Keeping a pet iguana is crazy difficult.

The trick is to recreate a large tropical rainforest environment in your home. Not easy in Ohio in the winter.

Iguanamom has struggled all winter trying to maintain humidity in Fio’s wire ferret cage. She set up two humidifiers that steamed day and night but mostly just created a cloud around the cage. Even covering the sides with plastic sheeting didn’t help.

Her next plan was to use a small covered greenhouse with a door that zipped up. Much work was required to iguanify the greenhouse. She wire-tied plastic chicken wire mesh to the sides, hung lights from the roof with mesh wrapping for safety, and filled the interior with driftwood and rope ladders. The hardest part was figuring out how to make the move without traumatizing the lizard. Should we move him at night so that he wakes up in his new cage? Or try and get him to walk in by himself?

The simplest solution was to pop him in his travel box, transfer the last of his furniture, and open the travel box in his new home. I waited while Iguanamom made the transfer – too many eyes make Fio nervous. When I peeked inside the greenhouse, Fio was clambering around the top branches, exploring. He seemed more curious than afraid.

I realized how big he was. Our simulated rain forest is still not the real thing, but is a lot closer to where an iguana should be living. Fio is still very much a skittish wild creature, but at least he has room to move around and he’s not breathing dry winter air.

At some point he will outgrow this cage, too. By then, he should be large enough to hold his own with the “deathcats” and perhaps he can roam free like they do. There is still an issue with humidity and warmth, however.

We recently visited a reptile show and were disturbed to see an aquarium full of baby iguanas for sale. They were $25 each. Were they “throw-away” pets? Even if they were loved, would their new owners have any idea what they were getting into, or the means to care for them properly?

There seems to be a disconnect between the cuteness of an animal, and the reality of providing for it in a human house. Dogs and cats have made the transition with flying colors, and there are lots of other creatures that get along with us reasonably well. But an iguana? A terrarium in a bedroom is not going to work when that 8 inch lizard grows up.