What Do Iguanas Eat? A Healthy Diet for Your Pet Iguana

Like humans, iguanas can’t thrive on just any food; they need a balanced diet to keep them healthy and happy. Being herbivores, our green friends require a diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens.

The type and quality of food we offer them can significantly impact their growth, lifespan, and even their temperament.

A diet lacking variety can also lead to malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies, which could result in stunted growth, weak bones, and other health problems like metabolic bone disease.

What Do Iguanas Eat in the Wild

In the wild, iguanas are primarily herbivores, meaning they feed mostly on plants. Imagine an iguana, perched high in the canopies of a tropical rainforest, basking in the sun while nibbling on leaves, blossoms, and fruits around it. That’s their usual dining scene! Their favorites? Well, they have a particular fondness for the leaves and flowers of certain trees, like the wild plum and hibiscus.

Yet, iguanas are not just leaf-chompers. They’re also known to munch on mosses, lichens, and even algae. Now, isn’t that an eclectic diet? Some iguanas, like the marine iguana, have developed a taste for underwater algae and seaweed—a testament to their adaptability.

It’s important to remember that while the iguanas are vegetarian, they’re not strict about it. They won’t hesitate to eat an occasional slow-moving invertebrate like a snail or an insect. However, this is usually not a significant part of their diet, more like a little unexpected dessert!

What Do Pet Iguanas Eat?


Feeding your pet iguana, a healthy diet is the most important thing you can do to make sure your little friend stays healthy and lives a long life. The only thing that comes close in importance is providing the right lighting and heat.

Iguanas are strictly raw vegans and there should be no exceptions to that. Your pet may seem to like eating a slice of pizza with you or snacking on potato chips, but if you give that to them they are going to get sick. They may not show you that they’re sick — they’re very good at hiding this — but that ’spoiling’ of your pet will eventually spoil them to death. Please don’t do this to your pet iguana, it is irresponsible and unhealthy.

Your iguana will thrive on plenty of fresh leafy greens and vegetables with occasional fruit as a treat. The oldest and healthiest iguanas never eat anything else and live a long time, up to 29 years.

Your iggy will require a lot of variety though, but luckily the produce section is full of good options that you can mix and match to keep it interesting and nutritional.

A healthy diet for an iguana:

  • 60% dark leafy greens
  • 30% bright-colored vegetables
  • 10% fruit

What Greens Can Iguana Eat?

Greens should form the core of your iguana’s diet. 60% of your iguana diet should be leafy greens. Here are some of iguana favorite greens:

  • Collard greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Watercress
  • Parsley

These greens are packed with essential nutrients and low in calories, they are to an iguana what a well-rounded salad is to us!

What Vegetables Can Iguana Eat?

Vegetables also play a crucial part in their diet. 30% of an iguana diet should consist of bright colored veggies. Here are a few vegetables that your iguana will love:

  • Squash
  • Green beans
  • Green pepper
  • Bell peppers
  • Peas
  • Okra
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Pumpkin

What Fruits Can an Iguana Eat?

Fruits, which should be about 10% of their diet, are also a necessary addition to an iguana diet. Some fruits you can feed your iguana include:

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Melons

Remember to mix them in sparingly, though – fruits should be the dessert, not the main course!

Occasional Treats

Finally, the occasional treats like flowers, cooked pasta or rice, and even a bit of bread can be offered. Just be sure not to overdo it, these are treats, not staples!

The following list of foods contains stuff that is not good for your iguana in large amounts or on a regular basis, but you may add one of these ingredients to meals a couple of times a month in small quantities for variety.

Once in a while foods:

  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Beets
  • Rhubarb
  • Whole grains
  • Beet greens
  • Dock
  • Sorrel
  • Carrot tops
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok Choy

You should try to feed your iguana a variety of foods and avoid sticking to only a couple of different types of food. The idea is to give them enough of a variety of nutrient-dense foods to make sure they get everything they need.

Iguanas come from a tropical environment far from captivity where they feast all day long on a variety of different leaves and berries. The kind of stuff that we don’t have access to at the local grocery store or farmers’ market. This means that we have to do our best to give our pets the nutrition they require by providing a variety of different nutrient-packed meals.

How Often Should I Feed My Iguana?

Feeding frequency, especially, can have a significant impact on the iguana’s health and growth. It’s vital to understand that as your iguana buddy grows from a tiny hatchling to a majestic adult, their dietary needs and feeding frequency change. So let’s dive in!

