Keeping/Breeding.

 Breeding


Health problems



Cage:

Fiji iguanas do best as single or in pairs. Fiji iguanas normally grow to a total length of about 70-80cm, the tail make up for 2/3 of the lengh.


The cages i use measures 90x125x135cm ( WxDxH). The cages are made so the iguanas have a big active surface( the active surface is the total amount of space the iguanas can physical use), It can be the bottom of the cage or the branches.

To max out the active surface area, the cages are made with thin branches on the walls which give the iguanas the possibility to use all the walls to climb on. Branches are added in different sizes and angles all over the cages, and all have rough bark. A fake Weeping fig/Ficus tree is also added in all cages to give the iguanas a place to hide if they feel like it. Its hard to keep  live plants in the iguana cages because the iguanas either destroy them because the climb in them or they simply eat them. All in all this gives the iguanas a total active surface of about 5,2 square meters.

It is more important to have a big active surface then a big cage, since a big cage don't automatic mean alot of surface for the iguanas to use( This have been seen alot of green iguana, iguana iguana cages where the iguanas has less active surface then then these fiji iguana cages).


Baby cages can be made from big plastic boxes(124L), the substrate in these boxes is bio active just like the adult cages. The basking spots in these boxes are solar raptor 35w spot bulbs. The main light is made with 6w led tube light.


The bottom of these cages are made with 4mm plastic sheets. This way makes sure no water will leak from the substrate and that the iguanas can't destroy the bottom when they dig to lay their eggs.


Substrate:

Bio active substrate can be used in adult and baby cages. The bio substrate is made of 50% forest floor and 50% compost. All the bugs that live in these two types of substrate are added to the cages, which mean that we have alot of different types of bugs in the substrate. In the substrate there are bugs like woodlice, springtails, earwigs, centipedes, milipedes and a few snails.

The plan is to add a few Lepidodactylus lugubris later on to control the amount of bugs and to kill the crickets that get into the cages sometimes( the once that ecape the monitor lizards and find a way out of there cages).

the dept of the substrate is only about 15cm, it is deep enough for the females to lay there eggs( they normally dig under a branch or a log in the cage).


Check the substrate once a week to see if water need to be added. Try to keep different levels of humidity in different areas of the substrate so that when the females are ready to lay eggs, they can choose what level of humidity is perfect for them.

Same go for substrate temp. The temp insubstrate should be around 22-28c depending on where in the cage. This is achieved from the monitor lizard cages that I have below the iguana cages. The area where the monitor lizards have there basking spots, is the hottest area in the substrate in the iguana cages.

This temp difference is not a problem the the bugs and microbes that live in the substrate.


Light/heat:

All my cages has LED lights as main light. I use 2x14w for each cage, the color is 4200 kelvin which is a neutral white. Each light put out 1550 lumen.

As basking spots I use Solar Raptor HID 35w flood bulbs, they give a wider beam then a normal spot bulb, this way the iguanas can have there whole body under the light(without the tail), I use the 35w because I dont need the basking bulb to heat the cages, it only has to create a basking spot. My basking spots are around 40-45c(temp is measured on the back of the iguana)


all my iguanas are in the same room as my central heater for my house and it give enough heat into the room together with the cages to create a day temp of 28c. At night the temp drop to about 23c during summer, in winter the night temp drop to about 20c.

The main lights are turned on for 12.5 hours a day. Basking lights turn on 1 hour later then the main lights and turn off 2 hours before the main light. That way it create a “evning” and the iguanas will find there prefered sleeping areas.


Humidity:

As for the humidity, I use a mist system from ENT terrarientechnik. One sprayhead in each cage, and they mist every 12 hours for 15 sec. this together with the bio substrate make it possible to have a constant humidity around 75-80%.

Another nice thing about this mist system is that it can run dry without the pump  take any damage. they spray heads can be taken apart to be cleaned.


Usable surface area:

This is a part of the iguana keeping that alot of people miss out on. We often hear that the cages should be of a certain size, but that will not do much on its own. In the wild the males often have a tree or two as their territory, ofcourse we can’t give them that in our cages, but we can max out the space they can use inside the cage.

The wall’s are a area that is often overlooked. You can see on the pic how i have done in my cages to max out the usable surface. The branches are attached to the wall by two vertical branches that are screwed in with one screw in top and one in the bottom, that way it is easy to change the branches later on if needed.

As for the logs and branches used for climbing and resting, people often only add a few, again it don’t give much usable surface, think of how dense a tree top can be, and just add alot. Always place some branches horizontal high in the cage to give a few nice resting areas. It is almost impossible to add too many branches. I always add so many branches so that the iguanas can easy reach the next branch, again many branches add to the usable surface.

