauma results in chronic ulceration of the nose ( rostrum), whether the walls of the enclosure are made of glass or wire mesh. Most injuries may result in serious and often permanent deformities that may cause long-term problems. Preventing this problem is difficult, but providing adequate visual security (hiding places) and other additions to the enclosure (artificial plants, branches, rocks) helps to minimize it. A visual barrier of dark paint or plastic film placed on or along the lower 4 inches of the enclosure's walls often inhibits pacing and rubbing.

Broken Tail: Though iguanas do not easily shed their tails like some other lizard species, tail fractures, dislocations and other serious injuries may occur. Care must be taken to firmly restrain the tall when an iguana is picked up and held. A veterinarian can treat soft tissue injuries according to their severity, and can "set" and splint the fractured tail if necessary.

Broken Toes: An iguana's toes are very vulnerable to injury, especially when iguanas are housed in screened or wire enclosures. It is very easy for toes and/or claws to become entrapped within the wire mesh, resulting in fractures, dislocations, torn claws (with subsequent bleeding), and injuries to the skin and scales of the toes. These injuries often occur during attempts to remove a panicked iguana from its enclosure. Great care should be taken when overcoming the animal's grip on the wire mesh. Twisting of the iguana's body against this steadfast grip often causes serious injuries to the feet and toes. A veterinarian should be consulted at once if such injuries occur.