A Healthy Diet for Your Pet iguana

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.

Unfortunately, most people don’t feed their iguana a healthy diet and as a result their pet actually starves of nutrients, getting sick, and eventually dying prematurely because of it. As an iguana care giver, it’s your responsibility to become knowledgeable about your pet and to understand its dietary requirements.

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 (collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion, etc.)
  • 30% bright colored vegetables (squash, green beans, peas, green pepper, etc.)
  • 10% fruit (strawberries, banana, raspberries, grapes, mango, apple, etc.)

You should try to feed your iguana a variety of foods and avoid sticking to only a couple 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.

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 iguanas diet and cause your pet to suffer nutritional deficiencies. The following list of foods contain 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 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

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.

Overfeeding

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!’ 🙂

I am the editor-in-chief at MyPetReptiles.com. I have been a reptile enthusiast for over a decade, and during this time I have kept and bred a variety of different reptiles such as bearded dragons, geckos, and chameleons. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience with others to help them provide the best care possible for their pet reptiles.

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