What Do Iguanas Eat?

Iguanas are herbivores that eat plants in order to grow & thrive, or more specifically – they are folivores. Folivores are herbivore species that specialize in eating leaves, and their internal organs are designed to do so in the most efficient way. For this reason, pet owners have to pay special attention to their Iguana’s nutritional needs.

Iguanas are one of the most unique pets out there, and as a pet owner, you’re guaranteed to have a lot of fun with these amazing creatures. However, the most difficult part about owning Iguana is having to deal with the little things such as nutrition and choosing the best foods for your pet. But worry not…

We’re here to guide you on the best way to feed your Iguana, so all of your pet’s nutritional needs are covered in full.

In this article, we are going to cover these questions:

  • What Iguanas Eat
  • Why is Proper Nutrition Important for Iguanas?
  • Nutritional Needs of Your Iguanas
  • Best Food Choices for Your Pet
  • Should You Use Commercial Food?
  • How Often Should You Feed Your Iguana
  • And a few more…!

Why is Proper Nutrition Important for Iguanas? 

A iguana eating a cactus

As mentioned earlier, Iguanas are folivores that eat mostly leaves to satisfy their nutritional needs. This means they require a specific diet to thrive and develop fully. However, there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to Iguana pets and their diets.

With so much misinformation, pets all around the world suffer from diet-induced diseases that could be easily prevented. For example, many people claim that Iguanas should be fed with insects and dog food, but this is very wrong and harmful for your pet.

To have a healthy Iguana pet, you should know some basic things about their nutritional needs.

Iguana Nutritional Needs

In their natural environment, Iguanas are mostly living by eating leaves, flowers and occasional fruits. This is what their body is built to do, so they make sure to take full advantage of that. However, domesticated Iguanas are often fed a variety of different foods, and they get used to it. While they won’t have problems getting such foods to their digestive system, it doesn’t mean that you should keep feeding them in this way.

Iguana eating a flower
Iguana eating a flower Source

Iguanas are simple creatures who develop habits and stick to them, and it’s your duty as a pet owner to make sure your pet develop only the best habits.

As for their nutritional needs, Iguanas are perfectly capable of getting all that’s necessary for their growth by merely eating plant-based food. Their needs mainly consist of vitamins/minerals, and unlike other reptiles, they do not require a lot of proteins to grow properly. Iguanas are especially in need of Calcium, and they can be quite sensitive to Vitamin D and Phosphorous, so make sure that diet is balanced with high Ca levels compared to the other two.

For these reasons, you should do your best to make sure your Iguana pet is getting most of the required vitamins and minerals. The best way you can do this is to provide them with fresh, properly prepared food that your pet can fully enjoy and make use of.

Best Food Choices for Your Iguana

When it comes to feeding your Iguana, you should focus on meals in these 3 categories:

  1. Greens
  2. Vegetables
  3. Fruits

Greens should cover most of your pet’s diet. However, you should also provide your Iguana with some vegetables and fruits as well. With that in mind, Iguanas diet should consist of more than 70% greens, and the rest should be filled with vegetables, and some fruits can also be used occasionally but not too much – about 10% only.

Specific Foods & Preparation

For greens, you should use: collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, kale, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli. All of these choices are extremely healthy and good for your Iguana.

For vegetables, you may use carrots, beans, peas, peppers, cucumber, mushrooms, squash.

What About Frozen Vegetables?

Although it’s always a great idea to use fresh food, you can also use some frozen vegetables from time to time. They have less nutritional value compared to fresh vegetables, but they can save you a lot of that preparation time and even money. Just make sure you don’t abuse this option. For pet iguanas, frozen food is okay, but you should always strive to use fresh vegetables, whenever possible. Frozen food should be prepared and warmed up before being offered to your pet.

Fruits can be given as a treat, but they lack minerals compared to other choices. That’s why they should be kept to a minimum. You can mix up your pet’s diet with some strawberries, bananas, apples, peaches, mango, blueberries, kiwi any many more.

Make sure all food is minced to little pieces before your Iguana eats it. This is a very important step as large food can cause a lot of problems for your pet. You should invest some time in preparing the perfect meal for your Iguana by chopping & shredding these vegetables & greens to small pieces so your pet can fully enjoy its meal without having troubles digesting it.

Iguana Water Needs

Iguanas, just like many of us, need water to survive. However, they fill most of their water requirements from foods. Fresh food is especially rich in water, and it’ll make sure your pet always has enough to satisfy its needs. Additionally, you can also spray some water on the food to make sure it’s moisty.

On top of all this, you should have a water dish available for your pet at all times. The water dish should always contain fresh water, so make sure you refill it every day. Also, it’s a good idea to have a heavy, unmovable dish to make sure the water doesn’t spill.

What About Commercial Food?

While not ideal, commercial pellet food for iguanas is still a viable choice. These foods can contain some useful vitamins & minerals that can be of a good use to your pet. However, commercial food should rarely be used and if you do decide to do so, make sure it’s less than 20% of total food your pet consumes.

Pellets for iguanas should always be mixed with real food, and make sure you keep a decent 5 to 1 balance when doing so. Commercial food can be a great choice if you’re looking to spare some time and money, but as we said – it’s not ideal, so try to stay away from it.

What About Supplements?

Supplements for iguanas are not necessary, but they can also be of use. Your pet should have all of its nutritional needs covered from real foods, but there can always be something lacking, it happens. That’s why you can use some supplements to make sure everything is ticked. In most cases, you want to use multivitamin to cover those needs. Iguana supplements are sprinkled on top of meals, just make sure you don’t use too much!

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to consult your local veterinarian before using any pet food supplements.

How often should you feed your pet Iguana?

This is always a tricky question as it depends on what stage of life your pet is. If your Iguana is still young, you should feed it twice a day, with decent meals that are properly prepared. Babies can struggle to eat some food, especially if it’s not properly minced.

As for the adults, Iguanas can be fed once a day with smaller meals, or every other day with larger.

Before feeding your pet, make sure all food is washed thoroughly, minced and then properly mixed together to make sure your pet can get the most out of it.