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Informative Guide to What Iguanas Eat as Pets

New owners may wonder what iguanas eat as pets. Find out more about the type of food these lizards kept as pets at home normally consume here.

New owners usually need information regarding what iguanas eat as pets. We understand their situation. 

We want to emphasize that it is important that these lizard pet keepers are aware of the proper diet for their domesticated home companions. Iguanas can avoid health problems if their owners know the nutritious foods to give them.

Veterinarians have learned considerably about proper nutrition for reptiles over the past 20 years. Thus, the recommended diet for iguanas has changed substantially.

We gathered that many veterinarians recommend feeding plant material only to iguanas. However, many of these animal health specialists feel that what iguanas eat as pets every day should be supplemented with up to 5 to 10 percent pelleted or commercial canned foods formulated specifically for iguanas. 

These veterinarians believe that such dietary supplement is acceptable. In this educational article, we provided iguana owners with specific details about what iguanas eat as pets.

We tackled the nature of these reptiles as eaters and their proper diet. Additionally, we divided the information regarding iguanas’ food to help the lizard pet keepers fully comprehend their domesticated home companion’s nutritional needs.

What iguanas eat

Iguanas as Herbivores and Folivores: Must-Know Information for Owners

When learning about what iguanas eat as pets, these domesticated reptiles’ feeders placed inside their tanks usually contain plant material since these animals are herbivores. Additionally, iguanas are folivores.

Hence, they are mainly consumers of plants’ leaves. Moreover, we want to inform iguana owners that iguanas in the wild feed nearly entirely on trees’ leaves and vines, as well as some flowers and fruits.

We want to highlight to iguana owners that their lizard pets are hindgut fermenters. This fact means that iguanas have particular microbes or special bacteria and flagellate organisms that usually inhabit their gastrointestinal tracts.

These elements ferment the high-fiber foods iguanas ingest, enabling the foods’ nutrients to be absorbed in these reptile pets’ intestines and utilized by their bodies. 

As consumers, we want to clarify that what iguanas eat as pets, whether they are the blue or red iguana morphs, is the same nutritious diet as the green iguana. 

These domesticated lizards need to eat nutritious staple foods to stay healthy, and we want to inform our readers that this aspect is one of the main parts of properly caring for these animals.

What iguanas eat

Feeding Baby, Juvenile, and Adult Iguanas: Similarities and Differences

The nutritious, plant-oriented diet applies to baby, juvenile, and adult iguanas. Young lizards, like the baby and juvenile ones, need to eat every day.

We want to advise owners that they should let their young iguanas eat as much food as they want at least twice daily as well because they need proper nutrition to grow healthily. Additionally, owners can feed their adult iguanas every day.

Nonetheless, if these reptile pets are overweight, their keepers can choose to feed them every other day or only once in two days. We want to point out that obesity is one of the iguanas’ health problems.

Thus, we highly recommend reducing the food portions a little starting from the iguana ages of 4 to 5 years old to prevent these tamed lizards from getting fat. Another suggested feeding practice is giving the iguana’s main meal in the morning.

Then, the owner will provide the lizard pet with some snacks later in the evening, three hours before it sleeps. We affirm that iguanas love routines, and owners performing these feeding practices daily as scheduled can facilitate their tamed lizard’s overall wellness.

What iguanas eat

Iguanas’ Eater Profile and Feeding Plan

As herbivores and folivores, iguanas will thrive and be healthy if their owners feed them with a strictly vegetarian diet. This kind of meal plan enables these domesticated home companions to live long lives free from ailments.

Indeed, the wholesome plant-based diet prevents iguanas from having kidney problems. In this informative article, we want to share the following important information about the right food to supply the iguanas with.

We categorized the foods to help owners better understand exactly what iguanas eat as pets, which are the following:

1. VEGETABLES

When discussing what iguanas eat as pets, most or 80 to 90 percent of these reptile pets’ diets should be dark green leafy vegetables. Yellow, red, and orange vegetables are also recommended.

However, we do not advise supplying the iguanas with light-green vegetables like celery, iceberg or head lettuce. These organic foods contain mostly water, few nutrients, and are vitamin-deficient. 

The vegetables fed to iguanas can be offered raw or cooked. Nevertheless, we highly recommend raw vegetables because cooking eliminates many of the essential nutrients.

Calcium-rich vegetables best to feed iguanas, which should make up 40 to 50 percent of an adult iguana’s diet, comprise dandelion, collard greens, escarole, beet greens, kohlrabi, and mustard greens.

