Feeding a Baby Iguana

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: June 12, 2018
Feeding a Baby Iguana

Before getting an iguana, you should know that it is not such a common pet. Iguanas are reptiles, and to care for them properly you need to invest lots of time, patience and money. Depending on where you live, finding the proper food or veterinary care may not be so easy.

As for baby iguanas, you should know that in captivity they rarely live to more than one year old. They should be looked after constantly and be given a good diet. For this reason, you must be very responsible if you decide to get a baby iguana. Stay with us at AnimalWised and find out all about feeding a baby iguana and how to do it properly.

You may also be interested in: What to Feed a Baby Rabbit
  1. What and how do iguanas eat?
  2. Healthy food for a baby iguana
  3. Occasional food for iguanas
  4. Forbidden foods for iguanas
  5. Vitamins and calcium

What and how do iguanas eat?

Iguanas are animals that feed only on vegetables; they are herbivorous. You should never give your pet iguana meat. Iguanas have teeth, but they don't chew. Instead, they tear their food before swallowing it. As such, it is very important to chop up or grate their food.

You should look at the size of your iguana's head and figure out if the mouthfuls will be easy to swallow. Baby iguanas should be fed every day, and it is advisable to replenish their food bowl twice a day, changing the combination of vegetables. This will encourage your little one to eat.

The best time to feed a baby iguana is in the morning, after it has been warmed up by UV rays for a couple of hours. Iguanas need heat to be able to break down food. When you move them, especially after eating, it is important that you don't subject them to drafts or sudden changes in temperature.

Food should never be cold nor excessively hot. If you use frozen vegetables, you should thaw them beforehand and wait for them to return to room temperature. Even if it comes from the fridge, it's a good idea to prepare the bowl and wait for the temperature to rise. Try leaving it outside the terrarium for a few minutes.

It is very important that you regularly clean the iguana's bowl without leaving any leftovers from previous days, because fungi can easily appear. Here you can learn more about the diet of the green iguana.

Feeding a Baby Iguana - What and how do iguanas eat?

Healthy food for a baby iguana

An iguana's diet should contain about 95% vegetables of the green and leafy kind and 5% fruit and iguana feed.

Fresh alfalfa is a good base with which you can mix the fruit and vegetables, chopped up into small pieces. You can also incorporate pumpkin flowers, hibiscus or rose provided they do not contain pesticides. Recommended vegetables for iguanas include:

  • Pumpkin
  • Courgette
  • Celery
  • Coriander
  • Green beans
  • Turnip tops

Some fruits, such as lemons or oranges, are not recommended due to their acidity. However, they can be be given occasionally and in small amounts. Fruits that you should incorporate are:

  • Figs
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Tomatoes
  • Papaya

You can incorporate dehydrated foods from the market into their diet, but always combined with other fresh products. If your little iguana finds it difficult to eat them, you can moisten them with water to soften them up and make them easier to ingest.

Feeding a Baby Iguana - Healthy food for a baby iguana

Occasional food for iguanas

These foods should only be given sporadically, as they don't have a composition suitable for iguanas and consuming high amounts of them can cause nutritional deficiencies. You can include small amounts of some of them as long as they are with other recommended vegetables.

Foods low in calcium and phosphorus:

  • Carrots
  • Banana
  • Grapes
  • Lettuce
  • Onion

Lettuce, despite being a food that iguanas usually eat very well, is not advisable to give in large amounts. This is because lettuce has very little nutritional value and can make your baby iguana lose its appetite.

Foods that cause deficiencies in the thyroid gland:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Turnips
Feeding a Baby Iguana - Occasional food for iguanas

Forbidden foods for iguanas

The foods which are labelled as "forbidden" or dangerous are not poisonous for your iguana, but owing to their composition they are completely unsuitable. You must avoid them to prevent future problems in your iguana's digestion and overall health. This is especially true with baby iguanas, who require a healthy and varied diet to grow strong.

There are a number of vegetables that can be harmful to your iguana. They are those that contain oxalic acid or oxalate; a substance that an iguana's organism cannot break down and assimilate. Their presence inhibits the normal assimilation of calcium, generating deficiencies that can trigger bone and joint problems.

Foods with oxalic acid include:

  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • Beetroot
  • Chard
  • Pepper

You must avoid giving an iguana eggs or any dairy products, such as cheese.

Feeding a Baby Iguana - Forbidden foods for iguanas

Vitamins and calcium

Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus should be present in any iguana's diet, especially at a young age. Vitamin D and phosphorus are involved in calcium absorption, a key factor for the development of a baby iguana. If the nutritional intake is inadequate, the iguana can develop MBD, that is, metabolic bone disease.

A healthy, varied and balanced diet should provide the necessary amounts of these nutrients, but you need to make sure of it with vitamin supplements. On the market you can find pills, drops or special iguana sprays. Ask your vet about the dosis and appropriate supplement for your young iguana.

Feeding a Baby Iguana - Vitamins and calcium

If you want to read similar articles to Feeding a Baby Iguana, we recommend you visit our Lactation category.

