Iguanas love the sweet and refreshing taste of cucumbers. My iguana would not have had a problem eating cucumbers every day if that’s all I fed her, but unfortunately, that wouldn’t be a very healthy diet.
Iguanas can safely consume cucumbers. However, fruit should only comprise 10-15% of an iguana’s diet, as overconsumption can lead to health complications such as Metabolic Bone Disease. Cucumbers must be washed with soap and warm water to eliminate harmful chemicals, then chopped into small pieces to facilitate the iguana’s digestive process.
If you decide to feed cucumbers to your iguana, make sure to follow the tips in this guide.
Can Iguanas Safely Eat Cucumbers?
Iguanas can most definitely consume cucumbers, as the sweet taste makes for a delicious treat. However, in order to avoid long-term health consequences cucumbers should only be fed as treats.
You see, an iguana’s body should always sustain a precise calcium-to-phosphorus (Ca:P) ratio of 2:1 to prevent illness.
If an iguana’s calcium levels drop due to either insufficient UVB light exposure or by consuming too many calcium-low foods, their bodies will automatically use the calcium reserves deposited in its bones, which can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) and result in brittle or broken bones and permanent deformation.
Cucumbers have a Ca:P of 0.8:1, or more specifically, about 14mg of calcium for every 18mg of phosphorus per cup. Therefore, if your iguana consumes mostly cucumbers, their delicate Ca:P ratio will be negatively altered.
Although they don’t rate as poorly as tomatoes or bananas which offer a Ca:P ratio of 0.3:1 each, cucumbers should nevertheless be fed as treats.
By the way, check out these similar guides I wrote on other fruits, as each one of them contain different pros and cons:
Can Baby Iguanas Eat Cucumbers?
Baby iguanas can safely consume cucumbers. However, as with adult iguanas, fruit should only be fed as a snack.
My only suggestion is to cut the cucumber into much smaller pieces for baby iguanas in order to prevent them from choking.
Cucumber Health Benefits For Iguanas
Cucumbers can offer multiple health benefits for your iguana, but only when fed sparingly. I’ll go over how many cucumbers to feed your iguana later in this post, but for now, let me share with you the health benefits and risks of cucumbers.
Compared to other fruit, cucumbers contain a huge percentage of water, making them ideal for rehydrating your iguana.
To put things into perspective, cucumbers contain 96% water, while apples contain roughly 86%, and bananas about 74%.
Although most fruits contain high levels of sugar, cucumbers are on the lower end of the sugar spectrum. