The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Iguanas are hardy lizards native to Central America and the Caribbean whose United States-based population has been exploding, particularly in Florida. These animals can move across all types of terrain since they are excellent runners, climbers, and even swimmers. They are also popular pets and are the most common lizards kept in American households.
As iguana populations are growing, many people have reported a unique problem—iguanas infesting their pool. Even owners of pet iguanas struggle to limit the roaming of their lizards, they often make a beeline for the water.
Whether you are dealing with a wayward pet or unwanted neighbors, you may be wondering about iguanas and pools. Is swimming good for them? How do chlorine and other pool chemicals affect them?
Here is everything that you need to know about iguanas and chlorine pools, including how to make them get out and stay out of your swimming oasis. Whether you are looking for advice on taking care of an exotic pet or dealing with some unusual pests, this article will help you deal with your iguana problem.
Can Iguanas Swim?
The answer to this question is good news if you are worried about your pet iguana drowning and bad news if you are trying to control iguanas, an invasive species with no natural predators in the United States, around your house.
Green iguanas, which are the species most common in the United States, come from natural habitats that are surrounded by water. They are by nature excellent swimmers.
There is a strong possibility that the average iguana is a better swimmer than you. These lizards can even dive underwater for over an hour.
In the wild, iguanas will often use swimming to escape from threats to their habitat. They spend most of their time living on trees, but prefer trees near a body of water so that they can jump into the water and swim away if they are in danger.
Iguanas are also excellent climbers and hardy enough to survive falls from up to 40 feet in height, so do not be surprised if you see one of them drop from an overhanging tree into your pool!
Thanks to their natural abilities, an iguana that gets into your pool probably won’t drown. However, that does not mean that your pool is the best place for iguanas to be.
How Does Chlorine Affect Iguanas?
Iguanas naturally swim in fresh and salty bodies of water. While many swim in chlorinated pools, it is not the best option for them.
The effects of chlorine on an iguana will depend on the concentration of the chemical in the water. For example, most tap water contains low concentrations of chlorine, but iguanas can drink or bathe in it just fine. Pools have a much higher chlorine content, so it’s best to be careful.
Many iguana owners let their iguanas swim in their chlorine pool without any trouble. It takes more than a little chlorine to get these hardy lizards down, but it’s still best to take precautions.
If you notice that your iguana keeps drinking the chlorine water while it is swimming around, then it’s probably best to find an alternative. Although drinking pool water won’t kill it, it might still make it sick, just like it would sicken a human or a dog.
After your iguana gets out of the pool, you should probably rinse it off with some non-chlorinated water. Just like pool water feels strange on a human’s skin, it will feel weird to your iguana as it dries and rinsing it will keep your lizard more comfortable.
Finally, be mindful of the chlorine concentration levels in your pool. If you’ve just added fresh chlorine to your pool, the levels might be too high for your iguana and it’s best to give it a few days to dissolve in the water. Find another activity to do with your pet or create an alternative bath.
The good news is that chlorine is going out of fashion as a way to keep pools clean. Many newer pools are saltwater pools and use salt chemicals to keep the water clean, which are much gentler on iguanas than old chlorine chemicals.
In conclusion, if you have a chlorine pool and are worried about your pet (or about wild iguanas getting into your pool and hurting themselves), they will probably be fine. However, keep in mind that chlorine is not natural for these animals, just like it is not natural for us.
How to Get an Iguana Out Of a Chlorine Pool
Your pet iguana may be welcome to use the pool with you, but sometimes wild iguanas take that as an invitation to come for a dip as well. Many people living in tropical or subtropical areas struggle with iguanas invading their pool.
Iguanas in the pool cause quite a few problems. Wild ones can be aggressive, making it hard to share space with them, particularly children. They also like to poop in pools. All feces are nasty, but iguana poop in particular is difficult to clean up.
If an unwanted iguana is taking a dip in your pool, here are a few ways to get it out of the water.
Ironically, although iguanas love swimming in pools, they’re not fans of getting sprayed with water. Spraying an invasive iguana with a hose or strategically turning your sprinklers toward it will usually annoy it enough to make it go away.
Physically Fish the Iguana Out
Sometimes, nothing works better than a long stick and some elbow grease. Use a pool skimmer or other tool with a long handle to physically remove the iguana from your pool.
This method can be difficult because chances are that the iguana does not want to leave the pool, so you will spend lots of time trying to catch it. You should also be careful not to get too close because a threatened iguana will attack.
