A recent report in the Daily Gleaner discusses the book Iguanas for Dummies. In this book, the author recommends frequent bathing of iguanas because they normally soak in the wild. Bathing iguanas in the tub is also recommended on various websites. Letting iguanas soak in water is a good recommendation for their health, but there are good ways to do this and bad ways to do this. Soaking them in a bathtub (or sink) is a bad idea.

The Daily Gleaner article points out that bathing iguanas in bathtubs when there are children or immunocompromised people in the house is a bad idea, and that a separate bathtub should be used. I’m glad to see the risks of infectious disease to immunocompromised people are considered, however I’d take it a step further.

  • Reptiles are high risk pets in terms of Salmonella infection. There is a disproportionate rate of Salmonella infections in people that have contact with reptiles, not just immunocompromised people. Fatal infections are rare, but do occur. People that own reptiles need to be aware of this and take practical measures to reduce these risks.
  • Iguanas should never be bathed in the bathtub, regardless who lives in the house.
  • Iguana cages should be of adequate size and design so that they can soak in their own enclosure. Otherwise, a container (e.g. a large plastic storage bin) that is only used for bathing the iguana should be used. Waste water should not be dumped in kitchen or bathroom sinks. The container should be disinfected regularly. Hands should be washed immediately after handling the iguana, the container or the waste water.
  • Households with immunocompromised people or young children should probably not have iguanas.

More information that is applicable to iguanas can be found in the Turtle information sheets on the Womrs & Germs Resources page.  There are also sheets with more information on Salmonella.