Iguana Food Preparation
How To Prepare Your Iguana Salad
Food preparation is important as it can extend the life of the vegetables you buy, make feeding easier throughout the week and can help speed up the overall process. Your iguanas salad is equally as important as your iguanas access to UVB. What you feed your iguana and how you prepare it will determine the overall health of your pet.
Rinse & Dry
The produce you buy at the store isn't always clean. it is a good practice to wash all of your vegetables before they are served. You should already be in the habbit of doing this for the vegetables you feed your family and it should be extended to your iguana. Once you have rinsed off all of the vegetables, you should pat them dry. Standing water will speed up the process of your vegetables going bad. the less water you have resting on your vegetables, the longer they will go before they begin to spoil.
The dark, leafy greens you offer to your iguana should make up the bulk of its diet. Unfortantly the greens seem to be the first food items to spoil. This is primarily due to them being trapped inside a bag with condensation. Water speeds up the decay process which is why midway through the week you will start finding your greens wilting, changing color or even turning to mush. After your greens have been rinsed, they should be thoroughly dried to help extend their lives. With large leaves like those of collard greens, separate them before you put them away. We would place them on a towel, lay them out and then place another towel over them and press each one. This would remove the bulk of the surface moisture. Then we would place a papertowel over each leaf and begin stacking them. The paper towel seemed to extend their shelf life by several days as it absorbed moisture and allowed for air flow. Once they were all stacked we would toss them into a dry bag and they would be placed in our crisper. Other greens seemed to fare much better so long as they were dry when they were placed in the crisper. If they were moist they would spoil much faster, so make sure you pat all of the greens dry before putting them away.
As with the greens, we would wash and dry the veggies. The veggies would always last longer than the greens did so lonag as they too were dry. We normally tossed the veggies in ziploc bags if they didn't come in their own bag. Expelling as much air as possible will help aleviate the buildup of condensation. Since condensation is moisture, this extended their shelf life. Any veggies that were cut up were tossed in plastic food storage containers and used at the next feeding. Cutting something in half offers the moisture inside the veggie to be released. If you have multiple veggies stored together and one of them has been used, it will release moisture into the bag and everything will spoil faster.
I was never a fan of freezing our slads but we would do so on occasion when we would be leaving the care of our iguanas to someone else while we were out of town. We didn't want to rely on someone else taking the time to chop up and rip veggies, so we made the feeding process as easy as possible for them. One reason I am not a fan of freezing veggies is that the vitamin B1 (Thiamin) disipates as a result of the freezing and needs to be re-added to the diet once it has thawed out. Brewers yeast is ideal for this but requires you don't forget to add it and that you keep some on hand at all times. I preferred to freshly chop my veggies as if I were going to eat the salad. There are many people who will buy their salad mix and will preapre a week or 2 of meals at a time and then freeze them without issue. This makes their feedings much easier, easpially when they are on the go.
You don't want to over process the foods you feed your iguana to the point that you have created a mixture you could feed to a baby. Your iguana does not want to eat mush. All vegetables should be chopped up or shredded to accomodate the size of your iguana. Smaller iguanas will require smaller pieces whereas a larger iguana will be ok with larger pieces. Your iguana is not going to chew the food, so the pieces need to be small enough to pass through their digestive system without causing a blockage. I like to shred my squashes and carrots so that i could mix them in among the greens. The iguanas were always fond of the squashes and would try to pick them out of their bowls. Once i sprinkled their food with a bit of water, I would then mix in their veggies. The added moisture would cause the veggies to adhere to the greens and it forced them to eat the greens in order to get their cherished squashes and carrots. I also preffered to tear up the greens by hand into bite size pieces. I would occasionally hang some of the fresh greens in the enclosures and allow the iguanas to "forage" around and eat them directly while they hung there. I would still create their normal dishes of food and did this more as a way to give them a sort of stimulus, while also using up extra greens that would have likely gone bad before they were consumed anyways. Some days they would tear them apart and other days they acted as if they weren't even there.
Author: Richard Brooks
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