The iguanas will also become healthy by consuming romaine, turnip greens, Swiss chard, alfalfa hay, parsley, bok choy, and kale. We want to point out to iguana owners that beet greens, Swiss chard, and spinach are, indeed, fantastic calcium sources, complementing regular calcium powder with vitamin D doses.

Nonetheless, iguana keepers should not feed these vegetables exclusively to their domesticated reptiles. After all, these organic foods contain oxalates binding to other sources of dietary calcium and trace minerals.

This action prevents nutrient absorption in the iguana’s intestine, thereby making them unavailable to the domesticated lizard and potentially leading to nutrient deficiencies for these pets. 

Additionally, we want to inform our readers that mustard greens, cabbage, and kale contain goitrogens or chemicals that can lead to goiter or hypothyroidism.

The latter is a health condition that involves the enlargement of the thyroid gland and making it function improperly. Therefore, we recommend giving only small amounts of these vegetables to the iguanas.

Meanwhile, other vegetables can make up an additional 30 to 40 percent of an adult iguana’s diet. They comprise cactus, corn, peas, broccoli, carrots, squash, and bell peppers.

Iguanas will also benefit nutritiously from eating mushrooms, green beans, asparagus, sprouts, cucumber, sweet potato, okra, and parsnips. 

2. FRUITS

Fruits are a significant component of what iguanas eat as pets. Veterinarians recommend fruits as less than 20 percent of the lizard pet’s diet.

We agree that these natural foods should make up merely a small percentage of an iguana’s total diet. Iguanas love tasty fruit.

Hence, we advise owners to feed their reptile pets with fruits sparingly and as a top dressing on salads since fruits are usually nutrient-poor and water-rich for these tamed lizards.

Some fruits advisable to feed iguanas are strawberries, apples, raspberries, pears, blueberries, tomatoes, guava, and peaches. We also highly recommend bananas with skin, dates, mangoes, figs, grapes, apricots, star fruit, melons, and kiwifruit.

What iguanas eat

3. FLOWERS

Iguana owners can offer their domesticated home companions edible flowers as treats. These organic foods lizard pet keepers can place on their iguana’s feeder can be homegrown or purchased from local floral shops.

The latter are commercial establishments that usually discard or throw out old, wilting flowers that iguana keepers can often get for free. Some examples of edible flowers that iguanas eat are roses, geraniums, and nasturtiums.

Furthermore, iguanas eat hibiscus, carnations, and dandelions. When feeding edible flowers to iguanas, we want to advise the reptile pet owners to ensure no chemicals have been applied to these organic foods before they get fed to the lizard pets.

4. LEGUMES

We highly recommend young iguanas have legumes as up to 5 percent of their total diet. These nutritious foods include kidney beans, boiled lentils, pinto beans, and navy beans.

5. ANIMALS

Iguanas eat foods that comprise large amounts of animal-based protein to stay healthy and live longer. Among these organic foods are hard-boiled eggs, live crickets, pinky mice, and mealworms.

The domesticated lizards can also benefit from eating tofu. We want to advise iguana owners to offer these organic foods to their adult reptile pets as merely less than 5 percent of the latter’s total diet.

After all, these foods are quite high in protein for adult iguanas to eat often, and too much of them is certainly not advisable. Meanwhile, young, growing domesticated lizards can have up to 10 percent of their total diet made up of animal-based protein sources.

We recommend cat and dog food, although not as regular foods for the iguanas. It is because these food products contain too much fat, protein, and vitamin D, which can be bad for iguanas’ overall wellness. 

6. FRESH AND CLEAN WATER

Like other animals, iguanas need to drink fresh and clean drinking water. We want to advise owners that drinking water should be available at all times for their domesticated home companions. 

Iguanas generally do not drink too much water. They get most of the moisture from the food they eat. 

Moreover, iguanas drink from water bowls their owners provide them with in their vivarium. Besides drinking fresh and clean water, these lizard pets also bathe in it. 

We want to emphasize that both bathing and drinking activities enable iguanas to stay hydrated since these reptile pets absorb water through their skin. 

Additionally, we recommend iguana keepers offer drinking water to their lizard pets or spray water on their commercial foods occasionally offered to them since these nutriments are dry and lack moisture. 

When giving drinking water to iguanas, owners need to provide their lizard pets with a heavy water bowl difficult for the animal to tip over. These reptile pet keepers should change the drinking water and clean the water bowl every day as well.

After all, iguanas often move their bowel on the water bowl while bathing. Finally, we recommend iguana owners mist their domesticated reptiles with a water sprayer a few times per week.

