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Iguana Diet

How And What To Feed Green Iguanas

Iguana Diet

Iguanas are herbivores, or as some like to say, folivores. All this means is that they eat plants. There are still a few stragglers out there who haven't done their research and still believe that iguanas eat insects because they read it somewhere. In the wild it is about survival of the fittest. To say that wild iguanas didn't occasionally ingest an insect would be ignorant. Many iguanas have ingested insects as they have fed on vegetation, flowers or when food sources were low. The problem is that iguanas are not designed to digest animal protein, which is why they do not go out and seek animal protein as part of their regular diet. Our Animal Protein page offers a greater understanding as to why iguanas shouldn't be fed animal protein and how it slowly kills them.

If you wish to keep your iguana healthy, don't feed animal protein and stick to the guidelines listed on this page. Your iguana is a vegetarian by design and its diet should reflect this.

Diet Ratios

Iguanas are complex reptiles. Although you can't go to the local store and purchase what they would eat in the wild, you can purchase a variety of foods at your local market that will meet their nutritional needs.

Iguanas require an approximate 2:1 ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus in their diet. This simply means that their intake of calcium and phosphorus should equal out to approximately 2 parts Calcium to 1 part Phosphorus.

Many individuals that are educated on iguanas focus solely upon this rule and find themselves lacking other important vitamins and minerals. So when planning your diet, use the rule of 2 CA:1 PH, but be sure that they are getting their vitamins and minerals as well by adding the suggested vegetables and fruits. You need to remember that your iguana diet should be primarily made up of the greens. the vegetables, fruits and supplements you use are designed to make sure they are enjoying a well rounded diet.

The diet below is the basis for what I fed my iguanas when I owned them. It is not exactly what they ate daily because as I instruct others, variety is the key to longevity. They would eat this particular version 3-4 days a week with the occasional items being added and removed intermittently. I would constructively create varying versions using the lists below if I still owned iguanas. These, however, are the same foods I do feed my bearded dragon.

Diet Contents

(All fruits and vegetables are fresh and washed thoroughly.)

Collard Greens - 1/2 cup chopped
Mustard Greens - 1/2 cup chopped
Turnip Greens - 1/2 cup chopped
Swiss Chard - (1/2 cup chopped - occasionally)
Spinach - (1/2 cup chopped - occasionally)
Watercress - 1/2 cup chopped
Celery - 1/2 cup chopped
Winter Squash (orange) ( minced into small cubes or shredded)
(banana, acorn, kabocha, and pumpkin are good squashes)
Navel Orange (sliced then chopped into small sections)
Red Apple (sliced then chopped into small sections)
Banana (chopped into small sections - occasionally)
* I used alfalfa pellets in my diet because that was available at the time. There are many supplements for humans that are alfalfa based and those can be used. Pills should be crushed up into a powder using a pill grinder or you could even use the capsules, which are already crushed. Just open the pill and sprinkle it on the salad. Human supplements are cleaner than those made for animals and are preferable over the rabbit pellets for their palatability.

I know that for some people, this may seem like an incredibly expensive diet. Let me assure you that it isn't. Depending upon where you live, these items should cost you no more than $13. That is a very small price to pay to ensure your Iguana of his health and well being. Is this diet perfect? I doubt it. Is there a diet that is perfect online? No. I can say no with

Malnutrition

Variety is the key to longevity. Many people put themselves in a position where they solely focus on the ratios of calcium to phosphorus and forget that other nutrients are required as well. Iguanas in the wild do not know what the ratios for the foods that they eat. They eat the plants that keep them healthy and that diet varies as they consume different plants, containing different nutrients. People see that collard greens are good for their iguana and suddenly their iguana is eating collard greens every day for the week until they are gone. Perhaps you throw a carrot in the mix or some fruit or vegetable and the iguana readily eats it. You are slowly killing your iguana through malnutrition.

We all know that carrots, peas, apples and asparagus are good for humans. They contain nutrients that our bodies need. If we were to eat these items daily for a prolonged period of time, we would die from malnutrition. While these food items are good for us, there just isn't enough variety here to offer us enough nutrients to sustain us. This is also true for your iguana. Your iguana needs a varied diet. They need a multitude of food items because they all have compositional differences in the nutrients they offer. The idea behind offering a 2:1 ration is a guideline because phosphorus inhibits the metabolism of calcium. Trying to maintain a 2:1 ratio ensures that the amount of phosphorus isn't neutralizing the amount of calcium the iguana is ingesting. Iguanas are herbivores. Processing plant matter is tedious work and most of the nutrients are never extracted. It is believed that iguanas only extract around 40% of the actual nutrients they ingest. You should make a valiant attempt at creating different salads for your iguana daily. These salads can include items from the day before but they should contain a variation. Below is a list of good food items that can be used with your iguana. They are itemized for how often they should be used.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green Leafy Vegetables

Daily Greens

The greens listed below are ideal foods that can be offered daily. One or more of these greens should be added to each salad you offer to your iguana. Rotating through these greens will help offer your iguana a varied diet. A varied diet will ensure you are offering as many nutrients to your iguana as you can and will help deter your iguana from becoming a picky eater.

