Why Is My Iguana Trying to Escape?

Are you at the end of your rope after yet another escape or attempted escape by your pet iguana? This is not as unusual as you may think, and a host of ig owners out there would gladly send you their heartfelt sympathies. In fact, iguanas are intelligent reptiles who often exercise their skills in the direction of making a getaway.

So, why is my iguana trying to escape? There could be several reasons for this, the most likely being that your iguana is untamed, and needs to be tamed and socialized. It may also be stressed or bored, or its enclosure may be too small.

Keep reading to discover how you could set about taming your pet iguana so that it no longer tries so hard to escape. We will also discuss some reasons why your ig may be stressed or bored, and then we will take a look at some of the housing requirements which may help to relieve your pet iguana’s feeling for the need to escape.

Trying to Escape Because of Being Untamed

If you have recently become a proud iguana owner, you and your pet are probably still getting to know each other. The way your ig reacts when you approach will tell you whether it is tame or not.

If it thrashes about and tries to get as far away as possible from you, it’s definitely untamed. This can make even the most basic care a huge challenge, not to mention all the ‘search and rescue’ operations.

On the other hand it may well be a tamed iguana, but it is not yet socialized to relate to you as the new owner. Either way, trust needs to be built as you both get used to each other and learn what works and what doesn’t.

If you have an untamed or unsocialized iguana, the best thing would be to set about taming and socializing it. Here are a few pointers in that direction: 

How to Tame Your Pet Iguana

Firstly you need to realize that a lot of patience will be needed, and it’s best not to begin taming training until you have had your iguana for at least two or three weeks. By then you will have been able to set up some kind of routine in which your pet knows when it will be fed or cleaned.

Don’t forget to talk to your iguana by name as you go about the daily routine. This will go a long way towards helping it get used to you, and learning to recognize its own name. Always be gentle and smooth in your tone and actions. When you put your hand into the enclosure, approach from the side, rather than directly above, so your iguana does not feel threatened.

Before you try to take your iguana out of the cage, make sure that you have secured all the exits, and removed any breakables from the room, including those on high shelves as iguanas are very good climbers. Once you pick up and handle your iguana, always support it under the belly and pelvic region.

If it becomes agitated, try to calm it before putting it down – that way it will learn that it needs to be calm before being released, and that unruly behavior is not productive. Remember not to grab your iguana’s tail as they can sometimes shed their tails and then you will be left with the tail end while its owner scurries away.

 As you handle your iguana regularly and gently, you will begin to gain its trust over time. Patience and perseverance will no doubt pay off, and one day you may find that your iguana is no longer trying to escape.

Trying to Escape Because of Being Stressed

Stress is major cause of escapist behavior in iguanas. Basically any kind of change can cause stress. These changes can fall into three broad categories, namely behavioral, social or environmental changes.

Behavioral stress can relate to changes in the daily routine such as if you have a busy week and feed your iguana at different times. Social stress could be if you have visitors of a new pet in the house, and environmental stress relates to factors in the iguanas enclosure such as lighting and temperature.

If your iguana appears stressed and agitated and is trying to escape, do a quick check in these three areas to see what might be causing the stress and then find a way to alleviate the tension and bring some relaxation to your pet.

Trying to Escape Because of Being Bored

Your iguana is intelligent and sensitive, and will get used to a regular routine. If you are gone longer than usual, this may result in your pet becoming bored and looking for another outlet. This may include trashing the enclosure, pulling down the light fixtures or scrabbling at the glass for hours on end.

Even if it doesn’t actually manage to escape, you may come home to mayhem within the terrarium, and a lot of cleaning up to do, and possibly even some injuries to your bored iguana who was attempting to escape.

So try to give your pet ig the time and attention it needs to stay happy and stimulated. Take it out regularly, talk to it softly and gently and it will learn to look forward to your company.

Trying to Escape Because the Enclosure Is Too Small

Another possible reason why your iguana is constantly trying to escape could be because his living space is too restrictive. Let’s take a look at what is needed for your iguana to have sufficient space to live happily.

Housing Requirements of Pet Iguanas

Iguanas originally come from the forests of south and central America, so they are used to climbing trees and resting on branches. So your enclosure would need to have some big branches or shelves and platforms for your ig to climb. They also need somewhere to run and hide if they feel threatened or frightened, such as a cave in the wilds, or just a cardboard box in the terrarium.

As your iguana grows and changes, so will its housing needs. Baby iguanas need to start off with a smaller cage. If you get a very big cage to start off with, they may feel a bit lost and may even struggle to find their food and water. It’s better to start off small and upgrade later on as your pet grows.

One way to measure an adequate size for the tank, is to make sure the length is at least twice as long as the iguana and the width is at least the same as the iguana’s length. This way your ig can stand sideways without twisting it’s body.

Once your iguana reaches adulthood, it will need an enclosure of at least 3,7m x 1,8m x 1,8m (12 feet x 6 feet x 6 feet). This often needs to be custom made as most commercially available cages are not adequate for adult iguanas.

The top especially should be made from sturdy metal mesh which is escape proof, and will be able to support the light fittings needed to give your iguana the heat and UVB lighting it needs.

It may be tempting to let your pet iguana roam free in your house, but this is not always ideal for several reasons. This method sometimes makes it harder to tame your pet. It can also mean that the iguana will not get sufficient UVB light and heat if it is skulking around the house rather than basking in its enclosure.

Indoor enclosures need to be kept clean and hygienic. The floor should be cleaned every day to remove any uneaten food, feces and soiled substrate. A thorough scrubbing of the entire cage once a week should suffice to keep your iguana in good health.

As you take care of your iguana’s housing requirements, making sure it is big enough, with good climbing aids and hiding places, and kept nice and clean, hopefully your pet will be happy to stay home and will not be constantly trying to escape.


If your pet iguana is an escape artist, hopefully you now have some pointers as to why this may be so. Perhaps you need to put in some effort in the area of taming and socializing your iguana so that he knows where and to whom he belongs.

If there are any stress factors causing your ig to be upset and flighty, please see where you could make some changes to restore your pet’s sense of peace.

On the other end of the spectrum, if your iguana is bored, maybe you need to give it a bit more of your time and attention. And finally, make sure that your pet iguana is properly housed so that there will be no need or inclination to try and make an escape.


I’m Devin Nunn, an average joe that just so happens to have a deep love and passion for everything to do with reptiles. Because taking care of them for the vast majority of my life wasn’t fulfilling enough, I decided to begin educating others about them through my articles. read more...