Iguanas are wonderful prehistoric creatures that live mainly on the top of trees in tropical rainforests. They can be found in Central America, South America, Mexico, the Caribbeans, and Galapagos Island. Iguanas eat a plant-based diet. What do Iguanas eat in the wild?
Iguanas vary in appearance, size, and diets. What do iguanas eat in the wild is specific for every kind of iguana. The marine iguana feeds only on marine algae. The desert iguana relies on cactus flowers and fruits. And others will occasionally eat insects, eggs or snails.
The most common ones are the green iguanas that are among the largest lizards in the Americas. They can measure up to 2 meters in length and 4 to 8 kilos in weight. Green iguanas are typical to tropical and subtropical forests, near waters, lakes, rivers. They are good swimmers and would jump in the water if they sense a predator nearby.
What do iguanas eat usually in the wild?
Wild iguanas are mostly herbivore animals. They rely on a plant-based diet, with occasional exceptions.
Wild iguanas were observed eating insects, snails, eggs, smaller lizards and other non-plant foods. Scientists believe that this omnivore behavior is not healthy for them. That’s why it is mandatory to limit the diet of your domestic iguana to a vegan one.
Wild juvenile iguanas feed with insects until their digestive system is ready to receive only plants. Although it is not recommended for a baby iguana in captivity.
While many biologists have been observing and studying iguanas in the wild, few of them actually noted what plants are they eating. The biologists observed that iguanas don’t eat all types of plants found in their habitat. Nor will they eat the same plants all year.
They may eat the flowers of a plant in some months of the year. Or they may eat the leaves during other months of the year.
Iguanas appreciate variety in their diet. And it’s not certain if they enjoy eating the same plant or parts of the plant all year round.
Yes, iguanas are complex like that.
Wild iguanas have sharp teeth that help them shred the plants and leaves. And their long claws help them climb trees, or cling to rocks.
The water intake of an iguana is mostly based on plants, fruits and rain.
There are 35 species recognized in the Iguanidae family. Although many are endangered species. Some natural habitats of iguanas suffered major changes in the last several centuries. The most common and beautiful iguanas are as following:
- Green iguana – it is the most common iguana and many people keep it in captivity as pets. It’s known that green iguana has a lazy and relaxed personality. But can be aggressive if they feel threatened.
- Galapagos marine iguana – it is a special type of iguana that lives on the coastal shore of the Pacific Ocean. They developed special orifices to eliminate salt gathered from ocean water.
- Common desert iguana – this type of wild iguana lives in arid areas and can withstand higher temperatures.
- Fiji banded iguana – specific to islands of Fiji archipelago. These wild iguanas are herbivores.
What do green iguanas eat in the wild?
Green iguanas are the most common pet iguanas. Therefore many people are curious about what iguanas eat in the wild.
Wild iguanas adapt their diet according to their native natural habitat. In a natural habitat, iguanas are herbivores. Because they rely on a plant diet, there are plenty of choices and diversity. Wild green iguanas might eat hundreds of plants.
But a balanced diet of a wild green iguana consists more or less on the following:
- 80% to 90% dark green leaves from plants, flowers, weeds.
- 10 to 20% several types of ripe or soft fruits.
Some of their common food choices are the following:
- Pink Pentas
- Hong Kong Orchid Tree
- Turf Grasses
- False teeth plant
- Purple Queen (Setcreasea sp.)
- Gumbo limbo tree
- Weeds (Spanish needles, frog fruit, weed, etc.)
- Most fruits and flowers
Some iguanas were spotted eating tree snails, worms, mice, bird eggs and insects. Usually, young iguanas feed on these types of non-plant foods. Their digestive system is developing in the first two years. And only when they become adults, wild green iguanas will become exclusively herbivores.
What do Galapagos marine iguanas eat in the wild?
Marine iguanas live on the islands of Galapagos archipelago. It’s believed that they drifted away out on the sea millions of years ago from South America.
The majority of their diet consists of algae. And their entire anatomy evolved and changed to adapt to marine conditions.
Marine iguanas have short snouts that help them to scrape the algae off rocks. Their tail is long and flattened perfectly for swimming in the water. And their long claws serve them to cling to the underwater rocks when heavy current.
Marine iguanas find plenty of algae in their habitat.
What do common desert iguanas eat in the wild?
Wild desert iguanas are herbivorous. They eat fruits, leaves and buds of various seasonal plants. But the favorite of them all is the creosote bush with yellow flowers that seem to attract them.
It’s not an easy answer to what do iguanas eat in the wild. Iguanas live from South America, up through Central America and Mexico. Iguanas live in tropical and subtropical forests, others in arid and semi-arid areas. Some iguanas live in the Pacific islands, others on the Atlantic coast. While other species of wild iguanas live nearby rivers.
Their diet and types of plants change and adapt to the climate and the variety of plants they have in that habitat.