  • Collard Greens
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Mustard Greens
  • Turnip Greens
  • Watercress

Occasional Greens

The following greens should be offered no more than 2 times per week. These greens have a composition that may be high in phosphorus, low in calcium or they may contain goitrogens or high oxalates. Restricting the consumption of these foods will allow their beneficial parts to be eaten while not allowing the negative parts to consume the diets nutrition base.

  • Arugula
  • Chard
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Spinach

Avoided Greens

The following greens should be avoided and never offered to your iguana as they contain dangerous levels of goitrogens, oxalates or simply contain very little nutrition. With the better options above, there is no justifiable reason to purchase these items for your iguana.

  • Bok Choy
  • Butterhead - Boston Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Romaine Lettuce

Greens Nutritional Content

Additional information on the greens listed above can be found here:

Greens Nutritional Content

Mixed Vegetables

Mixed Vegetables

Daily Vegetables

The vegetables listed below are ideal foods that can be offered daily. One or more of these vegetables can be added to each salad you offer to your iguana. Rotating through these veggies will help offer your iguana a more diverse diet. Squashes are best offered shredded while other vegetables can be finely chopped.

Note: All vegetables should be raw unless otherwise noted.

  • Acorn Squash
  • Butternut Squash
  • Green - String Beans (raw)
  • Kabocha Squash
  • Parsnip

Occasional Vegetables

The following vegetables should be limited to 2-3 times per week. In moderation the following vegetables make wonderful additions to your iguanas salad. These vegetables should be shredded or finely chopped.

Note: All vegetables should be raw unless otherwise noted.

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Green Peppers
  • Red Peppers
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Yams
  • Yellow Peppers

Avoided Vegetables

The following vegetables should be avoided and never offered to your iguana as they contain very little nutrition or are listed as being toxic when consumed.

  • Avocado
  • Corn
  • Rhubarb

Vegetable Nutritional Content

Additional information on the vegetables listed above can be found here:

Vegetable Nutritional Content

Fruit

Occasional Fruits

Daily Fruits

Fruit should not be offered daily as many of them are low in calcium, high in phosphorus and are simply a combination of water and sugars. Limit the amount of fruit eaten to 2-3 times per week. They should be added to the diet for hydration and the vitamins and minerals they offer but they should be added in moderation.
!! None Daily !!

Occasional Fruits

The following fruits should be limited to 2-3 times per week. In moderation the following fruits make wonderful additions to your iguanas salad. Fresh fruit offers trace vitamins and minerals, water, and a splash of color and taste.
All seeds should be removed from fruits being offered and peeled when a skin is present. Fruits should be shredded or finely chopped.

Note: Avoid using canned fruits as they are often placed in syrup or sugar water.

  • Apples
  • Bananas (no peel)
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe (no rind)
  • Figs (raw or dried)
  • Honeydew Melon (no rind)
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pumpkin
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Avoided Fruits

The following fruits should be avoided do to their high acidic content. Choose fruits from the green and yellow areas respectively.

  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Orange
  • Pineapple
  • Tomato

Fruit Nutritional Content

Additional information on the vegetables listed above can be found here:

Fruit Nutritional Content

Edible Plants & Flowers

Edible Plants - Flowers

Edibles

In addition to the fruits and vegetables listed above, certain plants and flowers are also edible. Many of these plants can be purchased or grown at home. If you attempt to collect wild flowers or plants you MUST be 100% certain that they do not contain herbicides or pesticides. When in doubt, leave it out!

  • Babies Tears
  • Carnations (petals)
  • Chamomile (english)
  • Clover
  • Dahlia (flower head)
  • Dandelions (flower head, leaves)
  • Day Lilies (flower head)
  • Fennel
  • Ficus (leaves)
  • Geraniums (flowers, leaves)
  • Hibiscus (flowers, leaves)
  • Hollyhock (flowers, leaves)
  • Impatiens
  • Johnny-Jump (flowers)
  • Lavender
  • Maple (leaves)
  • Mint
  • Mulberry (leaves)
  • Nasturtium (flower, leaves)
  • Oregano
  • Pansies (flower)
  • Petunias
  • Roses (petals)
  • Rosemary (flowers, leaves)
  • Sage (flowers, leaves)
  • Thyme (flowers, leaves)
  • Yucca (flowers)

Edible Plants List

Additional information on the greens listed above can be found here:

Edible Plants List

Attribution

Author: Richard Brooks