Do Iguanas have Teeth? The Surprising Dental Anatomy of Iguanas

Do iguanas have teeth is a question that seems to continually appears on forums, usually from new iguana owners or someone who is thinking of obtaining an Iguana. So just to confirm the fact, just like other reptiles such as lizards, snakes, turtles, or even crocodilians, iguanas also have a set of very sharp teeth.

In this post, we are going to answer a number of questions related to iguana teeth such as are baby iguanas born with teeth? How strong an iguana’s jaws are? Do iguanas use their teeth to bite, and how troublesome is their bite? This post is for you if you own a pet iguana, planning on getting one, or simply admire them as animals.

What Kind of Teeth Do Iguanas Have?


There are three types of reptile teeth; thecodont, acrodont, or pleurodont. All species of iguanas including the green iguana and the majority of lizards in general have pleurodont teeth.

I know, the term “pleurodont” might sound like it came straight out of a dinosaur documentary, but it simply refers to teeth that have shallow attachments to the jaw’s surface. These teeth don’t grow from the deep sockets like our own human teeth. Instead, they cling rather precariously to the edge of the jaw, almost like they are hanging on for dear life!

The coolest part about pleurodont teeth is their ‘revolving door’ policy. Over time, as these teeth wear down, they’re replaced with new, sharper ones that grow directly behind and underneath the old. It’s a bit like a continuous assembly line, always churning out newer, sharper teeth!

Iguanas have between 80 and 120 of these razor-sharp teeth at any given time. That’s a crowded mouth, isn’t it? If you’re having trouble picturing this, just think of a steak knife’s serrated edge. Imagine these tiny, serrated, diamond-shaped teeth arranged in neat, uniform rows in an iguana’s jaws.

But don’t let the numbers mislead you. These aren’t random teeth of various sizes and shapes like we have (you know, our mix of molars, incisors, and so on). No, iguanas are much more consistent. Every single tooth, whether it’s located at the front or back of their jaws, is the same size and shape. While it might seem a bit primitive, these teeth are incredibly sharp and specialized, perfectly designed for their job of tearing apart plants and insects.

Do Baby Iguanas Have Teeth?


Baby iguanas are born with fully formed teeth, ready to take on the challenges of the world from the moment they hatch. Baby iguanas’ teeth play a crucial role from the very beginning of their life.

Baby iguanas use their teeth to break out of their eggs, beginning their life in the wild or in a loving home with a show of strength. Their teeth are not just for show, however.

Right from birth, iguanas, whether herbivorous or omnivorous, use their teeth to eat plants and sometimes insects. This is a vital survival skill, as iguanas receive little to no parental assistance and need to start fending for themselves immediately.

The teeth of baby iguanas, although smaller than those of adults, grow quickly and are surprisingly durable. This is nature’s way of ensuring their survival – as soon as their first set of teeth begin to wear down within the first few months of life, a new set is already growing in to replace them.

Depending on their species and diet, iguanas can replace dozens or even hundreds of teeth within their first year!

These teeth are situated on the inner sides of the jawbones which may be why they are more difficult to see especially in smaller Iguanas (also they have a transparency to them).

Despite their size, these teeth are as sharp as they come, a tool for self-defense if the situation arises. Although, like many young ones, baby iguanas prefer the safety of speed, more likely to dash away from danger rather than confront it.

Do Iguanas Have Strong Jaws?

Iguanas have some of the strongest jaws within the entire Reptilia class, next to perhaps crocodilians and monitors. Their strong jaws allow them to tear apart and chew a wide variety of vegetation, including leaves, flowers, and even some fruits that other animals might struggle with.

Interestingly, the strength of an iguana’s jaws is not only significant for their dietary habits, but it also has an important impact on their behavior. For instance, male iguanas often display a form of jaw-clapping behavior, which involves rapidly opening and closing their mouth. This act, facilitated by their strong jaws, serves as a warning signal to potential predators and rivals.

Their jaws, despite their evident strength, are not designed to harm humans. Iguanas are generally peaceful creatures, and biting is typically their last resort when they feel threatened or cornered. However, due to the powerful nature of their jaws, an iguana bite can be very painful.

Never underestimate the damage a fully grown Iguana can inflict when in a breeding season fixation! even smaller young Iguanas can inflict a nasty flesh wound but large males can tear flesh with the result being a need for stitches or even surgery!


Yes, indeed, iguanas do have teeth. Not just simple ones, but uniquely pleurodont teeth that are firmly affixed to the top of their jaws—a feature distinct to them and a few other reptile species.

Baby iguanas are equipped with these teeth, ready to explore their world and begin their dietary journey. The strength of iguana jaws, a fact that adds a surprising dimension to their seemingly docile nature, reiterates the evolutionary brilliance of these creatures.

Undeniably, iguanas can and will bite, but with our newfound understanding, we can approach this fact not with fear, but with an informed respect for their natural instincts.

Filled under: Lizards

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