Call the Professionals
Iguanas can be quite dangerous to get rid of on your own. They are aggressive when threatened and will bite or scratch you if you get too close. There have also been reported accidents where people try to use aggressive methods to get iguanas out of their pools, such as shooting them with a BB gun, and only end up hurting themselves or others.
For those reasons, it might be best to call a professional wildlife removal service. Most services in areas with large iguana problems have experience dealing with these lizards. There are even exterminators who specialize in iguana removal. The professionals can help you get rid of iguanas in your pool and set up ways to prevent them from getting in.
Keeping Iguanas Out of Your Pool
Often, prevention is the best way to solve a problem. Iguanas in pools are no different. While it can be difficult to get the iguanas out of the pool once they realize they enjoy it, keeping them out can solve many problems.
Preventing iguanas from getting into your pool in the first place also saves you the effort of needing to clean it and change the water to get rid of iguana poop.
Use a Pool Cover
Sometimes, the simplest solutions work best. Covering your pool will prevent iguanas from getting in while you are out and about. You can go to a specialty store, or you can find pool covers for in-ground and above-ground pools online. Although it may be annoying to have to uncover your pool every time you want to go for a swim, at least the iguanas will stay out.
Have Wire Barriers
A fence is not enough to keep iguanas off of your property, since these hardy lizards are excellent climbers as well as diggers. That is why many homeowners in areas with large iguana populations opt for wire fencing or barriers. Chicken wire is harder for iguanas to climb, and because you need to dig into the ground to install it, they can’t dig under it either.
Make it Harder for Them to Climb
Besides digging under fences, iguanas also get into people’s yards and pools by climbing. One way to prevent them from doing this is by trimming any tree branches that hang over your property, particularly your pool.
In the wild, iguanas like to relax on trees above bodies of water so they can drop into the water at a moment’s notice, and you want to prevent them from doing the same in your yard. You can also wrap your tree trunks in sheet metal, which is too smooth for iguanas to climb.
If an iguana feels at home in your yard, it will start digging holes and burrows on your property. These are places where the iguanas sleep and breed—so you may have many little iguanas running around soon if you’re not careful.
When you see an empty burrow, fill it with dirt and rocks so the iguana doesn’t get back in. Just make sure that there are no iguanas actually in the burrow because riling them up will only cause more problems in the future.
Adjust Your Behavior
Sometimes, your behavior may unwittingly signal to wild iguanas that your yard is a safe place for them to hang out. Like most wild animals, they are very food-motivated, so be sure that you are not leaving any food out. Cover your trash cans well so the lizards can’t get in them.
Iguanas love cut-up fruits and vegetables, but they’ll also nose through pet food and dog kibble! Be particularly mindful of what your kids are doing, if you have them. Some kids love iguanas and try to feed them, which can quickly make your yard a central gathering place for the lizards.
Swimming Alternatives for Your Pet Iguana
There is plenty of advice for keeping stray iguanas out of the pool, but if you have a pet iguana, then you may want to take it for a dip with you.
In fact, swimming is actually important for your iguana’s health. These lizards need regular time in the water to keep themselves clean, moisten their skin, and help with shedding. If your iguana does not get regular access to water, it may start acting irritable and feeling sick.
If you have a pool, the easiest way to give your iguana some water time is to take it for a swim with you. However, be sure to keep a close eye on your iguana while you are in the pool because it could try to escape. Although your iguana is probably attached to you, its drive for adventure can be pretty strong!
If you don’t have a pool, or you recently added chlorine to it and are worried that the levels are too high for your iguana, then you can give your iguana a soak in your tub. Just fill up your tub with a few inches of warm water and place some towels down to catch the inevitable splashes.
Be sure to avoid bubble baths or body wash as that could irritate your iguana’s skin.
Cleaning a Pool After an Iguana
When iguanas feel relaxed, they tend to relax their bowels, which means that after your iguana takes a dip, your pool may be full of poop.
If you spot iguana poop in your pool, use a skimmer or net to get it out, then add extra chlorine to disinfect the water. Be sure to sanitize the filter and equipment that you used and to wash your hands thoroughly as iguanas, like all reptiles, are salmonella carriers.
Iguanas and Chlorine Pools
Both wild and pet iguanas are excellent swimmers, so they tend to make a beeline for backyard pools. Although chlorine is not the healthiest substance for them, they can swim in chlorinated pools.
If you are trying to keep wild iguanas out of your pool, put up barriers to your property and make sure not to leave food lying around. If it’s a consistent problem, call a professional exterminator.
If you just want to take your pet for a swim, then take it in the pool with you as long as the chlorine levels are not too high. Just be prepared to clean up any poop afterward.