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Can Iguanas Eat Bananas? What You Need to Know!

bananas

Feeding an exotic pet like an iguana is much more complex than a dog or a cat. Feeding them a proper diet that balances their specific nutritional needs and providing them the proper husbandry is of the utmost importance for their survival in captivity. Improper diet is the leading cause of health problems and death in pet iguanas.

Whether you currently own an iguana or plan to in the future, you need to know what is safe for your iguana to eat, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Iguanas can eat bananas and their peels, but only in moderation. We will dive a little deeper into the subject so that we can get a better understanding.divider-reptile

Feeding Bananas to an Iguana

Iguana eating banana_
Image Credit: wojciech wojcik, Shutterstock

While iguanas are herbivores, they are primarily folivores, which means their main diet is composed mostly of leaves, vines, and some flowers. Iguanas will occasionally consume fruits, but they make up very little of their overall diet in the wild and it should be the same in captivity.

Bananas are fibrous and contain many key vitamins and minerals, so they are a great fruit to offer as an occasional treat and in moderation. They mustn’t be fed regularly or in large amounts. A single banana will typically contain at least 12 grams of sugar, this is high even in comparison to some other fruits.

Folivores, like iguanas, do not have a digestive system designed to consume excess amounts of fruits and natural sugars. The overfeeding of any fruits can lead to obesity and have harmful effects on your iguana’s health.divider-reptile

Benefits of Bananas

sliced banana in a pot
Image Credit: Paulo Vilela, Shutterstock

Though bananas should only be offered to iguanas occasionally and in moderation, they are full of fiber and the following key nutrients:

  • Biotin
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C

Some great ways to incorporate bananas into your iguana’s diet include blending it up with other vegetable matter, or feeding it to them slice by slice.

Before offering a new food source, it is best to consult with your exotic animal veterinarian so they can recommend the best serving size and frequency.

When offering your iguana bananas, you should opt for organic, especially if you are offering the peels. Providing organic bananas will ensure the skins have not been in contact with any harmful pesticides, herbicides, or residues that can have disastrous effects on your animal’s health.

Proper Iguana Diet

Iguana Closeup
Image Credit: Pixel2013 Pixabay

There are several species of iguana kept as pets. Though most iguanas have very similar dietary needs, you need to ensure you are familiar with the species you are caring for, have knowledge of their wild diet, and the proper way to feed them in captivity.

It cannot be stressed enough how important a proper diet is for your iguana to live a full and healthy life in captivity.

As previously mentioned, iguanas in the wild feed almost entirely on the leaves of trees and vines and will occasionally consume flowers and fruits. It is recommended that a pet iguana is offered 80%–90% dark leafy greens and vegetables and only 10%–20% percent fruits.

Most exotic animal veterinarians recommend only feeding plant material to pet iguanas, though there are some commercial pellet and canned foods on the market formulated just for them. These commercial foods are meant as supplementation and would only make up 5%–10% of their diet if offered. Check with your veterinarian on their best recommendation.

Below we’ll provide a list of some of the foods that can be included in the diet and how often they should be offered. Foods high in oxalic acid and goitrogens should be fed moderately to avoid health issues.

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Foods for Daily Consumption

Iguana Eating
Image Credit: Willypomares, Pixabay
  • Alfalfa
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens (flowers and leaves)
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Hibiscus (flowers and greens)
  • Nasturtium (flowers and greens)
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsnips
  • Snap beans
  • Squash
  • Watercress

Foods for Consumption Every 2–3 Times Per Week

  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Basil
  • Carrots
  • Fennel
  • Leeks
  • Mangoes
  • Melon
  • Papaya
  • Peppermint
  • Prickly pear fruit
  • Rose petals
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Zucchini

Foods for Consumption Once Per Week

  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Beet greens and beetroot (oxalic food)
  • Bell peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Bok choy (goitrogenic)
  • Broccoli (goitrogenic)
  • Brussels sprouts (goitrogenic)
  • Cabbage (goitrogenic)
  • Cauliflower (goitrogenic)
  • Grapes (high oxalate)
  • Kale (goitrogenic)
  • Lentils
  • Mushrooms (high phosphorus)
  • Okra (goitrogenic)
  • Parsley
  • Peaches (goitrogenic)
  • Pears (high oxalate)
  • Raspberries (high oxalate)
  • Rutabaga (goitrogenic)
  • Sweet potatoes (high oxalate)
  • Spinach (high oxalate)
  • Strawberries (goitrogenic)
  • Swiss chard (high oxalate)
  • Tomatoes (oxalic food)
  • Watermelon

Foods to Avoid

iguana close up
Image Credit: Ulrike Mai, Pixabay

Knowing what foods to avoid and what foods to feed in moderation is just as important and knowing what foods to feed your iguana. Always check with your veterinarian before offering new foods to ensure it is a healthy choice. Some foods to use in moderation or avoid entirely include:

  • Protein: Iguanas should not be offered any live insects, rodents, dog or cat food, meat, or any other food source high in protein. Iguanas need to be fed a vegetarian diet, protein can cause kidney and liver problems.
  • Citrus Fruits: While iguanas can be offered fruits on occasion, they should never be offered any type of acidic fruit, which includes all citrus varieties including grapefruit, oranges, limes, lemons, pineapples, tangerines, etc.
  • Avocados: Do not feed avocados to your iguana, they are highly toxic.
  • Pesticides: Do not ever offer your iguana foods that have been exposed to pesticides. Even the foods that are staples in their diet should not be offered if they have come in contact with harmful pesticides.
  • Foods High in Oxalates: There are a variety of leafy greens that are high in oxalic acid or oxalates. Oxalic acid can block calcium absorption and can cause metabolic bone disease and a host of other health issues. Spinach, beet greens, and swiss chard are some examples. It is okay to feed them in moderation, but you must use caution not to overfeed these foods.
  • Foods High in Goitrogens: Goitrogens are a substance that binds to iodine and disrupts the production of thyroid hormones. This can lead to hypothyroidism which can be very harmful to your iguana. Cabbage, kale, and mustard greens are examples of food potent in goitrogenic substances and should be fed only in small amounts.
  • Lettuce: Lettuce should be eaten in moderation. Lettuces with high water content such as iceberg lettuce have very low nutritional value.
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Conclusion

Iguanas can eat bananas but only in moderation due to their high sugar content and the fact that iguanas are primarily folivores that feed on leaves and vegetation.

As with any captive kept reptile, what we feed them is paramount to their health and well-being. They are unable to provide for themselves in captivity, so it is up to us to ensure they are getting the proper nutrition and care.


Featured Image Credit: stevepb, Pixabay

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