Can you walk an Iguana on a leash? The quick answer is yes, you can. However, this is not as easy as putting a leash on it and going on a walk. There are special precautions that need to be taken before leashing your iguana.
To make it safe for your iguana to go out on a leash, certain training is necessary, and you need to use the appropriate leash dedicated for iguanas.
There are many things to consider before making the right choice for you, which will be detailed below.
Why should you take your iguana on a walk?
There are many reasons why you should walk your iguana on a leash. One of the most prominent reasons is to bond with them.
You will need to handle your animal when you decide to take them on a walk. This will teach them to be held, which will make it easier for you. Increasing your handling time with them will help strengthen your relationship with that animal.
To walk them, you need to how to recognize their signs of stress. You should not take an iguana that does not get handled regularly and go on a walk. There is no way to know how they will act, which could create a hazardous situation.
If you can take your animal on regular walks, this will encourage the trust between you two. Having trust means that your iguana needs to know you are there to care for them, not cause them any harm.
When your animal trusts you by being handled regularly, you can even train them to sit and ride on your shoulder.
Another reason to walk your iguana would be they will receive more light from outside.
Iguanas need a lot of light to stay healthy. If they do not receive enough light, this could lead to metabolic bone disease.
This disease could lead to physical deformities, behavioral issues, and potentially death.
All animals need regular exercise; an iguana is no different. Walking on the leash is a fun interactive way to exercise your animal.
The level of exercise depends on the personality of your own pet. Some will want to laze around all day, and others will want to keep moving. But hey, a little exercise is always better than no exercise!
Can I use a leash on my iguana?
Some people say it is dangerous.
Walking your iguana on a leash does not come without risks. When searching online, there is a lot of articles that come up saying that it is dangerous.
This can be true. There are plenty of examples and stories of owners not being extremely attentive when taking their iguana for a walk on a leash.
Nonetheless, this does not mean you cannot do it; you just need to be aware of the potential danger and negate them. You will need to know your animals’ behaviors and try to plan for the unexpected.
Is it a must to use a leash?
Walking an iguana on a leash is not the only way to walk them. You could buy an indoor exercise wheel.
The wheel would need to be rather large to accommodate a growing iguana. Another option would be to look into a carpet mill, commonly used to exercise dogs.
Can this risk be managed?
You can potentially ward off many risks with proper planning and execution. There are many ways to manage the risk; all of them involve you being alert when on the road.
You should consistently check in with yourself and ask if this is safe for my iguana. If you start to hesitate, you need to reassess what you are doing and how to make it safe.
Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Whether the benefits outweigh the risk will depend on each situation individually.
When you provide consistent enrichment to your iguana, this helps cultivate a trusting relationship with them. The goal is to provide good care, and walking them on a leash can enhance their care.
If you consistently focus on providing a safe environment for them, then yes, the benefits outweigh the risks.
Prepare for the walk
When preparing to take your iguana on a walk, you must ensure that you have the proper leash. You cannot have a typical collar and leash because it would cause damage to the spikes on their neck.
You will want a harness as opposed to a collar. The type of harnesses that are recommended is made of soft material and cinch together.
The way it cinches leaves room for the spikes to come out the top. You could use this soft leather harness on the arms or legs. There are a few DIY videos of how to make a safe leash for reptiles that would be safe.
Before taking your animal outside, you must get them acclimated to the leash. This should be done preferably in the comfort of your own home.
You should acclimate them in a secure environment in case you need to drop the leash to make them safe. You will want to put the leash on the iguana and place them on the ground.
There needs to be plenty of slack the first time. Iguanas tend to do what is called a death roll when feeling threatened. If there is no slack on the leash, it could injure them easily.
Acclimate the iguana by feeding it food while on the leash and keep them engaged. You should start with 5-minute increments of having the leash on. Don’t rush this process; respect your animal’s preference and look out for any stress signs.
Plan your route
One thing to think about is having a safe route for your animal to walk. A park is a great place to start.
You could also plan a route where you know there is grass along the way. Make sure your iguana can walk on the grass to prevent any cuts to their hands.
Another thing to look out for would be how many stimuli there are on the route. A low stimuli route would be best at the beginning of walking your iguana.
Weather can play a large role in the ability to walk your iguana. They are cold-blooded animals which means they need a warm environment.
They could become extremely ill if exposed to cold weather for an extended period. Any conditions below 78 degrees are too cold to have the iguana outside.
You also want to keep in mind that heat can be something to be mindful of. On a 90-degree day, pavement can get up to 124 degrees and will burn your pet. Avoid these extremes.
Something you will want when taking your iguana out is an emergency plan. If your iguana gets spooked or injured, you must know what to do.
You should consider carrying a small towel with you in case your animal needs to be contained. This way, you can scoop them up and carry them anywhere without them injuring you or themselves further.
Risks to look out for
When an animal gets scared, it is bound to act erratically. One risk with an iguana would be they get startled and take off.
An iguana can run up 21 mph. That definitely is a risk for them to get away from you if you are not taking great care with the leash.
You should have a leash with plenty of slack so that in case this happens, they can run for a little bit and then stop.
Another issue will be if they get injured. You should always have a first aid kit ready in your home or vehicle.
The very basics to have would be iguana-safe antiseptic and wound care. Ask for recommendations from your veterinarian.
When taking your animal on a walk, it is possible they could pick up a parasite. The most likely ones to be picked up would be mites or a tick.
To protect your pet, you should bathe them after any walk to wash off anything that might be sticking to them.
Ingesting something harmful
There are a lot of plants that are poisonous to iguanas. If you think they ingested something poisonous, get them to your veterinarian immediately.
Alternatives to walking your iguana.
Shoulder training is a great way to bond and play with your animal. They may enjoy just riding along instead of walking.
Make them exercise by teaching them to climb up the side of your body to reach your shoulder. Once they reach your shoulder, reward them with their favorite treat.
Another alternative is to ensure that they have plenty of space to climb. This can be done by having a very tall enclosure for them. You can mimic a tree by having branches reach up tall and across.
They should be encouraged to climb from the bottom to the top of the cage for their meal times. This will ensure they are getting a small amount of exercise.
Iguanas are avid swimmers. This could be an amazing way to provide enrichment to your iguana. If possible, you can find a pool, start your iguana in the shallow end, and see how they go. The chlorine in a pool will not hurt them.
Another option would be to use your bathtub. Fill the tub with a few inches of water and let them have a good time.