Can Iguanas Bite Your Finger Off? Keep Your Fingers Intact

Thinking about adopting a pet iguana but don’t want to lose a finger? Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that.

Iguanas are not capable of biting people’s fingers off, as they do not have the power to clamp down with enough force. However, they have many sharp teeth and can easily sever the skin, requiring a visit to the emergency room for stitches.

Fortunately, iguanas provide many warning signs before attempting a bite at your fingers, which I’ll be happy to share with you in this post.

Can an Iguana Bite Your Finger Off?

Iguana bites prosthetic thumb

An iguana’s mouth is divided into four quadrants each containing 20-30 teeth, totaling 80-120 serrated sharp teeth shaped like diamonds which are used to cut vegetation into easier-to-swallow size chunks.

However, get on an iguana’s bad side, and they’re not afraid to use against you.

Iguanas are unlikely to intentionally target fingers, it just so happens to be the first part of the person’s body that comes closest to the iguana when its ready to strike.

Although iguanas are aggressive lizards, they are unlikely to initiate an attack. Only when provoked will they resort to physical violence.

Therefore, unless the iguana is your pet, I highly recommend keeping your distance.

Fortunately, iguanas provide many warning signs before actually going through with a bite, the following of which include the most common:

  • Standing sideways to appear larger
  • Opening their mouth and hissing
  • Tail whipping
  • Wagging their tail back and forth
  • Head bobbing

Tail whips are usually the first form of physical aggression an iguana will display. However, when you’ve gotten to close, such as trying to pick up the animal, you can expect a mouthful of sharp teeth.

Not sure how to identify signs of iguana aggression? Check out this post I wrote titled, “7 Signs an Iguana is Mad: Ignore at Your Peril.”

Can Iguanas Bite a Child’s Finger Off

The probability of a full grown iguana completely severing off a child’s finger is very slim. Due to obvious reasons, the damage inflicted on the child from the iguana would be more serious than an adult person, but luckily not life threatening.

Not sure if an iguana is the right fit for your family, especially since you have children? Check out this post I wrote, “Pros & Cons of Owning an Iguana: Is This Pet Right For You.”

What to do if an Iguana Bites Your Finger

If you do happen to get your finger bitten by an iguana, immediately clean it with a disinfectant.

If the iguana was feral, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get checked out by a doctor, as there is a higher chance of you getting infected with harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, which happens to be prevalent among iguanas.

Lastly, if you can’t stop your finger from bleeding, you should go to the emergency room, as it’s not at all uncommon to need stitches after an iguana bite.

For more information regarding iguana bites, check out this post I wrote titled, “Do Iguanas Bite & What to do About it.


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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