Are you a new iguana owner wondering about all of your feeding options?
Do you want to do some research on all the things these reptiles can eat?
Iguanas are herbivores, but this doesn’t mean they can eat all plants.
There are some better and worse than others.
As an owner, you should be aware of these greens, so you provide the best and safest diet possible for your pet.
But it’s tricky to know what an iguana can eat.
Iguanas can eat most plants, including greens, vegetables, and fruits. They are also good to eat commercial iguana food, but they shouldn’t eat insects or animals. Iguanas are herbivores.
Read ahead for more details, including what to eat, what not to eat, and what to feed baby iguanas.
Note: As the green iguana is by far the most common pet option, this article will approach the food aspect from this iguana.
All other types of iguanas have similar food needs except for the marine iguanas, who eat more algae.
What Can I Feed My Iguana?
This section deals with what green iguanas (and by extension most other iguanas) can eat.
We’ll talk about their natural foods, as well as what this looks like in captivity.
In The Wild
Iguanas are herbivores by nature.
Specifically, scientists call them frugivores and folivores.
Frugivores refer to creatures eating vegetation, nuts, and seeds.
Folivores refer to creatures eating leaves.
Iguanas in the wild eat whatever of these they can find in their natural habitat.
For green iguanas, which live largely in trees, this means leaves, fruit, and seeds.
For land-based rock iguanas, they eat more ground-level vegetation.
Desert iguanas still eat vegetation, but those they can hunt down in the desert.
Marine iguanas will eat algae as their staple food.
In rare and strenuous circumstances, iguanas will eat small amounts of eggs, insects, and snails, but this isn’t something they’ll eat when other food is available.
Their bodies are designed to digest these foods easily or effectively.
Fruits in the wild are rarer than vegetation and leaves, but iguanas will eat these readily if some are found.
The higher sugar content makes fruits a treat for the reptiles.
Iguanas, in general, aren’t picky about what they eat in the wild.
As long as it’s a green, vegetable, or fruit, they’ll give it a try.
Learn more about what iguanas eat in the wild.
As pets, iguanas will eat whatever greens you give them.
This gives you great power in their diet, but it’s also a big responsibility.
Your baseline greens should be natural vegetation and flowers such as the following:
- Apple blossom
On top of this, they’ll also want to eat vegetables for extra boosts on vitamins.
Consider the following:
- Spring Greens
- Florette mix
- Lambs lettuce
- Pak choi
- Wild rocket
- Sweet potato
- Bell Pepper
Fruits may also be given but no more than once per week.
Too much fruit will give the iguana diarrhea quite quickly.
These are some safe fruits:
Fruits high in acid content should be avoided.
Feeding iguanas is simple.
All you need to do is give them a bowl full of a “salad” every day.
The next day, you replace any food in the bowl with a new fresh “salad.”
If you notice the bowl is empty every morning, put more in the bowl.
If you notice a lot is left in the bowl every morning, reduce the amount.
Consider this mix when creating your salad:
- 70% vegetation
- 30% vegetables
- Once per week fruit
As part of your mix, many owners also supplement with commercial iguana food.
- Rep-Cal adult iguana food is formulated to ensure proper growth and health by providing complete and balanced nutrition
- Veterinarian recommended food containing natural plant and fruit ingredients iguanas love and provides 100-percent complete...
- Tested successfully for adult iguanas (more than 12-inch long from nose to base of tail) by reptile veterinarians
Unlike most reptile foods, iguana food is packed with nutrients and a fine part of their diet.
Still, half or more should be fresh foods.
Check out the general iguana care needs.
As with most reptiles, you need to be cautious about the size of the food you offer to your pet.
Reptiles don’t “chew” their food to break it down.
This means their digestive tracts need to be large enough to handle the food as it is.
For iguanas, the rule is the same for most other reptiles.
Look at the space between the iguana’s eyes.
This is the size each piece of food needs to be.
As you make your salads, chop or break down each piece of the food until they’re at this size.
If the iguana eats food too large, there may be serious health consequences.