This step helps their tamed lizard remain hydrated, especially during the winter when the air is drier and colder than the other seasons. 

Besides organic foods such as vegetables, fruits, flowers, legumes, animals, and fresh drinking water, it is also highly advisable that iguanas receive proper doses of mineral and vitamin supplements like liquid vitamins to always be in excellent health condition.

(D) Vitamin and Mineral Supplements as Essentials for Iguanas 

All iguanas, regardless of color and age, have a higher requirement for dietary calcium than phosphorus. Nevertheless, the type and amount of supplements iguanas need are somewhat age-dependent and controversial. 

Most veterinarians prescribe lightly sprinkling a growing lizard pet’s food every other day, or four to five times weekly, with calcium powder.

This mineral supplement is specifically formulated for reptile pets. Adult iguanas may only be able to utilize the specific type of vitamin D made in their skin in response to ultraviolet or UV lamp’s light. 

But young and growing iguanas need vitamin D for the proper formation of their bones. Many of these domesticated lizards are housed inside their tanks with minimal UV light exposure.

Thus, most veterinarians recommend young iguanas receive multivitamin supplements with vitamin D twice per week. We agree that recommendations for supplementing adult iguanas with vitamins and minerals vary.

Additionally, we gathered that most veterinarians recommend that adult or fully grown iguanas be given a calcium supplement lightly sprinkled on their foods once to twice a week and multivitamin supplements containing vitamin D twice per month.

These animal health specialists prescribe any supplements should be dusted onto small portions of salads or moist foods. Furthermore, those portions should be fed first to the iguanas to ensure that these animals receive the essential nutrients their bodies need.

We highly recommend that iguana pet keepers take their time to understand the vitamin and mineral supplement requirements of their domesticated reptiles. We also suggest they learn more pieces of helpful advice to become better informed about how to keep their iguanas healthy at all times.

(E) Other Important Advice When Feeding Iguanas

Iguanas thrive on natural foods, especially plant or leaf-based nutriments. Moreover, they will be healthy and can provide prolonged satisfaction to their owners if the latter follow the additional tips below:

1. Calcium-to-phosphorus (Ca:P) ratios are extremely important in an iguana’s diet.

The green leafy vegetables, fruits, and other organic foods should contain a 2:1 calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, or up to 2.5 to 3:1 Ca:P. 

Additionally, we want to highlight that the phosphorus ratio should never be higher than the calcium ratio. Otherwise, owners should mix the foods to reach the ideal Ca:P balance.

2. Have regular wellness visits and yearly examinations with the veterinarians.

Veterinarians are animal doctors who are the best people lizard pet owners can discuss their iguana’s specific nutritional needs with. 

They can give the right recommendations regarding captive iguanas’ nutritional requirements, such as prescribing the correct multivitamin supplements, liquid vitamins, calcium supplements, calcium powder with vitamin D, and other essentials that iguanas should ingest to be healthy. 

3. Thoroughly wash all vegetables, fruits, legumes, and other foods.

Before feeding the iguanas, we advise owners to remove all pesticides and debris from the natural foods by washing them completely. We also want to point out that organic produce grown without potentially toxic chemicals, including pesticides, is best for iguanas. 

4. Carbohydrates-rich foods are not advisable for iguanas.

Carbohydrates-rich foods include pasta, bread, and cooked rice. They can result in obese iguanas, especially when they get overfed with these nutriments. 

We highly recommend iguana keepers stick to the highly vegetarian diet. In this manner, their tamed lizards will not become fat and unhealthy.

5. Feeding iguanas with bugs or meat is not an advisable practice.

Some owners feed their iguanas with meat or bugs, placing these foods on the feeder or reptile carpet for their lizard pets to relish. 

They want their iguanas to grow quickly, especially if the latter are still babies or juveniles. However, after just a few years of this unhealthy diet, these foods can cause kidney failure in domesticated reptiles.

We highly recommend that most protein-rich foods supplied to the iguanas come from vegetables to avoid potential health issues. Learning about what iguanas eat as pets certainly helps owners, especially novice ones, comprehend how to keep their domesticated lizards wholesome.

Keeping iguanas as pets can be challenging, especially without the aid of animal health experts and information from credible sources. 

Hence, we highly recommend that iguana keepers consult their veterinarians and regularly read online veterinarian-checked articles. These dependable sources of iguana health information can aid in ensuring and sustaining the tamed lizards’ wellness for the long haul.