Are Iguanas Poisonous? Don’t Get Caught Off Guard

are iguanas poisonous

Iguanas are amazing pets, and one of their traits is that they have venom glands.

Venom glands do produce mild poisonous effects, but an iguana’s glands are atrophied. For the most part, you don’t need to be worried about their poison causing you any harm.

I’m going to review some of the most common questions people have about their iguanas and poison in the guide below.

Are Iguanas Poisonous?

While iguanas do produce some venom, their glands are atrophied and only have the ability to produce a very weak form of venom. Owners should be more worried about the iguana’s:

  • Teeth – they’re sharp and serrated
  • Claws – they’re equally sharp and long

Iguana venom may cause a rare reaction if injected into a human, but it’s very uncommon due to the weak potency of the venom.

Are Iguanas Poisonous to Children & Infants?

Iguanas, especially wild ones, have been known to attack children. One iguana in Fort Worth made the news for attacking a child.

Due to their “moody” behavior, I do recommend keeping a close eye on your iguana if you have children around.

Poison from an iguana is so weak that it’s highly unlikely to harm a child or an infant. However, you never want to put a child in this predicament in the first place. Always keep an infant or child away from an iguana.

The iguana may trust and like you, but kids are unpredictable and may poke, prod and scare the iguana. Kids may also grab the iguana by the tail, causing it to detach.

Another concern is salmonella, as described by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

As an iguana owner, it’s not uncommon to worry about how they can hurt you. Some iguanas bite or whip you with their tails, and others may even carry salmonella. Salmonella can surely lead to severe sickness and hospitalization in a child.

Infants who are too young to have a developed immune system are especially vulnerable to sickness, infections and do not do well with the germs that an iguana may carry.

I recommend reading one of my latest articles, “Do All Iguanas Carry Salmonella & How to Protect Your Pet,” to learn more about this topic.

What do Iguanas Use Their Poison For?

In the modern world, an iguana’s venom isn’t used. In fact, the glands are primitive and atrophied, leading to the venom being exceptionally weak.

While other lizards, such as a monitor lizard, will use their venom to take down large prey, an iguana’s diet is largely plant-based. In other words, they don’t really need to use poison to enjoy their next meal.

How do Iguanas Inject Their Poison?

Venom and poison are two different things, and this is something that is very important for a reptile owner to understand. If you touch an iguana, it will not poison you.

Instead, the iguana must inject the venom they create to poison you.

This is similar to a bee. You can have a bee land on your hand and not poison you. However, when they sting you, the venom will likely lead to an increase in pain.

That said, an iguana will need to bite you for it to inject its venom, and you’re unlikely to even realize that venom was injected. Instead, you’ll likely be in far worse pain from the bite itself.

How much worse?

I wrote an article on the topic of “Can Iguanas Bite A Person’s Finger Off?,” that you’ll certainly want to read. The facts that you do need to know are:

  • Iguanas can have up to 120 sharp teeth
  • Iguanas are unlikely to initiate an attack on a human

Even if a child’s finger is bitten by an iguana, it’s unlikely to sever the finger. The venom from the bite is also very unlikely to cause complications or any side effects. You will want to clean the wound and take the child to the doctor if it’s serious.

Are Iguanas Poisonous to Dogs?

Yes and no. The iguana’s venom won’t be a concern for a healthy dog, and even in an older or sick animal, the venom is normally not anything to worry about.

With that said, you need to be more concerned about your dog eating an iguana.

If your dog attacks, kills and begins eating your iguana, you may have a very sick dog. Why? Iguanas can have:

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Pinworms
  • Other parasites

Often, your iguana will show no signs that they have these parasites. However, you can have your veterinarian analyze your reptile’s fecal matter to see if he has parasites.

The signs that your iguana has a parasite include weight loss and diarrhea, so these are two things to watch for in your pet.

That said, if your dog eats your iguana, these parasites can also impact your dog, making them sick in some cases.

Are Iguanas Poisonous to Cats?

Yes and no. Again, just like with your dog, the toxin from your iguana isn’t strong enough to harm a cat. Your cat is far more likely to get sick from eating an iguana than it is from an attack.

Cats can kill an iguana, and this is more of a concern for reptile owners than the cat being poisoned. Iguanas are truly specialized animals that need the utmost care and protection.

If you are a first-time iguana owner, you should:

  • Keep the iguana and cat separated
  • Not get a cat if you have an iguana

Cats and full-size iguanas can certainly get along, but many cats will pounce on the lizard and see it as food.

However, iguanas can also kill a cat, although it’s not common. Additionally, they can also cause infection from an attack, which has the potential to cause serious side effects if not treated promptly.

Are you curious about how big your iguana will get? Read the guide I just wrote on this very topic “How Big do Iguanas Get? Size Chart by Age & Breeds Included.”

Iguanas are great pets, although they do require a lot of care and attention to train and raise them properly. While they do have a very mild venom, it’s not strong enough to cause issues for humans or pets.


Phillip is the proud founder of Scaly Pets, a website dedicated to educating reptile pet owners. As a former owner of various reptiles, Phillip not only brings well researched topics to the table, but also years of personal experience. Now, he's sharing his passion with the rest of the world.

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