The cage on the photo has a usable surface area that is around 5,3 square meters, ofcourse more is always better, but at around 5 square meter usable surface the iguanas have enough space to be able to move away from each other and enough space to be able to really move around


Breeding:


When fiji iguana males start thier courtship they often start off by following the female around the cage, licking her tail. And they will do the characteristic head bobbing that you also see in the common green iguana.( you can watch the short video where you can see the male trying to impress the female with his head bobbing).
If the female is not willing to mate with the male, she will often turn dark green in color, as a sign that she is not ready.
When the the fiji iguana males courtship has been approved by the female, he will be able to start the mating process.
As other reptiles the fiji iguana male has what is called hemipenes ( they have a hemipenis on each side of thier tailbase).
For the male to be able to breed with the female he need to be able to position himself correctly, more or less on top of the female. For the male to be able to get to that position he will bite the females neck and hold onto her that way. And since they are equipped with two breeding organs, it is not important to the male what side his tail is on. After he has a good grip and are in position he will work his tailbase more or less under the females tailbase so that it is possible for them to begin the act of mating itself.
The time frame of the mating part itself vary alot, sometimes its just a few minutes while other times it can be more then 20 minutes. The mating normally takes part over several days, while the female is receptive of the male.

Af the fimale has become gravid, and the short mating period is over, it will take about 4 weeks before the female will lay her eggs. Often the female will start to test dig in the search of a good nest site, up to a week before she will lay the eggs.
After she has been doing the test digging and have found a good spot for the eggs, she will dig out a nest. They will often dig out the nest under a log or piece of cork, and the nest site can be anything from 5-10 cm deep to more then 20cm, depending on moisture and soil temperature.
We have discovered together with a good friend( from comparing tests) that the females seem to prefer soil temperatures around 24.5-26c if given a choice ( thats one reason why we have different soil temps throughout our cages and different levels of humidity).
The clutch size is normally 2-5 eggs, and the females can lay eggs up to 3-4 times a year. It is very individual how many times a year a female will lay eggs, as some will do the 3-4 times a year while others will only do 1 time a year.
After the female is done laying her eggs she will carefully move them into position and start to cover up the nest. She will use her front legs and her head to push the soil back into the nest hole ( see the video for my good friends at KC exotics, about a female covering the nest site. follow this link :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwQ7oWh1AMY ). and to press it so that it is packed nicely. Some females are so good at it, that it can be hard to see where the nest site is.

The incubation.


The incubation of the eggs is pretty straight forward. Fiji iguana eggs are pretty robust compared to some other lizard species, and can handle a bigger range of moisture for incubation then spices like dwarf monitors.
The incubation boxes, are made from clear plastic boxes with an upwards curving lid. In the lid 3-6 holes a cut with a diameter of about 10mm.
As incubation substrate, vermiculite works very well. The vermiculite is mixed with water 1:1 by weight, but since fiji iguana eggs are not so sensitive to moisture you can do 1:1.2 vermiculite to water if you are scared it will dry out during the incubation.
A layer of about 5cm thick mixed vermiculite is added to the incubation box, and the eggs are placed half buried into the vermiculite.
Before closing the incubation box a piece of plastic wrap is added over the box. Then the lid is placed onto the incubation box.
The plastic wrap acts as a barrier for the moisture, as moisture cant get through it, but the air particles is not blocked by it.
We normally incubate fiji iguana eggs at 27-28c, but they can handle incubation Temps that are a bit lower, at least as low as 23c. and up to 29-30c. The temperature do not seem to affect the what sex the babies turn out to be, like we see with crocodiles.
The incubation period can be anywhere from 125-198 days. The eggs will increase slightly during the incubation period.
When its time for the babies to hatch you will sometimes see that the eggs start to dent, its a clear sign that the hatching will start shortly. If you start seeing water drops form on your eggs, it means your incubation was too wet and the babies are trying to get rid of excess moisture. If they can't get rid of the excess moisture, the babies will drown inside the eggs. Often they are able to get the excess moisture out of the eggs, and healthy babies will hatch, but it should serve as a reminder for the next time you incubate, to keep it slightly dryer. 

 



As for the incubator itself, it is simply made from a poly box, 3 heat mats, thermostat , metal grill, cricket box and a thermometer.


you can see on the photos how simple it is made, but ill do a quick run through.


the incubator itself is a 50L styrofoam box. On the inside of the lid on the styrofoam box, there is added 2x7w heat mats, and in the bottom of the box there is 1x14w heat mat. In every cornor on the bottom of the styrofoam box there is added a cricket box without a lid. On top of those cricket boxes is where the metal grill is placed ( you place your egg boxes on the metal grill ).

 Then the thermostat and thermometer sensors are placed on top of the egg boxes ( make a small cut in the top of one side of the styrofoam box so you can get the sensor cables into the styrofoam box).


Then you are basiclly ready to incubate fijian iguana eggs.


Raising the babies:

After an incubation period of 125-198 days the babies will start to hatch. Normally the babies will hatch over a period of a few days. Like other reptiles they are born with an egg tooth, that they use to cut open the egg.