Table: Iguana Feeding Frequency

Iguana AgeFeeding Frequency
Baby Iguana3-4 times a day
Juvenile Iguana2-3 times a day
Adult IguanaOnce a day

Baby Iguanas (0-1 year old): These little critters have a fast metabolism and need a lot of food to support their rapid growth. Feeding them 3-4 times a day with a diet rich in leafy greens, vegetables, and a bit of fruit will ensure they grow strong and healthy.

Juvenile Iguanas (1-3 years old): As your iguana enters the ‘teen’ phase, their metabolism slows down a bit, and so does the feeding frequency. Twice or thrice daily feeding is enough for them. Make sure each meal is filled with the right proportion of greens, vegetables, and fruits.

Adult Iguanas (3+ years old): Once your iguana reaches adulthood, their growth slows down significantly. A well-balanced meal once a day is enough to keep them healthy and satisfied. Remember, a diet primarily made up of leafy greens is key.

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines and individual iguanas may have slightly different feeding schedules. It’s always best to observe your pet’s eating habits and adjust the feeding frequency if needed. Also, feeding should typically occur during daylight hours, when iguanas are most active.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements


Well, just like us humans, iguanas need a balanced diet to ensure they are getting all the necessary nutrients for their body to function optimally. Despite our best efforts to provide them with a diverse diet, it can be challenging to meet all their nutritional needs through food alone. That’s where supplements come in!

Now, what specific vitamins and minerals are vital for our iguana buddies? Two of the most important ones are calcium and vitamin D3.

Calcium is crucial for bone health, muscle function, and various metabolic processes. Vitamin D3, on the other hand, aids in the absorption of calcium and helps with bone development and growth. Without enough of these two nutrients, iguanas can develop serious health issues such as Metabolic Bone Disease.

Fortunately, these essential nutrients can easily be incorporated into our iguana’s diet through food or supplements. Offering a variety of dark leafy greens, vegetables, and occasional fruits rich in calcium and limiting foods that can interfere with calcium absorption is a good start. However, to ensure your iguana is getting adequate amounts of these crucial nutrients, especially vitamin D3, which can be hard to obtain from food alone, supplementing is a smart choice.

When it comes to supplements, I personally recommend products like Repti Calcium with D3 and Reptivite. They’re easy to use – just dust them over your iguana’s food, and they’ll gobble it up without even noticing! But remember, not all products are created equal, so always choose brands with good reputations and preferably those vet recommended.

Iguanas don’t need a heap of vitamins and minerals all at once, but rather smaller, regular doses. But keep in mind that the frequency can depend on the iguana’s age, overall health, and specific dietary needs.

Here’s a basic guideline to give you an idea:

Age GroupVitamin & Mineral Supplement FrequencyApproximate Quantity
Baby IguanaDailyLight Dusting
Juvenile IguanaEvery other dayModerate Dusting
Adult Iguana2-3 times a weekHeavy Dusting

Babies and juveniles are growing rapidly, and they need a consistent supply of nutrients, hence the daily and alternate day feeding of supplements. Once your iguana reaches adulthood, the frequency can be reduced to a couple of times a week as their growth rate slows down.

However, remember, this is a general guideline. You may need to adjust based on your iguana’s specific needs. For instance, if your iguana is pregnant or recovering from an illness, she might need more frequent supplements. Always monitor your pet’s health, consult with a vet if needed, and adjust their supplement schedule accordingly.

It’s essential to be aware of potential risks when using supplements. Over-supplementation can cause just as many issues as a deficiency, like kidney stones or other health issues. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dosage, and when in doubt, consult with a reptile vet.

Iguana Water Requirement

The role of hydration in an iguana’s overall health is paramount. A well-hydrated iguana has better digestion, healthier skin, and is generally more active. They’re happier too, trust me on that!

Now, you might be asking, how do I know if my iguana is dehydrated? It’s a great question and something that every iguana owner needs to be aware of. Dehydrated iguanas may have dry, flaky skin, sunken eyes, and reduced activity levels. They might also lose their appetite.

If you notice these signs, it’s important to address the issue right away to prevent serious health problems. But don’t worry, I’ll give you some tips to prevent this from happening in the first place.

