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What Do Iguanas Eat? A Comprehensive Guide to Feeding Your Pet Iguana




Two iguanas enjoying their meal of shredded vegetables in a claypot. Find out what do iguanas eat.

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Are you an iguana enthusiast or considering adopting one of these fascinating creatures? Congratulations! Iguanas make unique and enjoyable pets but require proper care and feeding to ensure their health and happiness. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about “what iguanas eat” and how to provide the best care for your scaly companion.

Short Summary

  • Wild iguanas have a primarily herbivorous diet of leaves, buds, fruits and seeds, which should be replicated when caring for pet iguanas.
  • Feed your pet Iguana dark green leafy vegetables, calcium-rich foods and fruit in moderation to ensure their health & happiness.
  • Monitor the calcium/phosphorus ratio of their diet. Adjust feeding frequency based on age & size, provide access to clean water, and commit to proper care, all essential for long-term well-being!

Iguana Diet in the Wild

Zoomed image of an iguana's head eating plant leaves.

Before diving into the intricacies of feeding pet iguanas, it’s essential to understand their natural diet in the wild. Wild iguanas are primarily herbivores, foraging for leaves, buds, fruits, and seeds in their natural habitat. Their plant-based diet is crucial for their health and survival, so it’s no surprise that a proper diet for captive iguanas should closely resemble what they consume in the wild.

Iguanas require a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, and greens to stay healthy. Their diet should comprise leafy greens like collard, kale, and dandelion.

Herbivorous Nature

The herbivorous nature of iguanas, mainly green iguanas, is evident in their preference for plant matter in the wild. They primarily munch on leaves from trees and vines, and some species even enjoy algae and plants growing near the shoreline.

Their favorite foods consist of leaves, seeds, and fruits, providing them with essential nutrients to thrive in their natural environment.

Foraging Behavior

Wild iguanas are active foragers, exploring the ground or nearby trees and shrubs in search of food. Their keen sense of smell helps them locate the best sources of nutrition, such as leaves, fruits, and flowers from herbs, shrubs, trees, and vines.

This foraging behavior ensures they consume a diverse and balanced diet to maintain their health and body temperature.

Natural Predators

Wild iguanas face predators in their natural habitat, including birds, crocodiles, and alligators. To survive in the wild, iguanas have developed various defense mechanisms, such as spines on their back and tail, using their tail like a whip, and even changing color for camouflage.

Understanding the challenges wild iguanas face provides valuable insights into the care and management of captive iguanas.

Feeding Your Pet Iguana

Iguana eating different shredded vegetables in a claypot.

Now that we’ve explored wild iguanas’ natural diet and behavior, let’s dive into the specifics of feeding your pet iguana. A well-balanced diet is crucial for their health and should consist of dark green leafy vegetables (80-90%), calcium-rich foods (40-50%), and a moderate amount of fruit (10-20%).

Feeding your pet iguana a proper diet daily ensures they receive all the essential nutrients for optimum health and well-being.

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Dark green leafy vegetables are vital to your pet iguana’s diet, providing essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some excellent options include collards, turnip greens, kale, spinach, endive, escarole, and mustard greens.

When feeding your iguana these vegetables, ensure they are fresh and washed correctly. It’s also important to vary the types of vegetables offered to provide a well-rounded diet for your scaly friend.

Calcium-Rich Foods

Calcium is crucial for iguanas’ bone health and overall well-being. Iguanas need a lot of calcium in their diet. Some top calcium-rich foods for them include figs, collard greens, beet greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, parsley, Swiss chard, and alfalfa.

An adult iguana’s diet should be high in calcium. Vegetables that are rich in calcium include cactus, broccoli, squash, green beans, sprouts, sweet potatoes, parsnips, okra, cucumbers, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, peas, and corn. These should make up 40-50% of the iguana’s diet. Providing a variety of calcium-rich foods ensures your iguana maintains solid bones and a healthy body.

Fruit Intake

While fruit should only account for a small part of an iguana’s diet (10-20%), including some in their meals is still important. Apples, pears, bananas, mangoes, grapes, and melons are all suitable for iguanas when given in small amounts.

