Iguanas are herbivores, and like most herbivores, they eat fruit in addition to vegetables and leaves. Apples, specifically, can offer multiple health benefits for your iguana.
Iguanas can eat apples, but only as infrequent snacks and after they’ve been chopped into smaller pieces. Apples, like other fruits, are low in calcium and can cause an imbalance in the delicate 2:1 calcium-to-phosphorus (Ca:P) ratio if fed as a staple food. Apples must be washed, peeled, and deseeded before being fed to an iguana.
Although they can be beneficial, apples can also pose health risks for your iguana if fed incorrectly. Let me show you exactly how to feed apples to iguanas to help you avoid a tragic situation.
Can Iguanas Safely Eat Apples?
Like all fruit, iguanas should only consume apples occasionally as most fruit is low in calcium and high in phosphorus, the complete opposite of what iguanas require.
Iguanas must sustain a 2:1 Ca:P ratio in their bodies to maintain proper health. Failing to do so can result in Metabolic Bone Disease, a medical condition where the iguana compensates for its lack of calcium intake by using the reserves stored in its bones.
If the imbalance persists for prolonged periods, the iguana can suffer from conditions such as rubber jaw, brittle or broken bones, and permanent deformations, but I digress.
Compared to most fruit, apples are relatively high in calcium. In fact they offer a 1.1:1 Ca:P ratio whereas tomatoes and bananas contain a 0.3:1 Ca:P.
Although apples offer a much better Ca:P ratio, they should nevertheless be fed as infrequently as all other fruits.
By the way, check out these similar guides on other fruits, especially tomatoes as they’re acidity can upset your iguana’s stomach.
Benefits Of Iguanas Eating Apples
I don’t mean to scare you away from incorporating apples into your iguana’s diet.
I’m simply stressing the point that apples are snacks, not a staple food, and when fed as snacks they can provide health benefits for your little green friend.
Apples contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals which can help boost your iguana’s immune system and overall health.
More specifically, apples contain:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
The other upside to including apples in your iguana’s diet is hydration.
Apples are 86% water, and iguanas primarily hydrate via the food they consume, not by drinking water. Hence, apples are a great source of rehydration for your scaly pet.
However, you should nevertheless place a water bowl in the cage, as iguanas will drink from the bowl.
Dangers Of Iguanas Eating Apples
Although apples offer multiple health benefits, they can be detrimental to your iguana’s health if fed too frequently or incorrectly. Let’s go over the risks.
First and foremost, apples can be a choking hazard. Most fruits are soft, but not apples, which is why they pose more of a risk.
Additionally, iguanas can choke on seeds. Therefore, you should remove all of the apple’s seeds before feeding it to your iguana, but I’ll go over this topic later in more detail.
Low Calcium Food
Although apples are not as low in calcium as other fruits, they can still unbalance the Ca:P ratio. However, the imbalance only occurs when apples are fed as a staple food.
The high sugar content in apples can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes, as was the case with rock iguanas in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, tourists in the Bahamas over fed grapes to the local rock iguanas, which resulted in diabetes.
However, high sugar is only a risk when fruits are over-fed.
How Often Can Iguanas Eat Apples?
Based on personal experience, the number of times per week that my iguana could eat fruit without developing negative health consequences was two to three.
Fruits should only comprise 10-15% of an iguana’s complete diet.James Hatfield, author of “Green Iguana The Ultimate Owner’s Manual
Fruits make up a very small percentage of an iguana’s diet, most likely due to the fact that wild iguanas only had seasonal access to fruits. Like with everything else in iguana husbandry, the goal is to replicate the animal’s natural environment as much as possible.
Hatfield was generous enough to provide an iguana food pyramid in his book, which he states as courtesy of Robert Ehrig, President of the International Iguana Society. I converted the pyramid into a table.
|Food Category||Percent Of Total Diet|
Check out this guide I wrote regarding the food iguanas can safely eat if you’re unsure about their proper diet.
How Many Apples Can Iguanas Eat?
How many apples your iguana can consume is going to differ from other iguanas, as factors like age, breeding season, personal preferences, and size, all affect the suggested amount.
However, once again Hatfield offers his help with food recommendations based on the iguana’s SVL (snout-to-vent length).
|SVL In Inches||Quantity Of Food|
I’d like to mention that you don’t have to be exact, but try to get as close as possible to the recommended amounts.
I found that Joanna (my iguana) usually ate less than the suggested amounts. However, I was not worried, as it was simply her preference.
Best Time To Feed Apples To Your Iguana
In the wild, iguanas typically eat in the late morning to early afternoon after their bodies have had the time to warm up. Since we’ve already established the fact that your goal is to replicate the iguana’s natural habitat as closely as possible, it is your responsibility to feed them at the correct time.
However, I completely understand feeding your iguana in the late morning or early afternoon can be difficult, as most people are at work during those times.
I worked around this dilemma by asking a responsible family member to help me feed Joanna on the days that I wasn’t home. If you live alone, or can’t depend on anyone in your house, don’t sweat it.
Feed your iguana early in the morning before heading out to work. The food may get a little dry, but it’s not a big deal. Plus, your iguana will eat when it’s ready.
Best Apple Feeding Practices For Iguanas
Now that you’ve decided to add apples to your iguana’s diet, don’t toss the fruit inside your lizard’s cage and call it a day. You have to take certain precautions to minimize the risks involved.
Wash The Apple
Most food today is grown with chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides that can be harmful to your iguana.
Therefore, I highly recommend washing organic apples with soap and warm water to ensure the majority of harmful chemicals are removed.
Remove The Skin ( For Non-Organic Apples)
Apple skins are not a choking hazard for iguanas. Hence, if the apples are organic, you can leave the skin, just make sure to wash it.
If the apples are not organic, you should peel the skin to decrease the herbicides and pesticides your iguana consumes.
Remember to peel the apple after washing it and before removing the seeds.
Remove The Seeds
Seeds, like large chunks of food, can become a choking hazard for your iguana. Therefore, I recommend removing the seeds after washing and peeling the apple.
I found it easiest to cut the apple in half and then cut a v-shaped groove across the center of the halved apple to remove all the seeds quickly and efficiently.
Don’t forget to double-check the halved apples to ensure no seeds remain inside, as that could spell disaster.
Fruits, especially those that are hard like apples, can become choking hazards for iguanas.
To minimize the risk of choking, cut the apple into small pieces after the skin has been removed.
James Hatfield provides a rough size estimate for baby iguana food. James would cut food into roughly 1/16 inches for his iguana until it reached the age of two, and 1/8 inches or 3/16 inches after the age of two.
You don’t have to be this exact (I sure wasn’t), as anywhere close to the provided measurements is sufficient.
Set Up A Feeding Station
Similar to how they enjoy eating on a schedule, iguanas also appreciate being fed in the same place every day, which is why I created a feeding station for Joanna halfway between the bottom and top of the cage as Hatfield recommended.
Additionally, I used a bowl like this one right here to hold her food. It’s spacious, deep enough to prevent most food from falling out, and doesn’t break the bank.
This may be an easy step to overlook, but failing to set up a feeding station and placing their food at the bottom of the cage can result in your iguana accidentally eating its own poop and substrate, with the latter possibly clogging up the lizard’s digestive system in the long run.
Can Iguanas Eat Apple Sauce Or Drink Apple Juice?
Although technically speaking iguanas can consume handmade apple sauce or juice, I don’t recommend it, as both are very sugar concentrated.
In other words, apple sauce and juice contain too much sugar, and frequent doses of sugar can result in medical conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes.
Never feed your iguana apple sauce or juice from the store, as the added sugars can be harmful.