×

An Iguana’s Diet

Healthy Iguana

Keeping a strict diet for iguanas plays an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Their primary food should be leafy greens.  Leafy green vegetables should make up at least 50 to 60% of an iguana’s diet.  Other vegetables should make up 30-40% of their diet, and fruits and berries should make up the other 10%.

What are Iguana’s favorite foods?

Iguanas are folivores, which means they love to eat leaves, especially dark green ones.  They also like chopped fruits, flowers, and commercial iguana food, which can be purchased as a supplement for your iguana’s diet.

Some species of iguana are omnivores.  These species will eat mealworms, pinkies, and crickets.

Diet of Iguanas

Food that you need to feed your Iguana daily Food that you need to feed your Iguana 2 to 3 days a week Food that you need to feed your Iguana once a week
Dandelion greens – both flowers and leaves Leeks Spinach
Collard greens Asparagus Broccoli
Turnip greens Mustard greens Apples Sweet potatoes
Watercress Rose petals Brussels sprouts
Endive Mangoes Beetroot
Hibiscus Papaya Cabbage
Snap beans Melon Cauliflower
Parsnips Basil Cucumbers
Rocket Sage Tomatoes
Alfalfa Oregano

Feeding routine

It is best to provide food for your iguana on a regular basis.  They typically eat once every two days, but some types of iguanas will eat once or twice a day.  Their main meal should be provided in the morning, with smaller snacks in the evening.  Evening snacks should be fed about 3 hours before your iguana goes to sleep.

Healthy Iguanas

Supplements for Iguana pet

Your pet iguana needs to be fed healthy food.  In addition, you should provide supplements to maintain their nutrient levels and keep them healthy.  Providing supplemental nutrition will ensure your iguana stays healthy and avoids any health issues.

A fully grown iguana needs calcium supplements sprinkled on its food at least twice a week.  Adult iguanas should also receive vitamin D twice per week.  In contrast, baby iguanas need supplementation at least once per day for healthy growth and development.  Calcium supplementation can be reduced gradually as they mature.

Your pet iguana needs calcium and phosphorus provided in a ratio of 2:1.  Without the proper ratio of calcium and phosphorous, iguanas can have serious health issues.  Too little calcium in an iguana’s diet will lead to Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).

Signs your pet iguana is healthy:

  • Clear eyes
  • Pink mouth
  • Strong reflexes
  • Flat limbs and tail
  • Good appetite
  • Parasite free skin
  • Regular skin shedding appropriate for their age
  • Healthy looking nodes and skin

Food to avoid feeding your iguana

Iguanas cannot eat certain types of food due to the make-up of their digestive system.  They have very selective eating habits.

Do not feed your iguana the following:

  • Bread, pasta, or rice
  • Any foods that contain oxalic content will cause kidney failure. Oxalates reduce an iguana’s calcium levels with catastrophic consequences. Ensure oxalates are not contained in your iguana’s food.
  • Caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, or cola
  • Eggs or dairy products

Why is my iguana not eating?

There are several reasons that an iguana might refuse to eat.  Often it is because they feel uncomfortable.

  • Handling iguanas unnecessarily will cause them to stop eating
  • If they are scared of a new environment or new enclosure
  • If the temperature of their enclosure is too cold.  Iguana’s metabolic rates decrease in the cold, so they aren’t as hungry.
  • If they have eaten too much the day before
  • If you’ve recently changed their diet and they don’t like it
  • If their food has gone bad
  • They don’t feel safe.  This can happen when they are in an open area or visible to others.  Place your pet’s bowl in between plants, so they don’t feel they’re being watched.
Iguanas Food

Results of your pet Iguana when they refuse to eat

  • Weight loss
  • Protruding ribs
  • Thin tail
  • Skinny limbs
  • Skin loosening

How long can an Iguana go without eating?

An iguana can live without food for two weeks without having any health issues.  After two weeks, they will start to have some effects, such as weight loss.  If your iguana is overweight, they can survive almost one month without any adverse effects from food deprivation.

Iguanas Health

Force-feeding an Iguana

Yes, you can force-feed your pet iguana, but remember that this should only be done if it is recommended by a veterinarian.  Sometimes you may need to rehydrate your iguana before force-feeding them.

Weight gaining food for Iguanas

If your iguana has lost too much weight, you can add high-calorie vegetables and plant-based foods, such as:

  • Corn
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Squash
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Mustard
  • Pumpkin

You can also add some fruits, including:

  • Bananas
  • Pomegranate
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • blueberry
  • Pear

Can iguanas become obese?

Yes!  If you provide iguanas with excessive amounts of fatty foods that continually cause weight gain, your iguana will become obese.

Symptoms of obesity in iguanas:

  • Overweight
  • Laziness
  • Fatty livers
  • Reduced life span and quality of life
Obese Iguana

How much water should I give to my Iguana?

Water is an important source of hydration for your iguana, so they must be provided clean drinking water.  Iguanas also absorb water through their skin, so it is important to bathe your iguana with fresh, clean water to keep them hydrated.

An iguana will drink approximately 20 mL of water per 1 kilogram of its body weight.  For example, if your iguana is 4 kilograms, they will drink 80 mL of water per day.

Why is my pet iguana not drinking water?

Dehydrated iguanas will develop digestive and appetite issues.  Occasionally, iguanas have problems drinking enough.  Most of the time, it’s because they don’t want to drink water out of a bowl but want to lick it off plant leaves.  This issue can be resolved by misting the plants in your iguana’s cage.

Final thoughts

Pet iguanas must be cared for with sensitivity, but it’s sometimes difficult.  If they’re properly cared for, iguanas can stay healthy, even for beginner pet owners.  Maintaining their diet and hydration will keep them healthy and avoid health issues.