Including a moderate amount of fruit in your iguana’s diet adds variety and ensures they receive essential nutrients from diverse sources.

Special Considerations for Baby Iguanas

Baby iguana eating a yellow flower.

Caring for baby iguanas requires extra attention to their feeding and nutritional needs. They must be fed more frequently than adults, and their protein intake should be limited to less than 10% of their diet.

Proper nutrition is essential to prevent health issues and ensure your baby iguana grows into a muscular, healthy adult.

Frequency of Feeding

Baby iguanas need more frequent feedings than their adult counterparts. When caring for a young iguana, it’s best to feed them finely chopped food at least twice daily.

This ensures they receive adequate nutrition to support their rapid growth and development during this crucial stage of life.

Protein Intake

While protein is an integral part of an iguana’s diet, limiting animal-based protein intake for baby iguanas to no more than 10% of their diet is essential. Instead, focus on providing a balanced diet rich in plant-based protein sources such as dark leafy greens and calcium-rich vegetables.

This ensures proper growth and development without overloading their systems with potentially harmful animal-based proteins.

Preventing Health Issues

Proper nutrition is crucial in preventing health issues in baby iguanas. Metabolic bone disease and respiratory infections are common health problems in young iguanas, while kidney disease and salmonella infections are also fairly prevalent.

Ensuring your baby iguana receives a balanced diet helps prevent these health issues and sets them on a healthy, happy life.

Water and Hydration for Iguanas

Iguana drinking water.

Water and hydration are essential for iguanas’ overall health and well-being. They need a constant supply of fresh water and require bathing to stay cool and adequately hydrated. Iguanas can absorb water through their skin, making it even more crucial to provide them with access to clean, fresh water.

Fresh Water Access

Providing your iguana with fresh water access is simple and essential for their health. Offer them a shallow dish of water that is easy for them to reach, and clean the bowl regularly to ensure they always have access to clean water.

Also, daily misting your iguana and its environment can help keep them hydrated and comfortable.

Water Absorption

While iguanas absorb water through their digestive system, not through their skin, providing them with a large dish of water to soak in can still benefit their overall well-being. Soaking in water can help them shed their skin and be used as a litter pan.

Bathing and Temperature Regulation

Bathing is essential to an iguana’s care, as it helps them regulate their body temperature and stay cool. To bathe your iguana, fill a bathtub with warm water to its shoulder level and let them soak for 20-30 minutes.

Add a few drops of baby soap and use a washcloth or toothbrush to remove dirt or feces.

Avoiding Common Dietary Pitfalls

Pile of iceberg lettuce with a red circle indicating prohibition or "no."

When caring for your pet iguana, you must be aware of common dietary pitfalls to ensure their health and happiness. Avoid iceberg lettuce, celery, and animal proteins such as pinky mice.

Also, proper calcium intake and monitoring the calcium-phosphorus ratio can help prevent Metabolic Bone Disease, a common health issue in captive iguanas.

Foods to Exclude

Certain foods should be excluded from your iguana’s diet due to their low nutritional value or potential harm. Iceberg lettuce and celery should be avoided, as they provide few nutrients and can lead to an imbalanced diet.

Likewise, animal proteins, including pinky mice, should be limited in an iguana’s diet to ensure proper health and well-being.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic bone disease (MBD) is a common health issue in captive iguanas caused by a lack of calcium in their diet. Symptoms of MBD include weakened bones, growth abnormalities, and other health issues.

To prevent MBD, it’s crucial to provide your iguana with a calcium-rich diet and monitor the calcium-phosphorus ratio in their meals.

Monitoring Calcium-Phosphorus Ratio

Maintaining the proper calcium-phosphorus ratio in your iguana’s diet is essential for their health. An ideal balance of 2:1 ensures they receive enough calcium for strong bones and overall well-being.

Monitoring this ratio helps prevent health issues such as Metabolic Bone Disease and promotes a balanced diet for your pet iguana.

