Most small animals- reptiles, amphibians, and rodents- require one cage. This cage is often small enough to fit on top of a counter, computer desk, or coffee table. Will an Iguana's home be able to fit comfortably into a space like this? No!! Iguanas are different from little frogs, newts, and hamsters because they grow at an insane rate during the first few years (in one year, we have seen Iggy grow about 25 inches!) and eventually reach up to 6 feet! If you are thinking of purchasing an Iguana, expect to devote either an entire room or area of a room to an enclosure that is 6 ft high, 6 ft wide and 3 ft deep.
Even with Iggy's enclosure now, she will outgrow it. It cost me about $250 to make. My long term goal is to have her free roaming, which will save me money and most likely keep her happier.
If you're lucky you have someone you know, or yourself, who can build the perfect set up. This should cost under $500.00 and if you know what you're doing maybe less than $300.00. These numbers may seem high but if you've ever researched the ready made fancy enclosures those babies run into the $1000s. You will also need to buy water based sealant if you are using wood, as well as paint and decorations. Iguanas can see all sorts of colors and enjoy being in a homey-green-leafy environment. I spent around $50.00 in terrarium background, hide box, tub, plates, and silk leaves.
What else do you have to consider when buying an Iguana? Vet costs. If you purchase a hatchling, it's a good idea to bring them to the vet for a check-up. Any parasites, like worms or mites, can be taken care of quite easily. Any possible signs of Metabolic Bone Disease will be checked out. You must make sure your vet sees Iguanas and if they don't, you should be prepared to drive 1-3 hours to find one who does! A vet visit without medicine or anything involved will run you about $80.00-$100.00. If you have a more serious problem, which can and does happen with Iguanas (example: burn, broken toe, fungal infection), you will be looking at the cost of the visit plus any medicine, length of stay or in extreme cases, operations. Anything that's involved in long term problems, can easily run you $500 into the thousands. If you have a female Iguana who becomes gravid, with developing eggs, many problems can arise and you should be prepared financially (and emotionally) to deal with it.
One of my many bulbs- this one is the Mega Ray. Not only will you need UVB and heat lamps but you will have to buy the domes. For bulbs that reach very high temps, 100F or more, you should purchase a dome with a ceramic socket to avoid fires.
What else, what else, what else....ahh, yes, humidity. How will you keep the humidity up to about 60-80% every day, even in the winter months? In my opinion, a humidifier is necessary. If you purchase a hygrometer ($15.00-$30.00) you can check to see what the humidity is like in your neck of the woods. You may not need one but chances are, you do. I recently purchased one for about $40.00, based on all types of reviews for different models, I am expecting to have to replace this in a years time.
This was a relatively cheap dual hygrometer (measures humidity) and thermometer. It seems to be accurate, too. I will be purchasing a more reliable, better rated hygro/thermometer soon. It's always important to have a few in your Iguana's enclosure so you can keep track of temps on the different levels.
Finally, (I think), how much does it cost to feed your Igg!? This can really vary depending on where you live. Back home in my small New Jersey town, I would spend about $10.00 a week on veggies and fruits. The quality and price was poor, selection was terrible and the collards often rotted after a few days. I spent at least $40.00 a month on Iggy food. Living in Chicago, I have an excellent little market nearby. I can buy collards, mustard greens, squash, green beans, figs and a mango for about $6.00-$7.00. That really makes a difference. But just remember, it is not as easy as picking up a tub of bird seed or 50 crickets for a few bucks. You also have to invest a lot of time into cleaning the veggies, cutting up into smaller pieces and storing them so they don't go bad or lose their nutritional value.
So, you need to ask yourself, are you ready to spend hundreds per year in order to take care of your Iguana? Do you have the time to shop weekly for food, to purchase new light bulbs, schedule vet visits that may be 60 miles away? I love having Iggy here with me. And in reality, yes it is an extra financial burden on my income but I make peanuts at my job and I am still able to give her a really great life. Another thing to consider when purchasing an Iguana is that they can live 15-25 years, if you do it right. So if you are buying the little guy for your son or daughter, are you ready to take over care when they enter their teenage years? If you plan on moving, will you be bringing the Iguana with you? Think looooooooong term when buying an Iguana.
There are many other pets out there, lots of herps (frogs, bearded dragons, geckos) that require financial input and knowledge, but aren't as intensive as Iguanas. I think just the fact that the three I listed don't grow to be more than two feet is already a huge plus.