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What Does It Mean When Your Iguana Licks You

Are you curious about some of the behaviors of your iguana?

Have you been trying to create a bond with your new pet?

If you are a first-time iguana owner and are working on building a relationship with your iguana, you might have noticed them licking you, leading you to wonder:

What does it mean when your iguana licks you?

When an iguana licks you, take this as positive behavior, meaning your iguana is just trying to get more information about you.

In this article, we will break down why you iguana licks you, what it means and why they do it.

Keep reading for more information.

what does it mean when your iguana licks you

What Does It Mean When Your Iguana Licks You?

Iguanas are quite curious creatures, and licking you is one way they will gather more information about you.

This is a passive gesture from your iguana, not meant to be an aggressive action or territorial.

It is simply a way for them to give them more information about you and where they are.

When you are trying to build a relationship of trust with your iguana, he will lick you to figure you out.

It doesn’t matter if the iguana is kept as a household pet or living in the wild; they will both lick their surroundings to gather the information.

This behavior is a positive one, meaning you are well on your way to forming a great bond with your pet iguana.

The Jacobson’s Organ

Even though you know understand what it means when your iguana licks you and how they are feeling, you still might be wondering what information do they get from doing it and how do they get the information.

Iguanas have something called a Jacobson’s organ.

It allows them to pick up faint scents when the animal licks or flicks their tongue at the air, on an object, or you.

The Jacobson’s organ is very sensitive and allows the iguana to gather information about smell, taste, and even chemical signals.

With this organ, the iguana can learn more about their environment, food sources, other animals around them, and all more about you, just by licking or flicking their tongue.

They will lick objects and the air putting the Jacobson’s organ to use to provide them with the information they need to know.

This will tell them if something is good to eat or if it is likely to attack.

When Will Your Iguana Lick You?

As we touched on above, your iguana is licking you when they are trying to learn more about you.

They will only do this when they are calm and feeling comfortable with you.

Licking is not something an iguana will do when they are feeling anxious, angry, or threatened.

These curious animals will lick you or other things in their surroundings to learn, but curiosity is not something they display when threatened.

Curiosity will take a back seat to defending themselves and trying to get out of the situation.

When they are first trying to figure out what something is, they will flick their tongue a few times to gather more information.

You might be afraid at first when you feel this lick if you are not used to iguanas, but realize this is normal and allow him or her to proceed.

The iguana might also nip gently at you or the item to figure out if something will bite back, but remain calm and don’t get too excited.

Once the item doesn’t respond, it will move on to exploring the next thing in their line of sight.

You will have to build up the relationship with your iguana slowly, but if you notice them licking you, understand you are making progress.

What Else Will An Iguana Lick?

Iguanas are going to be using their tongue to gather information not just about you, but about everything else in their surroundings.

When you bring the iguana home, they are going to be very nervous will need an adjustment period to get acclimated to their new home.

Once they do, you might notice the animal flicking their tongue in the air and licking many of the objects around them.

When you start to let them out of their cage to explore, they will also be taking advantage of the opportunity to lick their surroundings.

This licking tells them what they can eat or at least what they can try to eat.

As an iguana owner, you will need to be very careful of this habit, as iguanas have been known to eat the things they lick.

Some iguanas have eaten clothing lying around the space, accessories you have hanging around, and even carpets.

Before allowing your iguana to explore outside of the enclosure, try to collect any stray items your iguana could try to eat.

There is a risk to the animal if they eat something hazardous or too large, causing an impaction.

If you think your iguana has swallowed something harmful, contact a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles.

How Else Does An Iguana Communicate?

Iguanas are not going to communicate their happiness or problems verbally.

They are relatively quiet animals.

Some of the only noises they will make are snorting, coughing, tail whipping, and when they move from location to location in their enclosure.

Because of this, you will need to understand their body language to know how they are feeling.

You will learn so much about their emotions from the body language they are displaying.

These motions will tell you if they are happy, angry, threatened, ready to reproduce, or even depressed.

From closing their eyes to standing on their hind legs, your iguana will use body language to convey what they are feeling to other iguanas if they are in the wild and to us when they are in captivity.

When relaxed, an iguana might lay flat on its belly with arms and legs backward next to his body.

If you notice an iguana hiding in the trees or branches you provide, this is also a way to signal emotion.

Sometimes we might retreat to a certain room in our house if we are frustrated or feeling upset.

This is a similar move for the iguana.

Head bobbing is another way iguanas will communicate their emotions.

Usually, the faster the head-bobbing, the more agitated your iguana is.

Each iguana is going to be a little bit different, so watch and learn how your iguana reacts to create a sort of mental catalog for your use.

Why Is Understanding Iguana Body Language And Behavior So Important?

It is very important to be aware of the body language your iguana is displaying to help the animal remain healthy and happy.

This is also important when it comes to keeping you safe as the owner.

An iguana has some very strong defense tricks up their sleeves, and they will use them when they feel threatened.

From sharp teeth, claws and spines to their extremely strong and sharp tail, the iguana will not hesitate to use them when feeling threatened or agitated.

The tail is so strong, it has been known to break bones in owners, and while this is not common, it can happen.

If you read their body language and see agitation and anger, keep you and your pet safe by not trying to push them and pick them up.

Sometimes, your animal will not want to be messed with, and picking up the cues you are getting from the iguana will keep you both safe and not break down the relationship you are trying to build.

Aside from your safety, knowing the body language and normal behaviors of your pet iguana will help you determine if something in their environment is bothering them or making them angry.

Little movement could indicate depression or illness, and constant movement or a lot of tail whipping can mean something, like perhaps an insect invading their space, is bothering them.

Their behaviors will also tell you when they are in the mood to reproduce.

With males, you will have to deal with a more aggressive animal, and females will require more attention as they are preparing to lay eggs.

They will lay eggs even if they have not mated with a male of their species.

When you have had your iguana for a longer period, you will be able to know what is normal behavior and what behaviors stand out.

Being in tune with their body language and behaviors can help keep the animal healthy and keep them in good spirits as long as they are in your care.


When iguanas want to learn more information about something, they often will lick it, whether it is you, a possible food source, or even air.

This positive behavior is a good sign as you work to bond with your pet iguana.

Understanding this interesting behavior, and others displayed by your iguana will help you care for your pet effectively, keeping them happy and healthy as long as they are in your home.

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