One of the most important aspects to caring for a pet iguana is to be sure they recieve the proper nutrients. The best way to do this is through a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables. Because iguanas are herbivores it is important that they gain their nutrients from plants and not animal proteins. It is also important to remember that every iguana and every iguana owner is different so you have to find the foods and routine that works for you and your pet.
Provide Fresh Food and Water
It is vital that your iguana be provided with fresh food and water. Many iguana care guides will recommend that you change the food and water every 2-3 days, however, it is far more beneficial to your iguana if you change the food and water out daily. Because you are feeding your iguana fresh vegetables and fruits they will dry out quickly once they are placed in the habitat, causing them to lose their water content and much of their nutrients. Changing out water and food daily also prevents your iguana from ingesting feces which can cause serious illness for your reptile.
Best Time to Feed
While it is not imperative that you feed your iguana at the same time every day, it will help you out with training your iguana later on if you have a feeding routine for your pet. It is best to feed your iguana in the morning about 20-30 minutes after they wake up. Providing your iguana with food in the morning allows it to digest the food with the proper day-time temperatures. The temperature of the habitat is important to feeding and digestion because if it is below 850 F your iguana will not be able to fully digest the food it eats. By feeding your iguana in the morning about 30 minutes after you have turned on the daytime heat lamp it will allow the habitat to be hot enough for digestion.
What Kind of Food?
As iguana diets are still being debated on by many owners, I will give you an overview of what the majority of iguana owners feel a balanced diet consists of.
Staple Greens: (40-50% of diet)
- Collard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale and water cress.
Other Vegetables: (30-40%of diet)
- Green beans, snap peas, sweet peppers, squash, asparagus, mature alfalfa, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, carrots, and okra.
Fruits: (15% or less of diet)
- Strawberries, mango, figs, grapes, raspberries, melon, banana, apple, and papaya.
Other Occasional Foods: (5% or less of diet)
- Spinach, broccoli, celery stalk, whole grains, turnips, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, rutabaga, and tofu.
What Not to Feed
There are a few foods that you should never feed your iguana.
Animal proteins: Iguanas are herbivores in the wild and should be kept to their plant diet in captivity. It is important that you do not feed your iguana animal protein because they are not a part of the reptiles natural diet.
Rhubarb: Rhubarb is toxic to iguanas so it is vital that you do not feed it to your pet.
Acidic Fruits: Many iguanas will not eat acidic fruits, however, some people do feed them to their pet on occasion to add color and variety to the iguanas diet. If your iguana does not have a negative reaction to acidic fruits then you can offer them as a rare treat, however, it is unknown if an iguana is able to digest the acids properly so it is best to stay away from acidic fruits.