Often, the iguana will vomit up the food as it gets stuck in the tract.
This causes stress on the iguana’s body.
In more serious cases, the iguana may choke or become constipated.
This could cause even graver health problems, even death.
Many reptiles, iguanas included, are prone to certain vitamin deficiencies when in captivity.
The most common of these is a calcium deficiency, which may result in a serious disease called Metabolic Bone Disease.
Iguanas aren’t as susceptible to this as many, but it’s still something to watch for.
The two biggest things to do as an owner is to provide ample UVB in the cage and offer vitamin supplements.
With iguanas, this means you need to sprinkle their food with a powder supplement such as this Fluker’s brand 1-2 times per week.
- Recommended for reptiles or amphibians that are kept indoors
- Promotes healthy bones and vital bodily functions
Some sensitive reptiles like chameleons and bearded dragons need this every meal. This isn’t so with the iguana.
1-2 times per week is fine.
What To Feed Baby Iguanas
Baby iguanas eat much the same as their adult counterparts.
With babies, we recommend sticking with fresh foods only.
The biggest difference comes in the size of the pieces of the food itself.
You need to take extra care; every piece is chopped up smaller than the distance between the iguana’s eyes.
The amount of salad you’ll give them is going to be less, but you will need to check out their food dish regularly to make sure it’s full.
Always replace food more than a day old, but sometimes they get on a tear and eat a lot in one sitting.
The other main concern with baby iguanas is helping them find their food.
If you put them in a cage too large, the iguana may not be able to find its food dish.
They don’t travel as far to find food at this young age.
We recommend baby iguanas (less than 18″ inches (45.72 cm) in length) be kept in a tank 20 gallons in size.
This should help avoid this problem.
If you notice the baby isn’t eating, you should put the dish in front of the iguana.
It may not be finding the food.
If it’s not eating a lot at the moment, don’t stress.
Reptiles don’t eat when they’re shedding, and growing iguanas shed more often than adults.
Look for signs of shedding (loose skin, etc.) before panicking about not eating.
Foods To Avoid
While the list of foods iguanas eat is large, there are also foods they should avoid.
Here is a quick list of the main foods iguanas shouldn’t eat.
- Animal proteins (make them sick)
- Spinach and parsley (blocks calcium)
- Kale and broccoli (hard on the thyroid)
- High acid content fruits
- Tofu (high in fat)
- Lettuces (no nutrition)
- Insect (not bad, but not good)
- Poisonous or toxic plants
- UVB droplets (do nothing)
- Fruits every day (causes diarrhea)
While these are things to avoid, you should also avoid using the same foods for every meal.
Like humans, iguanas will get stuck in a rut and prefer the foods you give them all the time.
This may result in a picky behavior.
If the food gets switched up, they’ll refuse to eat because it isn’t what they want.
This is another reason you don’t want to give them too many sweet fruits.
Two Common Iguana Food Myths
There are two dangerous food myths out there in regards to iguanas.
Falling for these may shorten the lifespan of your iguana.
Commercial food is the only thing they need to eat. – Commercial iguana food is a good supplement to fresh greens.
The premade food has more nutrients in it than fresh food may be missing, but it shouldn’t be the whole food source.
Insects and animal proteins are good in moderation. – Some owners will push insects and small chunks of animal protein as a small part of the iguana’s diet.
It’s true when in the wild, iguanas will eat insects if they can’t find other food, but their bodies don’t handle the digestion of insect and animal protein.
It’s hard on their kidneys and causes kidney failure and early death.
There’s no reason ever to feed them these.
Use protein-rich greens and supplements to get the protein needs.
Now you know what iguanas can eat.
The greens may not seem like much for such large and dinosaur-like creatures, but it’s more than enough for them to live full and satisfying lives.
Always make sure you provide mostly healthy greens with additional commercial food and fruits as a supplement.
The food should not be larger than the size between their eyes.
Fill their food bowl up in the morning and exchange for fresh food every day.
Do this, and your pet will live a long and healthy life.
Spend Less Time Figuring Out What To Do And More Time Enjoying Your Pet
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