Ensuring your iguana is properly hydrated involves a little more than just leaving a bowl of water in their enclosure, although that’s definitely part of it. Here are a few practical tips:

  1. Provide a large shallow water dish: Iguanas don’t only drink water, they also love to soak in it. Make sure the dish is big enough for your iguana to climb in, but not so deep that they could potentially drown.
  2. Change the water regularly: Just like us, iguanas prefer clean, fresh water. Try to change the water in the dish daily, or as soon as you notice it becoming dirty.
  3. Mist your iguana: Another effective way to hydrate your iguana is by misting them with a spray bottle. Most iguanas enjoy this and it can be a fun bonding activity for you and your pet.
  4. Feed hydrating foods: Many fruits and vegetables have high water content and can contribute to your iguana’s hydration. Leafy greens, cucumbers, and melons are all great choices. Remember, variety is key!

There’s a common misconception that iguanas get all the water they need from their food. While it’s true that iguanas can obtain some hydration this way, it’s not enough. They still need a regular source of fresh water for drinking and soaking.

What Not to Feed an Iguana?

Do not feed iguanas any animal products or processed junk. Nothing with processed sugars, grains, or animal proteins at all. Bread can be fed to your iguana only as a method of delivering medication such as a de-wormer. Avoid anything that has been cooked or heated.

Do not feed your iguana dog or cat food. That’s stupid.

Even though they are considered raw vegan foods, there are still some foods you should watch out for. You should avoid all types of lettuce because they are mostly water and don’t provide any nutrition for your pet.

Don’t give your pet a lot of food with oxalates and/or phytates or goitrogens. These molecules can bind up some of the nutrients (calcium, iodine) in your iguana’s diet and cause your pet to suffer nutritional deficiencies.

The Calcium: Phosphorus Balance

Iguanas need their ratio of Calcium: Phosphorus to be 2:1. There are some foods that can very quickly throw your iguanas balance out of wack. These foods should be avoided completely.

Avoid these foods completely:

  • Corn
  • Yams
  • Potato
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Commercial or store bought ‘iguana food’

Do not feed your pet commercial iguana food. It’s very simple — they’re no good. None of them.

I used Zoo-Med’s ranted and raved about Iguana Food for a brief while when I first got my iguana. I thought it was a good choice because it was the only store-bought iguana food I could find that wasn’t all corn and other crap that’s no good for your pet. She seemed to like the little pellets and I saw her drinking water from her water dish so I thought she was healthy. Then she stopped pooping for a month!

The food was too dry and had compacted in her belly. I’m lucky she is still alive after that! It was a good thing that I started feeding her a bunch of really moist leafy greens when I realized what was happening or she might not be big and healthy today!

The moral of the story is to feed your iguana the right way. Don’t be lazy and try feeding your pet some store-bought junk, that’s not what they need. Your pet iguana needs a big old salad every single day, and they don’t like to get bored, so switch it up and be creative! They love bright colors and shapes, but sometimes they can be picky if they don’t like the look of a new food they’ve never seen before.

Preparing Meals

Always remember to wash your iguana’s food (as well as your own) very well before serving it. Most of the fresh produce we buy has been sprayed with all sorts of toxic chemicals to keep pests away and as fertilizer — these chemicals are dangerous and harmful! Always wash thoroughly!

Chop your iguana’s food into bits that are no wider than the space between your iguana’s eyes when you look at them from above. Doing this will make sure that your iguana does not choke or try to eat pieces that are too big.

Food should be served as close to room temperature as possible, cold or warm foods are not recommended by me.

You might find it useful to prepare large batches of food that will last several days instead of prepping food every day. I try to prepare 3- or 4-days worth of food at a time and put it in a clean container in the fridge until next use. This saves time and is handy on days when you’re running late or don’t have time to prep a meal.


As long as you’re feeding the right stuff there is no fear of overfeeding your iguana. Give it as much as it will eat. Your pet will not get overweight or unhealthy by eating too many leafy greens and vegetables. They will put on weight, bulk up, and get beefy — but that’s their ultimate goal in life! A big iguana is usually a healthy iguana. So, don’t worry about overfeeding — if your iguana wants to eat more, then give it more!

I try to make sure that My iguana has got some food out all the time in case she gets the munchies. Sometimes I’ll even hear her eating in the middle of the night when she’s supposed to be sleeping — ‘Just grabbing’ a midnight snack!’

Are animal-based protein foods appropriate for my iguana?

Iguanas are not designed to process animal protein efficiently. That’s right, the little steak tidbit might be a tantalizing treat for your canine companion, but for our iguana friends, it could spell trouble. Too much animal protein can lead to kidney problems, and we definitely don’t want that.

Filled under: Lizards

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