What do Iguanas Eat?

Iguanas are primarily herbivorous, and 80 to 90% of their diet should be green leafy vegetables. Only 10 to 20% of their diet should be fruits.

You should choose meals that are rich in dietary calcium for the animals, and you can use vitamin supplements or sprinkle their food with calcium powder to boost their health.

Best Food for Iguanas

The diet of Iguanas should include:

1. Vegetables

Iguanas eat most leafy green vegetables, and they can consume some red, orange, and yellow vegetables too. The most recommended vegetables are those with a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1.

They include clover, watercress, celery greens, dandelion greens, parsley, collard greens, Chinese cabbage, and cilantro. Such foods will encourage the growth of healthy bones in your pet.

Beware of fiber-rich and nutrient-deficient green vegetables like the iceberg lettuce as they can result in metabolic bone disease. This condition is marked by fragile and easily-broken bones.

Some yellow light vegetables with reasonable amounts of calcium are raw okra, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini squash, butternut squash, and bell peppers. All these vegetables should be mixed up during the week for a varied diet.

When giving frozen veggies, ensure you warm them to room temperature before giving your iguana.

2. Fruits

Fruits are generally a salad dressing to the vegetables given to iguanas. Some fruits to include are figs, plums, apples, cantaloupe, blueberries, strawberries, papaya, mangoes, and pears. Steer clear of fruits that are high in calcium oxalates like starfruit and rhubarb. Melons, grapes, and nectarines will make occasional tasty treats. Only give your pet fruit skins if you are sure that they are organic.

3. Greens

The best greens for iguanas include bok choy, clover, dandelions, collard greens, swiss chard, watercress, turnip tops, and collard greens. Romaine lettuce can be given because it is more nutritious than the other kinds of lettuce.

You should also give small quantities of vegetables that have oxalates. Spinach and beet greens are some foods that have this element that discourages the absorption of calcium. Mustard greens, green and red cabbages, and kale have goitrogens that cause hypothyroidism in large quantities.

Growing the greens by yourself is a sure way to know that you are not giving your iguana any harmful chemicals. Since this is not always feasible, you want to get your vegetables from organic establishments like the farmer’s market.

If you are not certain about the quality of the greens you get, you can soak them in a combination of four parts water and one part plain white vinegar. Rinse them off the taste of vinegar, and this should reduce the number of pesticides and other chemicals.

Keep in mind that iguanas swallow their food rather than chew it. It is therefore advisable to chop the greens to make it easy for them.

Iguanas should not be given dog or cat foods because of the high amounts of protein. You can give them vitamin and calcium supplements if you want to provide extra nutrients.

4. Commercial Food

You can supplement your pet’s diet with commercial pellets. Most brands will market their products as being nutritious and healthy, but you need to check if they are free of animal protein and other unsuitable ingredients. Dry pellets need to be moistened to avoid dehydrating your iguana.

Good iguana pellets should have plant meals like carrots, lima beans, mustard greens, and dried fruits. They should be free of artificial colors and flavors and fillers like corn. Products with alfalfa are also appropriate, but avoid those with soy and grains.

Commercial food should not be the primary base of your iguana’s diet, and it should only be used from time to time.

Food You Should Avoid Feeding to Iguanas

Iguanas should not be given animal proteins as they are herbivores. Live insects, rodents, dog food, meats, and bugs will cause liver and kidney disorders in iguanas.

Foods that are high in oxalic acids should be given in small quantities as they can result in calcium deficiency. Such foods include beets, spinach, celery stalk, swiss chard, and beet greens. Other items to avoid feeding regularly are cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips, and Chinese cabbage because they have goitrogens, which lead to thyroid dysfunctions.

In addition to being rich in proteins, soybeans have phytoestrogens that can interfere with growth in iguanas. Tofu has high amounts of oxalates and protein and should not be eaten by the animals. Do not give the pet avocado, dairy products, and candy.

How to Feed Your Iguana?

