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The Right Food for Your Green Iguana

The Right Food for Your Green Iguana

Several years ago, one of my son’s grade school friends had a series of iguanas that lived less than a few months each. My son told me this boy fed his iguanas iceberg lettuce and mealworms. Dietary misconceptions like this cost many iguanas their lives.

Iguanas require a special–although easy to come by–diet. Our iguana, Arnold, is nine years old and nearly six feet long, so we know this diet works! Learn more about it, here:

1. High-calcium greens. Iguanas are vegetarian (one of our main reasons for getting one, rather than a reptile that eats crickets or mealworms. I decided I really didn‘t want the food chain living in my son‘s room!) But iguanas need high-calcium greens–kale, collards, arugula, watercress, or turnip greens–to stay healthy. Iceberg lettuce is not good enough! (Arnold loves turnip greens, but is less partial to collards, so we usually give him what he likes best. Experiment to see what your pet prefers.)

2. Full-spectrum light. Iguanas will not fully absorb calcium or other nutrients unless they have a full-spectrum light. (You can buy full-spectrum light bulbs at your local natural food store.)

3. Other veggies and fruits. Nitrogen-rich green beans or peas are a good addition to the iguana diet. So are yellow squashes, like butternut or acorn. Carrots and parsnips are also recommended. Fruits such as potassium- and phosphorus-laden bananas are a great treat: buy organic ones and cut in chunks with the skin still on. An occasional piece of strawberry, raspberry, or cantaloupe are also good for your pet.

4. Avoid: Beet greens and chard contain oxalic acids that are harmful to your iguana.

Read more: Pets, Less Common Pets,

By Cait Johnson, Assistant Producer, Care2 Healthy Living Channels.

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Cait Johnson

Cait Johnson, MFA, is the author of six books, including Earth, Water, Fire, and Air: Essential Ways of Connecting to Spirit, Witch in the Kitchen, Celebrating the Great Mother and Tarot Games. She has been a counselor for more than 20 years, and teaches workshops on seasonal elemental approaches to self-healing, conscious eating, and soul-nurturing creativity.

11 comments

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2:36PM PST on Feb 18, 2012

I have an Iguana named Iggy she is approx 12-13 yrs just over 4 feet nose to tail she has her days the food chain is alway's changing like's and dislike's kind of disturbing as I want to make sure she is getting enough of what she need's to keep her happy having stool movement's every day but love's cheese wondering if this was going to bind her up but did not .... But the question is is this any good for her giving her anything she need's or ??? she had a month where it was a brock and cauliflower day's no red stuff that they are apparently attracted 2 other than the odd piece of watermelon she is still alive but seem's to be loosing weight ... if anyone could give advice on great food's it would be greatly appreciated she seem's to be a happy girl she rule's the house and lives in her tree I've put her bathroom in a different room so she will get her exercies she need's everyday as she doesn't really like the leash outside she would prefer to carry on on her own but I am not much of a tree climber and knowing they are quicker than expected @ time's she is mainly roaming round the indoor's ...

5:38PM PDT on Apr 27, 2011

weird. no pages on how to convert your iguana to eat meat like all the vegan cat blogs here? I kid I kid. but those posts create a warzone bloodbath of comments. (feeding cats meat create a cycle of suffering and violance)


I love when people say humans are natural vegans because we lack body parts for killing. Iguanas have sharp claws to climb, but humans have no talons. that means humans can't eat meat.

Reptiles don't chew, Iguanas have sharp teeth, they eat plants. humans have chewing like a cow. so we eat plants.

what is the Ph of their stomach acid? will someone help me use Iguanas in the battle of a human diet? and how being so mamal-centric in "who should do what"

4:01PM PDT on Mar 20, 2011

Thanks.

6:43PM PDT on Oct 25, 2010

Read, thank you Cait.

2:35PM PST on Mar 4, 2010

The special housing needs of these creatures, which can outgrow any common petshop cages, are NOT brought out in this article. There are swarms of these foreign invaders slithering around South Florida, and although some may be the progeny of hurricane escapees, the majority probably are overgrown pets that were sold when they were only 12 to 18 inches long. I'm sure that some devoted iguana owners would swear that their reptiles give back some form of affection, but frankly, I hope for a law against importing exotic creatures for the pet trade and it should be strongly enforced, with ruinous fines.

8:30AM PST on Dec 24, 2009

thank you for the information

2:51PM PST on Jan 29, 2009

Our iggy loves dandelions as well. Go to www.iguanaden.org for more information. You can find out anything and everything about the wonderful creatures.

6:53PM PDT on Apr 10, 2008

Just full spectrum light is not enough. These guys are used to being SO much closer to the equator! I have rescued and brought to health dozens of green iguanas by offering them lights from Mac Industries, Inc. http://www.reptileuv.com/
they have done the research and truly care about health instead of profit as a motivator for their business. Also, always watch your ig's humidity, temps and fiber ingestion. Think about where they flourish and mimic what you can. I have 2 forever iguanas that have been through dreadful beginnings before I took them in. Now, they are healthy and calm. Lucky me, since they should each live at least 30-50 years.

3:09PM PST on Jan 29, 2008

Our iguana loves collards and turnip greens. He also loves bananas,apples, strawberrys, and bread. Its amazing that he lived before we got him. My new science teacher was feeding a plate full of shredded carrots. That, and he only fed him once every two days. He's grown at least afoot since we've had him. He's about 5ft now.

12:25PM PDT on Oct 20, 2007

I volunteer for an animal sanctuary in Indiana. We have two green iguanas. They absolutely love morning glory leaves.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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