Do Iguanas Hibernate?

Typically it is rare for iguanas to hibernate, and most do not hibernate at all unless it is necessary for some reason.  Each species has what is known as a preferred optimum temperature range or POTR.  This temperature range is when the iguana’s body’s organ system works the most efficiently.  Temperatures that are significantly above or below the desirable range can preclude the iguana to environmental and metabolic stress and as a result can end in death if the problem is not corrected.

Species like the iguana deal with abnormally high or low environmental temperatures in their natural environment by altering their habits.  Diurnal animals have been known to rest during the day and only come out at dawn or evening.  Crepuscular animals may come out a bit earlier or later.  Some animals may even attempt to burrow underground or in under substances where the temperature and humidity are less affected by the ambient surface and air temperatures.  Many species will take part in a partial hibernation in which the animal in question will sleep for the duration of the extremely hot, cold, wet, or dry whether helping to conserve energy resources and body fluids until the weather becomes more tolerable.  In this case, you may hear of the words aestivate (referring to summer) and brumate (which refers to winter).

Iguanas typically have a POTR anywhere from 74 degrees to88 degrees Fahrenheit and require a basking temperature of 88 degrees to 95  degrees Fahrenheit.  If you are suspicious that your iguana may not be acting normally then the following signs to look for include the following: attempts to burrow away in the coolest place in the enclosure, lethargy, anorexia, tonic rigidity or loss of tonicity, sleeping for longer periods of time, failure to adequately rouse or respond when disturbed, and the darkening of skin color.

If you notice your iguana experiencing any of these signs it is best to speak to your exotic veterinarian about getting your iguana in for a complete physical examination that will include bloodwork, radiographs and a fecal exam.

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