You should give iguanas their meals in small pieces that they can easily swallow. The size of the grated, shredded, or chopped vegetables will depend on your pet’s age. Food processors do an efficient job of slicing the food into small bits that your pet will not choke on. The smaller pieces also provide more surface area for the digestive system to absorb nutrients for a healthy animal.

Iguanas can easily develop a preference for specific items, which is why you need to mix up the food you give them. If you feed them too much of a particular food, they will be picking it and ignoring the rest.

This is unhealthy because they need different nutrients from various fruits and vegetables. A food processor will blend these items together until they cannot differentiate one from the other. You can also provide small quantities of every food so that the pet is still hungry even after eating their favorites.

Iguanas are known to create messes during mealtimes. Invest in a shallow and weighted bowl that they can fit in when eating. It can be stainless, ceramic, or non-toxic plastic. Cheap dishes will quickly be damaged while less-sturdy ones will be tipped over. The dish should be set in a cool area in the pet’s pen to prevent spoilage.

How Much Should Adult Iguanas Eat?

Adult iguanas should be fed every day. It is best to give them most of the food in the morning hours and a snack in the evening. Remove any uneaten food in the evening since the pet should not feed a few hours before it goes to sleep. Iguanas appreciate routines, and you should establish a predictable eating schedule.

Keeping your iguana hungry has only been shown to be effective when introducing a new food. If they are rejecting other foods, they will eventually eat them if they are hungry enough.

There is a low risk of overfeeding an iguana if you are giving them a well-constructed and varied diet. Breeding males do not feed for months in the wild, while gravid iguanas carry so many eggs that they can only consume a few veggies now and then.

It is possible to underfeed an iguana if they are not getting enough food. To determine that they are well-fed, ensure that the hip bone does not protrude from the base of its tail. Pronounced skin flaps stretching down the body of an iguana indicate starvation.

Do You Need to Feed any Supplements to Iguanas?

Calcium supplements are recommended for iguanas and should be given at least once a week. Females that are laying eggs and young iguanas especially need calcium supplementation. The best supplements come in a calcium to phosphorous ratio of 2:1. Commercial supplements mainly source these elements from limestone flour, bone meal, and dicalcium phosphate.

Your pet also requires vitamins and multivitamins. Folic acid is recommended for reproducing iguanas, while Vitamin C and E promote healthy immunity. They will particularly need these supplements when you are feeding the pets with a lot of commercial food.

Supplements should be given in small doses and should be ideally sprayed on food. If your pet is not getting enough sunlight, you can provide Vitamin D3 supplements, but too much of it will lead to mineralization in the iguana’s body.

Do Iguanas Need Water?

Iguanas are prone to getting dehydrated, which is why you should provide enough water. They obtain most of their water from plants, and you can mist the vegetables you give them for an extra moisture boost.

In the wild, iguanas lap water from their environment, and you can mist up their living area so that they get extra water droplets. Provide water in a bowl that cannot be tipped over to prevent messes. You can teach young iguanas to bathe while drinking water.

It is vital to clean the water dish daily because they often defecate in the water source. The water dish, therefore, needs to be large enough to be used as a litter pan.

Can Iguanas Eat Insects?

Iguanas are herbivorous and do not need the protein that is available in insect meals. Do not give your pet live, dried, or frozen insects to prevent digestive problems.

What do Baby Iguanas Eat?

Baby iguanas should eat 95% vegetables and 5% fruit and dry foods. Moisten the dry foods to help the young ones swallow them.

What do Iguanas Eat in the Wild?

In the wild, iguanas have established a herbivorous diet consisting of flower buds, leaves, and fruits. They will eat plants like dandelion greens, mustard greens, plums, and turnip greens.

Conclusion

Iguanas should be mainly fed with vegetables and greens, which should be free from chemicals and pesticides. The animals also appreciate small quantities of fruits, dry food, and supplements.

It is advisable to feed them daily and give them the most food in the morning. The animals also need fresh water every day.

Updated: January 20, 2020

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