Iguana lizards are no doubt a striking pet with very fantastic looks. Their appearance has earned them popularity as pets in a lot of households.
They are one pet every reptile enthusiast desires to have.
Like any other pet, to keep them happy and even more – healthy, their diet must be given utmost attention. At this point, you’re probably asking: what does iguanas eat?
As you read further this post, I will attempt to answer this question in as detail as possible.
What Do Iguanas Eat?
Iguanas naturally occur in rainforest regions, where you have plenty of plants and leaves. It is only expected that, even in captivity, these conditions, and diet be replicated as much as possible for their optimal survival.
Simply put, they are herbivores and thus feed on vegetables, greens, fruits, and flowers.
No need for many worries when it comes to the diet of iguanas; compared to most species and types of lizards, their diets are a lot narrower.
There may be a slight variation between the requirements of the various types, but they all center on herbs and plant matter. Occasionally, there are alterations that may be necessary.
In more details, foods fed to iguanas should include, but not limited to, the following:
This is one of the basic sources of food for iguanas. Among the most preferred greens for iguanas are bokchoy, dandelions, clover, collard greens, watercress, collard greens, Swiss chard, and turnip tops.
It is important that you are aware of the quality of the greens you provide to your pet. You should make sure that they are free of chemicals and pesticides. This can be done by soaking them in a solution of water and vinegar (in the proportion of 4:1).
Or, and if possible, you want to grow your green by yourself. This way, you can ensure that there are no harmful chemicals.
If growing the greens is not possible, make sure to get them direct from the farmer’s market. This way, it is somewhat organic as well.
More than just greens, your iguana needs vegetables.
Among the various options of diet, leafy green vegetables are the most consumed, even though they can also go with some yellow, orange, and red vegetables.
It is important that vegetables that contain phosphorus and calcium in the ratio 1:2 should be given priority.
Vegetables to consider include celery greens, clover, collard greens, Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, watercress, cilantro, and parsley.
In all these, there are some vegetables that should be avoided as even though they may be rich in fiber, they are deficient in nutrients. A perfect example is iceberg lettuce.
Fruits can also be given to iguanas, but should only make up a small proportion or percentage of the diet – say between 10-20%.
Iguanas love fruits, even though scientifically, they don’t offer substantial nutritional value.
They especially love it when the fruits are tasty. Only a handful of them contain many nutrients needed by your reptilian buddy.
Fruits are to be considered as a treat or salad/top dressing when compared to other dietary sources such as vegetables. Avoid fruit diet on a daily basis as it can cause diarrhea for your pet.
You should avoid fruits such as rhubarb and starfruit, as they are high in calcium oxalate.
Flowers are also another diet you should consider offering to your iguana. In their natural habitat, this accounts for about 20% of their everyday diet and should as much as possible be replicated in captivity.
Or, flowers can be used as a treat for your iguanas, but in my opinion, these treats should be as regular as possible.
Flowers you want to look out for include: carnations, hibiscus, roses, dandelions, and geraniums. You can easily grow these flowers at home or get them from flower shops.
But, go for those that without chemicals either sprayed on them or put in their water.
5. Commercial Food
An alternative you can consider for your pet’s diet is commercial pellets.
Beware of some products that will be falsely marketed as being healthy and nutritious by checking if they are void of unsuitable ingredients such as animal protein.
They can come in dry or wet form; if dry, try to moist them to avoid dehydrating your pet. You should look out for iguana pellets that have plant meals such as dried fruits, carrots, mustard greens, and Lima beans.
You also want to avoid those with fillers (such as corn), artificial flavors, and colors. Furthermore, you should feed your iguanas with commercial food occasionally and not as a primary source of food for them.
It is essential to include supplements in your iguana’s diet. They go a long way to ensure that your pet gets all his necessary minerals and vitamins.
You can sprinkle them onto their food, and indeed you should buy in small amounts, though.
A major supplement to look out for is calcium. You can also add vitamin D3 supplements. Generally, supplements should be given in moderation—between 2-3 times a week is fine. When consumed too much, they can harm your pets.
Foods to Avoid
A lot has been said about foods you should feed to your iguanas, and indeed the list is long.
Let us briefly list out in detail foods you should as much as possible ensure your iguanas do not eat.
Here is a list of the basic foods your iguanas should not consume and why.
- Animal proteins put a huge strain on the kidneys and liver
- Tofu is high in fat
- Broccoli and kale put a lot of stress on iguana’s thyroid
- Parsley and spinach inhibits calcium
- Lettuces have no value to offer in terms of nutrition
- Fruits with high acidic content
- Plants that are toxic and poisonous
- Insect are generally not recommended
How To Feed Iguanas
Iguanas are tree-dwelling animals, remember? That implies that they need a strictly vegetarian diet for optimal survival. Much more than the foods, are the ways you administer them to your pets.
1. Size Considerations
As is typical of reptiles, the size of food consumption is very important. They are not designed to chew foods before it gets down to their digestive tract, they swallow their foods; hence the size moderation.
As a rule of thumb, each piece of food should be sized proportionally to the space between their eyes. Anything more than this can lead to certain health consequences.
2. Dieting Frequency
Unlike most types of lizards, it is essential that you feed your iguanas on a daily basis. Plus, most food should be administered in the morning.
But, their feeding schedules may differ according to their ages. There are adult iguanas that can withstand hunger, but should not be kept hungry for more than a day.
This measure should only be taken when necessary – say when you want to introduce a new food. As for juvenile and baby iguanas, you have to feed them every day.
3. Diet Variety
Iguanas have the tendency of easily developing a liking for specific foods. If fed too much of a particular food, they are most likely to be picky eaters of such foods only and neglect every other food.
For this reason, you want to make sure you mix up their food as often as possible. This is obviously healthy because different types of diets bring different types of nutrients to the table.
No one food can provide all nutrients required by your pet.
Additionally, feeding iguanas varieties of greens, vegetables, and fruits help to reduce the risk of a devastating illness caused by poor nutrition known as metabolic bone disease.
Final Words On What Do Iguanas Eat
Reproducing iguanas diet in captivity sometimes can prove challenging. If you desire for them to live happily and long, it is worth the effort.
As herbivores, their diet centers on vegetables, greens, fruits, and flowers. These foods should always be provided fresh and clean.
If there are leftovers in their bowls, get rid of them as soon as possible. Don’t forget to make clean and freshwater available every day.
Like every other animal and reptile, iguanas need lots of chlorine-free and hygienic water.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and it proves to be valuable in identifying the right diet for your iguana pet.
If you have any questions or contributions you want to ask or make, kindly drop them in the comment section below. I’ll be more than glad to respond as soon as possible.
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