Is your iguana showing no interest in the food you put in the enclosure?
Have you noticed your pet iguana losing weight?
When you are concerned about the eating habits of your pet, you might ask:
Why won’t my iguana eat?
There are a few reasons your iguana is not interested in food. These include the temperature being too cold, he’s in a new home, it’s breeding season, or it could mean there’s a more serious health issue.
Keep reading for what you need to know about why you iguana might not be eating.
Why Won’t My Iguana Eat?
If you have had your iguana for a bit of time and normally he’s a great eater, but all of a sudden he’s picking at the food you put in for him or not eating at all, you are obviously going to be concerned.
There are some serious reasons why your iguana might not be interested in food, but there are some normal reasons this is happening.
We will go through the reasons your pet doesn’t want any food here, but if you are still concerned, it is best to contact your vet.
Temperatures Are Too Cold
Environmental temperatures are very important to cold-blooded animals like the iguana.
This means they cannot regulate their body temperature on their own as we humans do.
Instead, they rely on exterior temperatures.
Warm temperatures will make their bodies warm, and cold temperatures outside will make them cold.
In the wild, if temperatures get too low, the iguanas will fall from the trees because their grips loosen as they freeze.
Being too cold will also affect their ability to digest food and, in turn, will curb their appetite.
Iguanas, like other cold-blooded animals, need heat to digest their food properly.
An ideal temperature for an iguana enclosure is between 80° and 85° degrees Fahrenheit (27° – 29° C) for the air temperature, and basking spot temps should be between 96° and 100° degree Fahrenheit (35° – 38° C).
The iguana will need a slightly cooler area in the terrarium, and this should fall between approximately 78° and 80° degrees Fahrenheit (25° – 27° C).
We advise never letting the enclosure get below 73° degrees Fahrenheit (23° C).
If it gets as low as 40° degrees Fahrenheit (4° C), your iguana is likely to die from the cold temperature.
Make sure you have installed the proper lighting setup in the iguana’s enclosure to ensure they can digest their food.
A proper set up includes a UVB and a basking light.
When you are heating the enclosure, avoid using hot rocks, heat pads, or a heat source coming from the floor.
Iguanas have been known to burn themselves on these types of heat sources.
Another good tip is to feed the iguana in the morning to ensure it fully digests food before lights out.
If you opt for an afternoon snack, be sure to do so at least four hours before you would regularly turn off the lights at night.
If you have just recently brought your iguana into your home, it isn’t uncommon for them to avoid eating.
The stress and change coming from a move are likely to take away their appetite.
The good news is, once they begin to acclimate to their new surroundings, the appetite should come back.
A new home is scary for the animal, and it is likely not to feel safe enough even to try eating.
Not only is there a new home, but also new people, new noises, new everything.
Avoiding handling or even touching your iguana during this time to help the animal relax.
Give the animal time and try to talk to the animal in a soothing tone.
If this behavior lasts for more than a week or two, contact a veterinarian.
Once your iguana is about two or three years old, they have reached sexual maturity and will begin displaying breeding behaviors.
In captivity, the breeding season can last anywhere from a month to four months for iguanas.
Breeding behaviors include a lack of appetite for the first month or so of the season.
This is completely normal for both male and female iguanas and should pass within two to five weeks.
If you have a female iguana in your home, she might also avoid eating when she is gravid, meaning she is getting ready to lay her eggs.
A female iguana can lay eggs even if a male of the species does not fertilize them.
As the female progress in her pregnancy, her belly will be full of eggs, and she will not eat.
If your female is gravid, you will need to provide a lay box for her to dig and deposit her eggs.
We touched on fear of a new home earlier, but even if you have had your iguana for years, stress and fear can sneak up on the animal.
Stress is a major factor in how the animal behaves and their overall health.
They will not want to eat if they are feeling anxious and stressed out.
If you think your animal might be stressed, there are a few things to try to adjust to reduce the stress.
Check to make sure the lighting is optimal, and the temperature of their habitat is ideal.
These are easily correctible stressors.
You might also check on the location of the iguana’s food bowl.
Location matters to these animals.
For some iguanas, if the food dish is placed in an open area of their enclosure, they will not feel safe enough to get the food to eat it.
This is a deeply ingrained trait meant to protect the iguanas from predators in the wild.
These animals have not been domesticated as long as other pets, so they tend to have a lot more in common with their wild cousins.
If you have determined the location of the food bowl is the problem, it is easily fixed by moving it closer to plants or branches you have included in their habitat.
Just be sure to move it somewhere a little more covered and protected, and your iguana will feel much safer to emerge and grab some of the food you provide.
We have gone over the not so scary reasons why your animal might not be eating, but we have to touch on the most serious reason of all, sickness.
A lack of appetite is an indication of an illness.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from an illness, it is important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you have multiple iguanas, quarantine the one you suspect is ill, and it is also a good idea to collect a fecal sample to take with you to the vet.
Some of the illnesses causing a lack of appetite include:
- Neurological Issues
- Bladder Stone
- Mouth Abscess
- Metabolic Bone Disease
Your veterinarian will be able to decide on the diagnosis and a course of treatment.
Other Reasons Your Iguana Is Not Eating
There are a few other miscellaneous reasons your iguana might not want any of the food you add to its enclosure.
Your iguana could simply not like the food you provided.
Think about it; you don’t like every single kind of food you come across.
Well, iguanas are not different.
Maybe you were trying something new, and it’s a good thing, but changes can upset the animal, and it might refuse to eat.
On the other hand, if it receives the same meal every day for days on end, the iguana could become bored and will avoid the food until you do offer something new.
It is best to provide a varied diet of veggies, greens, and some fruits for your iguana.
Introduce new items slowly one at a time, and with other foods you know they enjoy.
If you offer a variety from the beginning, your iguana will be more likely to adapt to any changes in food offerings.
You will soon learn what your iguana likes and doesn’t and can try branching out from there.
Don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t do it all at once.
If your iguana enjoyed a meal and ate a ton yesterday, they might not be too hungry today.
Watch what they eat and how much to know if your animal might just be full.
We also don’t advise letting food sit for too long in the enclosure.
The food can go bad in the hot and humid conditions of the enclosure.
Your iguana will not eat spoiled food, and you don’t want it to anyway.
This is easily avoided by regularly changing out the food you offer to the animal.
For an iguana, not eating food is the result of some natural or environmental aspects of life.
It can mean there is something seriously wrong with the animal.
When it doubt, definitely consult a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles.
We hope we have taken some of the confusion out of why your iguana might not be eating the food you place in its enclosure.