Since most females are pure green, some with a little blue and males have blue bands, its easy to see the sex of the babies the minute they hatch.

Babies should be left inside the incubator for a day or two after they have hatched, to give them a chance to absorb any left over egg yolk.

 

Baby raising cages are ready before the babies hatch, to make sure that the temperature and humidity are correct. Temperature in the baby cages are 28-30c with a basking spot at around 38c. The humidity in the cages are around 75-80%.

As basking spots they have a normal halogen bulb. 18-20w bulbs are used since it baby cages, and our breeding room already hold the temperature the babies need.

As main light in the baby cages i use a 9w LED strip light, the color are the same as for the adults(4200k).

As for the UV light in the baby cages they have a 15w t8 6% UV tube that is on all day.

The baby cages are made out of some 124L plastic boxes, or same size cages. The boxes have ventilation like a normal cage and have a "sliding door" in the front so you can open it easy without making the babies scared(The often go to flight mode if you try to open from the top).

A good amount of small branches is added. Fake plants are added to give the babies hiding places, and they can drink water drops from the leaves when the cage have been sprayed. The baby cages have bio substrate.

At the moment i dont have a mist system set up for the baby cages so i use a normal 5L spray bottle. The baby cages are sprayed 2-3 times a day depending on humidity.

I normally raise the babies together for the first 6 month to a year.


Feeding.

The babies normally start eating after 1-2 weeks, some are quick to start eating while others can take rather long time. Its important to just let the babies be alone and not try to force them to eat. The food for the babies is the same as it is for the adults. 


A common misconception with fiji iguana babies is that they are omnivores, so many breeders offer them insects.

 Studies of wild fiji iguanas has shown that they are strictly herbevores. That mean that they do not eat any types of insects and breeders and keepers should try to follow the way these iguanas eat in the wild.



Health problems:


There are many things that can happen when keeping fijian iguanas in captivity. I will try and list the once i find relevant.


MBD( metabolic bone disease ).


The most common cause of mbd is from a imbalance in the levels of calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D in their bodies.

The symptoms are often: Limping. Bowed legs. Hard lumps along the legs, spinal column, or jaw.

Softening and unusual flexibility of the lower jaw. Difficulty raising the body off the ground

Decreased appetite.


If caught and identified in the early stages, mbd is easy to treat. It can be treated with the use of a calcium/mineral mix( with vitamin D) that is mixed in water and given oral to the iguana. For a adult fiji iguana you will treat it for 3-4 days 2-3 times a day. For each treatment you will give the iguana about 0,5-1ml. The mix should look like whip cream before whipping it. This treatmet together with a quallity uv source, normally cure the mbd within those 3-4 days.

egg binding.


This is common in female fijian iguanas( its not a problem i personally have ever seen with my own iguanas).

Reasons for egg binding can be :

An anatomical defect in the female causing an obstructive dystocia, which makes it physically impossible for the egg to pass

An overly large or malformed egg, or one that is not positioned correctly, is broken, or joined to other eggs (fractured)

Poor condition of the mother (e.g., inactivity can lead to poor muscle tone and the inability to produce strong, repeated contractions). A female may become exhausted before she completes laying of all the eggs

Lack of or improper nesting site.

Improper temperature or incorrect temperature cycling, improper humidity, and/or incorrect lighting or photoperiod

Malnutrition, especially if resulting in hypocalcemia (low blood levels of calcium). Obesity may also be a cause of egg binding.

Dehydration.

Stress, such as overcrowding or too small of an enclosure.

Hormonal or disease conditions such as infections of the reproductive organs, dehydration, or kidney disease (kidneys may become enlarged and partially block the pelvic area.)

Breeding animals that are too young or too old, ill, or not in good condition. Excessive breeding of the same animal may also result in dystocia.



Dehydration.


Dehydration is a common problem. If they lose to much water there organs can shut down and death can occur.

This is why it is important to make sure the iguanas stay hydrated all the time. Correct hymidity and a mist system(not a fogger) is a good way to make sure the iguanas stay hydrated. Also the food offered can help the iguanas to stay hydrated, items like iceberg lettuce, cucumber and water melon are good sources of water.

These food items should not be used as a big part of the feeding.


Wounds.


Wounds sometime occurs when fijian iguanas are kept as pairs( specially in mating attempts). Females can often get wounds on the front legs or in there neck from the mating attempts, these can be flesh wounds. it is important to keep an eye on the wounds to make sure they dont get infected.

If there are signs of infection, You can use a normal desinfection cream( same as you use for other reptiles. there are different brands depending on where you live).

In cases of more serious infections contact a vet.

Shedding problms.


The most common reason for shedding problems is too low humidity. Humidity should stay around 70-80%. Sometimes the humidity is not enough, so it can be helpt with a spray bottle. Spray the iguana carefully to soak the skin it has problem shedding. I'm not a fan of giving them a bath, since it often stress them, so the spray bottle is in my opinion a better solution.