Supplements and Commercial Food Options

Two commercial food options for iguanas.

In addition to providing your iguana with fresh fruits and vegetables, vitamin and mineral supplements are recommended, particularly for growing iguanas. Commercial pellets can also be used with fresh produce to support a balanced diet for your green iguana.

Understanding the role of supplements and commercial food options in your iguana’s diet is essential for their health and happiness.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Vitamin and mineral supplements are crucial in ensuring your iguana receives all the nutrients for a healthy diet. For growing iguanas, calcium powder without vitamin D or phosphorus should be given every other day (4-5 times per week) and a multivitamin supplement with vitamin D twice a week.

Adult iguanas require calcium supplementation once or twice weekly and a multivitamin with vitamin D twice a month.

Commercial Pellets

Commercial pellets are specially formulated to provide nutrition to iguanas and can be used alongside fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. They are a convenient option for iguana owners, offering a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs.

When feeding your iguana commercial pellets, remember to use them in moderation and supplement them with fresh produce to ensure a well-rounded diet.

Supplement Schedules

Establishing a supplement schedule based on your iguana’s age and growth stage is essential to ensure they receive the proper nutrition for optimal health. Provide calcium powder three times a week and multivitamin powder once weekly for baby and juvenile iguanas.

On the other hand, adult iguanas require a light sprinkle of calcium supplements on their food once or twice a week and a multivitamin with vitamin D twice a month.

Long-term Care and Feeding Tips

Huge green iguana munching on vegetables.

Caring for an iguana requires time, space, experience, and commitment. A proper diet, suitable living arrangements, appropriate UVB lighting, and maintaining the correct temperature are all crucial aspects of iguana care.

By adapting feeding frequency as your iguana ages and monitoring health indicators, you can ensure a happy, healthy life for your pet iguana.

Adapting Feeding Frequency

As iguanas grow and age, their feeding frequency should be adjusted accordingly. Baby iguanas should be fed at least twice a day, while adult iguanas can be fed once or every other day, depending on their size and weight.

By adopting the feeding frequency to suit your iguana’s age and needs, you can ensure they receive the appropriate nutrition for optimal health.

Monitoring Health Indicators

Regularly monitoring your iguana’s health indicators, such as eating habits, weight, and signs of Metabolic Bone Disease, can help prevent potential health issues and ensure their well-being.

Regular vet visits and maintaining a balanced diet can also contribute to the early detection and treatment of any health concerns that may arise.

Commitment to Proper Care

Caring for an iguana is a long-term commitment, requiring dedication to proper care and feeding throughout its lifespan. Ensuring your iguana receives a balanced diet, fresh water, necessary supplements, and appropriate living conditions are all essential aspects of iguana care.

You can enjoy a rewarding relationship with your scaly companion for years by committing to proper care.


In conclusion, providing proper care and feeding for your pet iguana is essential for their health and happiness. By understanding their natural diet and behavior, offering a balanced diet of dark green leafy vegetables, calcium-rich foods, and fruits, and adhering to proper feeding frequency and supplement schedules, you can ensure your iguana thrives in your care. Remember, caring for an iguana is a long-term commitment, but with dedication and proper care, you will be rewarded with a fascinating and unique companion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an iguana eat?

Iguanas have a varied diet that consists of both plants and animals. They primarily eat leaves, flowers, and fruit but may also feed on insects, lizards, eggs, and small animals like nesting birds.

So if you’re looking for a pet that loves to munch, an iguana is your go-to!

What do iguanas in Florida eat?

Iguanas in Florida can eat a variety of vegetation, including shoots, leaves, blossoms, and fruits. Commonly consumed items include nicker bean, fire bush, jasmine, orchids, roses, Washington fan palms, hibiscuses, garden greens, squashes, and melons.

Thus, they can access various foods to maintain their diet.

Do iguanas eat pets?

No, iguanas typically do not eat pets. They are primarily herbivores and prefer to eat fruits, vegetables, and leaves.

While they might also eat insects and other small animals in the wild, they don’t usually hunt or eat larger animals such as cats and dogs.

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