Food and Diet

Iguana Food & Diet Reference Guide

Carrots and Celery being eaten by a pet iguana

Good news for reptile lovers that hate bugs - iguanidae happen to be herbivores, or vegan for short. This means that the reptiles love eating plants. In their natural habitat, the iguanidae survive on various types of foliage as well as the occasional fruit. Just because you don’t have to feed them bugs doesn’t mean that there isn’t some work involved with keeping them satiated though. Your pet needs to have a diet that is rotated to keep them in optimal health. A varied diet will allow them to ingest all the nutrients they need and would get in the wild. Plus, it keeps things interesting for your pals. This page will teach you:

  • The basics on iguana food groups
  • How to prepare your iguana's food
  • Answer common iguana feeding questions
  • AND MORE....

Table of Contents

How to Prepare Your Iguana’s Food

finely diced leafy vegetables in a bowl

Most of the time that you are feeding your pet reptile, you should lightly prepare the food for them. This is to make eating easier and safer. If there are any apples, butternut squash or carrots in the meal, they should also be peeled. You should always chop the food your pet is eating very finely or make sure that it is broken up into small pieces. Shredding the food also works well.

If the fruit or vegetable has a core, make sure it is removed before being fed to your pet. You need to be careful about your ig’s oxalate intake - this is why many items need to have their skins removed before being eaten. Smaller fruits can also be crushed to ease with digestion.

Make sure to take the seeds out of produce wherever possible as well before feeding time.

Fresh Vegetable Market

Greens

You want to have plenty of fresh greens in your iguana’s diet. Fresh is a key word here. Relying strictly on frozen or old greens is not going to provide the same nutritional value as using fresh produce. Greens should compose close to half of your ig’s food intake. There are a lot of good options when it comes to choosing which ones to include.

Go for organic if possible, but even if it is not an option, ALWAYS make sure that there are no pesticides or other toxic substances on the plant matter you feed your pet. Collard greens are a popular and good choice, but make sure to either get rid of or finely dice the stems. Collard greens are loaded with calcium, which your pet needs. Dandelion greens are another good choice, but the same concern for stems also applies. The flowers are fine for your pet to eat and are a good way to add some dietary variety. Continuing with the high calcium content is watercress. Again, make sure to either get rid of or chop the stems. Escarole, turnip greens and mustard greens all fall into the same category.

fresh escarole

Fresh Escarole

fresh organic collard greens

Fresh Organic Collard Greens

fresh organic turnip greens

Fresh Organic Turnip Greens

Kale, while very healthy for humans, should only be given occasionally to your pet. This is because it is high in goitrogens. Goitrogens can bind to the iodine in your pet’s diet and cause medical issues if their intake is too high.

Vegetables

You should include an equal amount of non-greens vegetables in your iguana’s diet as you do greens. These vegetables are usually more fibrous than greens and add a good amount of variety for when you feed your ig. Igs can be picky eaters and you need to make sure they are interested by what they are consuming.

Alfalfa is an awesome choice, and requires little to no preparation for feeding. Butternut squash is another choice for regular feeding, but must be prepared and broken down into bite size chunks with the cores removed. Bell peppers are a nice addition and should be prepared just like butternut squash. These have the added benefit of diversifying the coloration of your pet’s meals. Snow peas and snap peas can also be included without too much preparation necessary (they should be chopped though). Green beans are a popular choice and include a healthy amount of fiber. Make sure to chop these as well.

orange and yellow bell peppers

Orange and Yellow Bell Peppers

raw green beans

Raw Green Beans

sliced sweet potatoes

Sliced Sweet Potatoes

Peeled and diced sweet potatoes can also be a nice treat, but don’t feed these too frequently - they have a good bit of phosphorous which can be toxic in high amounts. And don’t forget the parsnip! While we don’t eat much of this as humans, it is a great addition to your reptile’s diet because of it’s high fiber content and the carbs that it provides.

Fruit

Fruit is totally safe to feed your iguana, but in moderation. A great way to add variety to your reptile’s diet and also reward them, is to use fruit as a treat. Even though it is soft, most fruits need to be diced or shredded before being fed to your pet. You can also use watery fruits to increase your iguana’s water intake. Some great options can include blueberries, grapes (high water content), mangos, bananas (the peel can be included if chopped), and melons. You want to be careful of citrus fruits though, because of their high acidity. While these can be fine every once in awhile, too many can upset your pet’s stomach.

Chopped up fresh honeydew and watermelon

Diced Honeydew and Watermelon

Grains

bowl full of cooked whole grain brown rice

Cooked Brown Rice

Cooked bread and other types of grain based food are safe for your iguana, but should make up a small percentage of their diet. Cooked brown and white rice are tasty, easy to digest treats for your pet. Cooked pasta is another option for special occasions or as a dessert - we’re big fans of chopped penne and igs love it too! Whole wheat bread is a favorite of many iguanidae, and it can be a useful way to disguise medications or supplements that your ig doesn’t particularly enjoy.

Commercial Iguana Food

There are also a number of commercially available iguana food preparations. Check out our post on the best iguana food for sale to learn about all of the different options and see side by side reviews and comparisons. It is important to remember though that these shouldn’t be used as a replacement for fresh greens and veggies for a long period of time. They can however, be great to give to a babysitter while you’re away on a trip or out of fresh vegetables. Make sure that you don’t rely too heavily on these, but always have some around for when necessary!

Common Diet Questions

Do Iguanas Eat Crickets?

While most reptiles eat a lot of insects, including crickets or mealworms, iguanas are completely herbivorous. This means that they don’t eat anything other than plants and vegetables. Being herbivorous, iguanas do not need a very large amount of protein to survive. The protein they do need, they get from their intake of vegetables and plants. Insects contain more protein than they need, and can actually be unhealthy for your pet. While some sources will claim it is safe to feed them crickets, in reality, there is no reason to ever feed your ig anything other than a completely herbivorous diet.

Can I feed my iguana meat?

There are claims that every once in awhile, wild iguanas will eat meat in the form of insects. This is thought to be something that happens purely accidentally though. Vegetarian raised iguanas are remarkably healthy, get all the nutrition they need and have no reason to ever be fed any type of animal protein, meat or otherwise. Feeding your pet meat can be bad for them, and it has be shown that igs who dine exclusively on a herbivorous diet live longer as well!

What do iguanas eat in the wild?

Since iguanas live in numerous rainforests from Mexico to Brazil, they thrive on nutritious plant life that exists in the area. They have been known to accidentally ingest insects while eating plants, like snails. They will eat flowers, foliage and many other varieties of plant life that is accessible to them high up in the trees where they spend the majority of their lives.