Iguanas are known to love fruits, and who can blame them? Fruits are delicious. However, precautions must be taken when feeding certain types of fruit to your little green friend.
Iguanas can infrequently eat bananas, but only after the skin has been peeled. Bananas, along with all other fruits, should only comprise 10-15% of an iguana’s total diet, as they contain low levels of calcium and high levels of phosphorous. Feeding more than the recommended amount can result in an imbalance of the delicate 2:1 calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Thus, increasing the iguana’s risk of experiencing medical conditions such as MBD.
If you decide to feed bananas to your iguana, make sure you do so in adequate portions to avoid some of the negative side effects which I’ll cover in this post.
Can Iguanas Eat Bananas?
Iguanas are folivores, a type of herbivore that mostly consumes leaves, but they can definitely eat bananas as well, as fruits are a healthy part of their diet along with leafy greens and vegetables.
However, unlike leaves and veggies, bananas should make up a much smaller portion of their complete diet. Bananas contain high sugar levels that have the potential to unbalance the 2:1 calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Therefore, they should be given as a treat rather than a staple food.
According to iguana expert and author of Green Iguana The Complete Owner’s Manual, James Hatfield, fruits make up a small portion of a complete diet because wild iguanas only have access to them during certain times of the year, as fruits are seasonal.
Hatfield also provides an iguana food pyramid created by Robert Ehrig, founder of the International Iguana Society. I converted the pyramid into a table, which you can see below.
|Food Category||Percent Of Total Diet|
Click here if you’d like to learn more about what iguanas eat and which supplements to incorporate into their diet.
Banana Health Benefits For Your Iguana
If fed in adequate amounts, iguanas can attain multiple health benefits from bananas, such as the following.
With the exception of dry processed food, iguanas mainly rehydrate via the food they consume. In fact, bananas consist of 74% water.
Vitamins And Minerals
As you probably already know, bananas contain a plethora of nutrients that are extremely health beneficial.
- Vitamin D, C, B6
These nutrients can help strengthen an iguana’s immune system and overall health.
High Sugar Level
Although high sugar levels can also be considered a con, they can actually prove to be beneficial if you know what you’re doing regarding an iguana’s diet.
The high sugar levels can provide an energy boost which can be very helpful, especially if you notice your iguana demonstrating signs of weakness.
Downsides Of Iguanas Eating Bananas
You only have to worry about the following adverse side effects if you feed your iguana more bananas than is generally recommended.
High Sugar Levels
I mentioned high sugar levels as a possible health benefit, and I stand by it, but as I just mentioned, feeding your iguana too many bananas can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Overfeeding bananas to iguanas can also lead to an imbalance of calcium-to-phosphorus, which can result in Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), and thus, permanent bone deformities or broken bones.
The delicate calcium-to-phosphorus ratio should always be 2:1. Ask your vet to help you diagnose what your iguana’s ratio is and how you can rectify it should that be the case.
By the way, check out these similar guides on additional fruit:
How Many Bananas Can An Iguana Eat
Since there are many determining factors regarding the number of bananas an iguana can eat, such as age, size, time of year, and health condition, it’s practically impossible to provide you with a universal answer.
However, you can use the following info based on snout-to-vent length (SVL) as an estimate for serving sizes.
- 5 in SVL: 2-4 tablespoons
- 7.5 in SVL: 3-6 tablespoons
- 8 in SVL: 5-8 tablespoons
- 12 in SVL: 2-3 cups
- 13 in SVL: 2-3 cups
How Often Can Iguanas Eat Bananas
Although iguanas can eat bananas, they should do so sparingly, as overconsumption of fruit can lead to the negative side effects we previously discussed.
According to James Hatfield, iguanas should eat fruit only two to three times per week. Remember, an iguana’s diet consists primarily of leafy greens and vegetables.
Fruits are to be fed as an occasional snack.
Best Time Of The Day To Feed Bananas To Your Iguana
In the wild, iguanas usually eat in the late morning to early afternoon after they’ve had the time to warm their bodies. Heat is imperative to an iguana’s digestive system.
Your goal as an iguana owner is to recreate the same living conditions in captivity as your iguana would experience in the wild.
Therefore, do your best to feed your iguana in the late morning and at the same time every day. You’d be surprised how well iguanas can get accustomed to routines.
I understand, however, that feeding your iguana in the late morning can be an issue, as most people are at work. If possible, you can do what I did, and ask someone responsible in your family to help you feed your scaly pet.
If that’s not possible, don’t sweat it. Feed your iguana early in the morning before heading out to work. Your iguana will eat when it’s ready.
By the way, check out this post I wrote about the relationship between heat and iguanas’ digestive systems to learn more.
How To Prepare Bananas For Your Iguana
Below are some guidelines which I always follow before feeding any type of fruit to my iguana, and I highly recommend you do the same.
Wash The Banana
Most fruits and vegetables are grown with harmful herbicides or pesticides. Infrequent exposure to these chemicals may not result in immediate health complications for your iguana, but long-term exposure certainly can.
Although I would peel the banana’s skin, I nevertheless, thoroughly washed it with soap and warm water before placing it in Joana’s (my iguana) feeding station. The intention was to reduce the number of chemicals she would ingest.
If possible, purchase organic food, as they lack harmful substances. However, I understand this option may not be feasible for everyone, as was the case for me. If so, washing fruit with soap and warm water is more than enough to keep your pet safe.
Chopped, Graded, Or Shredded
Unlike humans, iguanas lack enzymes in their saliva that begin breaking down food before it reaches the stomach. Therefore, their stomachs are responsible for the majority of the digestion process.
However, I would facilitate my iguana’s digestion by chopping, grading, or shredding her food into small portions. Doing so provided the added benefit of increasing the number of nutrients she would normally absorb had I not chopped up her food.
Just keep in mind that cutting a banana into smaller portions will cause it to try up faster.
James Hatfield stated that he 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.
Remove The Skin
Generally, iguanas can eat fruits along with their skin, as they don’t have anyone in the wild to peel the skin for them. However, skins that are thick or tough may be more difficult for the iguana to digest.
Therefore, I highly suggest peeling the skin off of most fruits, bananas included.
Additionally, the concentration of pesticides tends to be higher in fruit skins than in the pulp. By removing the skin you help to preserve your iguana’s long-term health.
Set Up A Feeding Station
Iguanas not only enjoy routine, but they also like a specific feeding station, and since iguanas are arboreal animals, it only makes sense to feed them above the ground.
In fact, placing their food on the ground may have unintended consequences.
Firstly, iguanas poop on the ground. Hence, they may accidentally ingest poop along with the banana. Secondly, they may also ingest substrate, which is not a big deal when it occurs every so often, but in the long run, it can prove detrimental to their digestive system.
Therefore, I followed Hatfield’s suggestion and set up my iguana’s feed station halfway up between the ground and the very top of the cage.