More than ten years ago, the demand for pet iguanas in the United States boomed so much that over a million iguanas were imported into the country.
Most of the pet lizards that were being sold in pet stores during this time came from Central America and South America; we’re talking about really faraway countries, like Ecuador and Peru.
You can already imagine the cramped conditions that wild-caught captive iguanas had to endure on the way to the United States.
Today, the method of handling hasn’t changed much; what you are seeing in pet stores nowadays are essentially tired, wild reptiles that yearn for the wide, arboreal landscapes of their native lands.
I’m not saying that you should not purchase one, but with these facts in mind you should really be prepared to invest in your new pet, because these creatures were actually taken away from their native habitats to become companion animals to humans.
You might be wondering right now: are all iguanas imported from other countries? There is still a large volume of imports today, but compared to ten years ago, pet stores are now becoming more dependent on local production than import.
It did not take long for people to learn how to breed these lizards; iguana farms actually sprouted not too long after the import of iguanas increased.
While there is definitely a move to “buy local,” I have to warn you that if you are going to buy locally bred green iguanas in order to get a healthier specimen, you will probably be disappointed, because most large-scale iguana farms rarely take good care of their own specimens.
So, buying a locally bred iguana is not a guarantee that your pet iguana will live longer. Due to the steady destruction of forests in Central America and South America, the species Iguana iguana has long been classified as a threatened species.
Exporters of these reptiles must seek special approval from the authorities before capturing and exporting green iguanas to other countries.
While the exporting of these animals is regulated in some countries, it is absolutely legal to purchase a specimen once the animal has been legally imported.
So, you don’t have to worry about buying a green iguana – it’s legal; I only ask that you buy one only if you are really passionate about reptiles, and you are willing to go the extra mile for the animal to keep it alive.
Because once a green iguana has been removed from its former habitat, it will still has some very specific requirements, and these needs will not change even if the environment has completely changed. If these needs are not met, it’s not hard to imagine what happens next.