When it comes to reptiles, most people will assume they can just eat about anything that crosses their path. This means insects, small animals, and plants. That may be true for other species of reptiles, but not for iguanas.
So can iguanas eat meat? No, iguanas can’t eat meat and you should never try to feed them meat either. Feeding them meat such as beef, chicken, and even insects could kill them.
If you want to learn more about why it’s bad to feed iguanas meat, keep reading.
Can Iguanas Eat Meat?
All species of iguanas are herbivores, which means their source of food is plant-based. Therefore, meat is off limit for them.
An iguana would never eat meat in their natural environment. In captivity, you should do the same by replicating their diet in the wild.
While an iguana will eat meat if it’s presented to them, as a responsible pet owner, you should never try to feed them meat.
Meat consists of animal protein and for an iguana, it can be deadly.
If the iguana ate meat, it could lead to organ damage. Also, ingesting meat could stunt their growth and other growth-related issues.
Sometimes, an iguana may accidentally eat some meat. If it’s just a small amount of meat, they should be fine.
The damages to their organs are when they are fed meat over an extended time-frame.
Iguanas is one reptile that requires a very strict diet of only plant-based food.
Can Baby Iguanas Eat Meat?
You may have heard that baby iguana should be fed insects and other meat products. This is true for most baby reptiles as they need protein to help them grow quickly and strong.
However, for a baby iguana, meat should never be fed to them.
While other reptiles start their life with a diet of insects and plants, iguanas start eating only leaves and plant matter.
Why Can’t Iguanas Eat Meat?
Due to the evolution of millions of years, all species of iguanas have only adapted to eating plants, leaves, flowers, and fruits.
Therefore, their teeth and digestive system can only process vegetation.
If the iguanas try to eat meat, they will struggle to process the proteins that are in the meat. This will put a huge strain on the liver and kidneys.
A small piece of meat will not cause much harm, but a lot of meat could be fatal for iguanas.
What Meat Can’t Iguanas Eat?
When it comes to meat, most people will think of beef, chicken, and pork. This meat should never be fed to your iguanas. Besides these kinds of meat that you’re using to see, iguanas should not eat insects as well.
Some of the insect iguanas cannot eat are:
- House Flies
Insects contain animal protein just like other meat. The digestive system of an iguana will have a hard time breaking the protein down. Thus, will result in liver and kidney failure.
What To Feed Iguanas Instead Of Meat?
All species of iguanas are primarily herbivores. To be more specific, they are folivores. This means the iguanas will feed mostly on leaves.
Due to being a folivore, these lizards have strong pleurodont teeth and really powerful jaws. This allows them to easily bite and tear through leaves.
In their natural habitat, leaves and plants are abundant and can be found anywhere in the rainforest.
Even though the rainforest offers plenty of food, sometimes it can become scarce. This can be due to the weather, especially during the rainy season when most of the rainforest is flooded.
Therefore, iguanas will eat other foods that are available which includes fruits, flowers, and vegetables.
In captivity, you need to feed them the same food that is found in their natural habitat. Again, iguanas are accustomed to eating leaves and plants for millions of years already.
- Mustard Greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Turnip greens
- Dandelion Greens
Most of the leafy greens that are sold in grocery stores and grown in backyards can be fed to iguanas. However, there is one leafy green that shouldn’t be fed to iguanas, which is an iceberg lettuce.
Iceberg lettuce isn’t good for iguanas since it has too much water content. Most iceberg has about 96% water content in them. Too much water could cause them to have digestive problems such as diarrhea and upset stomach.
However, during the hot summer weather, you can feed them some iceberg lettuce to help keep them hydrated.
Leafy greens should make up 70% – 80% of the iguana’s diet.
- Bell Peppers
Commercial Iguana Food
This commercial iguana food should never replace their staple diet of leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables.
When feeding this food to them, the pellets maybe a little dry. Iguanas are used to food that is moist. Therefore, if your iguana is not eating the pellet, try mixing it with water first.
For adult iguana, you can purchase Zilla Reptile Food Adult Iguana Fortified, which is available on Amazon.
For juvenile iguana, you can purchase Zilla Reptile Food Juvenile Iguana Fortified, which is available on Amazon.
What Other Food Can You Feed Iguanas?
Iguanas should be fed a variety of food to keep them interested in eating and help meet their daily dietary’s requirement.
Some other good food to feed is what you can find stored in your home. While these are a safe food for them to eat, you should only give them as treats.
- Cooked Rice
- Cooked Pasta
- Whole-grain bread
What Food To Avoid Feeding Your Iguana?
There is some food that you have to avoid feeding your iguana. They are not only unhealthy for them but could kill them as well.
While most fruits and vegetables are safe for iguanas to eat, there are a few that could harm them. This food contains a harmful substance known as oxalic acid.
For an iguana, this substance cannot be digested by them. It could lead to liver and kidney damage.
Also, it could cause severe complications with their bones by making it fragile or break apart. Oxalic acid will prevent the iguana from processing calcium.
However, eating just a small amount of it will not harm them. A large quantity of it, on the other hand, could seriously harm them and even kill them.
Food that contains oxalic acid are:
- Eggs (Chicken and Duck)
- Swiss Chard
After reading this, you now know for sure to avoid feeding your iguana meat at all costs.
Most reptiles require protein to help them stay healthy, but not for iguanas. This is one reptile that is unable to process protein.
As long as iguanas are not fed meat of any kind, they will live a long, healthy, and happy life.
Dan got started with his first reptile, which was a green iguana, at the age of 10. From there, he has raised many different species of reptiles. Besides caring for reptiles, he enjoys woodworking, playing basketball, and spending free time with my 4 wonderful kids.