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Green iguanas like the one shown are omnivores. I have a four year old, wild-caught iguana that eats mostly veggies but goes absolutely NUTS for superworms and even pinkie mice. I've sat and watched large iguanas in the Miami canals consume hatchling ducks in a single snap. Also seen them noshing down on a fish carcass. They've stolen my fishing worms when I leave the lid open and wander away for a time. They eat primarily vegetables, and you should only offer live food as an occasional treat, but they are most certainly omnivorous in nature.
Bethany Braun
My yearling female iguana eats a huge amount. More than twice the amount as the young male the same age. ????? If she were older I'd think she is growing eggs. Droppings look normal as is muscle development so I doubt parasites. I have had them about 2 mos.
OK well there is a big difference now in weight gain because when i got her she was really skinny but now she is really fat lol. i feed her twice a day i usually feed her at 6 am and i feed her at 6 pm she is shedding like crazy. she is like a new iguana she has gained so much weight now which is awesome!! thanks for the help i appreciate it ! have a great day
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Shana,

We are so glad to hear it! Sounds like you have been very caring and been there just at the right time for her. It is unlikely an iguana will eat to the point of obesity, unless they have some sort of nutritional disorder. It sounds like she is making up for lost time, but hopefully she will settle into a healthy routine.

Do you have a name for her?
OK so i bought me an iguana off of some guy and she is 3 months old she is really skinny and her tail is really skinny also she has not eaten in 2 days she does not look healthy in any way. he breeds iguanas for a living and i asked him what all he feeds them and he told me collard greens, mustard greens, and kale, bananas strawberry's. but no lettuce that she hates lettuce. so the first night i brought her home i cleaned out her tank and the man already had food in there so i pulled it out and it was lettuce he has given her. so i fed her a little bit of kale strawberry's bananas and peaches food the man said she loves. and her food has not been touched i am very worried about her and i was wondering if anyone has an idea of whats going on with my iguana! please and thank you i dont want to wake up to a dead iguana.
OK so i just bought me a 3 month old iguana and she is very skinny this is only my 2nd day having her but she still wont eat. her tail is even skinny. so i called the guy i bought her from and asked him what all he fed her and he told me only greens such as collard greens, mustard greens and thats it. he told me no lettuce. so when i went to clean out her tank he had lettuce in it. i dont think lettuce will hurt but she wont eat it. so i gave her collard greens and she still wont eat it. so i called him back and told him and he said he breeds iguanas for a living but they were all skinny and when i got there he had 2 dead baby iguanas. he lied to me because all he has been giving them is lettuce but i was told they dont get enough nutrients from just lettuce. and i found out thats all he fed them was lettuce not any greens.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Shana,

We are sorry to hear you have had this experience. While there may be more to this story than we can ascertain, if you think that this man is abusing his animals through neglect, please report him to your relevant local authorities. There are different local laws, so it is up to these services to know what to do, but you can at least give them a red flag.

As we state in the article, baby iguanas will need to have their food replenished and be given a range of vegetables. Please let us know if there are any developments and good luck in taking care of your new pal.
Quick question, why is celery listed both as recommended and potentially harmful?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Ricky,

It's a good question, the answer being that it was simply an oversight. Celery is great for Iguanas, but should be provided in relative moderation. Even with staple foods for iguanas, their food should be rotated and you should not give them too much of the same thing. Thanks for pointing this out, we have amended the article accordingly.
How can you get an iguana to be friendly with you when we put our hands in the cage to feed him he's okay but if I move my hands he scared so how can you get a baby to warm up to you sorry I didn't take a picture before I sent this
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Nelda,

Patience is key when it comes to taming an iguana. You need to be incredibly calm and not pick them up before they have started to trust you. You can hand feed them (again calmly) until they see you as a provider rather than a threat. Also, let them climb up on you before trying to pick them up. They will warm to you if you are calm and patient, it can take a while.
So I just got my baby iguana 4 days ago and I was wondering how long can they go without eating before I have to be really worried or should I be worried now please lmk
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Jordan

Iguanas should eat daily. If your animal still isn’t eating we recommend maybe taking it to your vet for a checkup.
Iguanas are also very social animals, sometimes if they have other iguanas with them they find a caged environment more welcoming and feel more comfortable, this could be a good idea!

We hope this helps

If you have anymore questions please don’t hesitate to stay updated with us at AnimalWised
llennield vargas
i got a baby iguana about 23 cm long he isn't eating at all i have to force feed him.i don't want to do that because then he will get use to me force feeding him.i give him lettuce,watercress,mangoes,apples,bananas and he wont eat it,im thinking he eats it when im not around.please help i need solutions asap
Alice Tapiol Breeze (AnimalWised editor)
An iguana eats once a day, ideally green vegetables such as spinach. We advise you to give your iguana a small amount to make sure he/she is not eating. If you do notice that your iguana is not eating there may be something in the environment that he/she may not like. The terrarium should be at 27/29 degrees Celsius during daytime and 24 degrees Celsius during the night. and should include a hotspot at 35 degrees Celsius. These small things may affect your iguana.
Hope this helps
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Feeding a Baby Iguana