Iguanas are reptiles that are increasingly found in homes as pets. Like any animal that is not completely accustomed to the company of the human being it is better that they live in freedom, but nowadays they are raised in captivity and these are the ones that can be welcomed as pets. It is really necessary that you meet the optimal conditions to have an iguana at home, because if you can not offer adequate environment, space, humidity, temperature, food, etc., in a short time you will get sick and die.
Thus, we must always look for possible changes in their appearance or behavior that may indicate a problem. For example, it is common for dark marks to appear on the scales of these animals and that many people do not know what they are due to. Normally, black spots on iguanas indicate fungi or bacteria, but may be due to more causes. Therefore, in this article of Pet O Club we will reveal the reasons that answer your question about “why my iguana has black spots?”.
Causes of black spots on iguanas
When dark or black spots appear on the skin of an iguana, it is normal for us to be alert, since they usually look green or brown, depending on the specific species of iguana. In addition, as we have mentioned, being delicate animals to live in a terrarium, any change in them can alert us to a possible health problem. It is very frequent that due to lack of natural light, the dirt of the terrarium or the lack of optimal temperature or humidity the animal becomes ill, something that we can avoid if we really know how to care for an iguana. For this reason, it is recommended that we always inform ourselves about them and take constant care of their condition and environment.
Among the main causes of black spots on the skin of iguanas are the following:
There are 8 different genera of this type of reptile, so there are many species that exist throughout the world. For example, the most common is the green iguana, as it is the one usually used as a pet, but there are others such as the black spiny-tailed iguana or the rhinoceros iguana. All of them present some differences, among which we must highlight the color of the scales, since some are more brown or even black and some also present drawings, such as darker stripes. Therefore, make sure the color and the normal pattern of the species of your iguana is before alarming you. In case it is not the usual one, the cause may be one of the following.
Fungi on the skin of iguanas are often seen as dark spots or marks. They can be concentrated in a single part of the body or, they can be more extended if the problem already takes time in the skin of the animal.
The main reasons why fungi can appear in the scales are dirt in the terrarium, especially in water and food, and excess moisture and heat in the environment. Therefore, it is vital to keep the environment very clean, changing the substrate, food and water as much as necessary, and well measure the amount of environmental humidity of the terrarium and adjust it to the needs of the animal.
If you need more moisture you can add more bowls with water or spray water once or twice a day in the terrarium. If it is necessary to reduce the humidity, as it happens in the case of the appearance of fungi, it is necessary to remove the extra water and if possible to increase the temperature and ventilation a little.
Infections by bacteria also cause this appearance in the scaly skin of iguanas. You may be able to see a wound, even a small one, on some part of the animal’s body. The bacteria appear when the animal becomes a wound or scratch which we do not realize in time and becomes infected by being in contact with materials from the terrarium, when the hygiene of the environment is deficient and when there is too much humidity and heat.
It is necessary to improve immediate environmental conditions and disinfect the skin of the animal, with the most appropriate product prescribed by the veterinarian, as well as to medicate orally or by injection with antibiotics, if the specialist considers it necessary.
If the spots are only around the mouth or eyes, or both sides, it is likely to be an infection by mites. They tend to be contagious, through other animals or ourselves when handling them. Only the specialist can diagnose it and recommend treatment.
Other common diseases in iguanas
In addition to the darkened scales, there are more diseases and conditions that these reptiles usually suffer. Next, we explain some of the most common diseases in iguanas:
- Lack of calcium: iguanas raised in a terrarium have a tendency to develop problems in their metabolism that make it difficult for them to properly absorb calcium. The lack of calcium causes, mainly, inflammation in the hind legs and weakness of the bones. You can add a little calcium powder suitable for them and sold in veterinary centers.
- Anorexia: this is the behavior of stopping eating altogether, which indicates that something is not going well in your body or that we do not offer you the right food.
- Parasites: can suffer internal and external parasites. The internal parasites or worms, reduce the desire to eat and are easily detected by observing feces, in which you can see some of these parasites. In contrast, among the external parasites, the most common are the mites that accumulate in the eyes and mouth and to eliminate them you have to use acaricides suitable for these reptiles and prescribed by the veterinarian.
- Burns: the lamps that are usually used in terrariums to give heat and specific light for these animals, as well as the use of thermal blankets to maintain a suitable temperature, sometimes produce burns on the skin of animals. Sometimes they like to get close to the source of heat, or we do not control it well, and when they get too close, they burn, which may be something superficial or deeper. The specialist will recommend the best cure.
- Respiratory infections: Due to excessive humidity, accumulated dirt, sudden changes in temperature and air currents, captive iguanas are prone to respiratory problems. Therefore, we must take care of these vital aspects of their environment. Only a veterinarian can diagnose them and offer the best treatment.
- Problems in the shedding of skin: when they shed their skin, if they have not taken enough calcium and vitamins during the previous months, problems can appear. Also, if they suffer from any infection the skin at the time of the moulting will also have problems to perform well and complete. You may see that there are pieces of skin that do not just peel off or that white spots that start the moult occur, but this does not happen in several days. If so, it increases the humidity of the terrarium and allows a veterinarian to check it.
When to take my iguana to the vet
Seeing that there are various health problems that these reptiles can suffer at home, especially if they are not offered optimal conditions, it is normal to ask when to take them to the veterinarian. So, keep in mind that it is necessary to know when to take the iguana to the veterinarian following these tips:
- For all annual reviews indicated by the veterinarian. If possible, it is best to take it to a reptile specialist veterinarian.
- When you see a clear change in your physical appearance, whether in the skin or scales, eyes, legs, tail, and so on. Whether it is wounds, or changes in the color or shape of any part of the body, it is necessary to go to the veterinarian.
- When you notice changes in your behavior or habitual behavior. For example, if your iguana tends to eat a lot and has stopped eating or if it has always been rather calm and you think it is suddenly aggressive.
- Before any emergency that you detect, like seeing it burned with a lamp from your terrarium, seeing that you get intoxicated by eating something you should not, and so on.
This article is merely informative, in a Pet O Club we do not have the power to prescribe any veterinary treatment or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or discomfort.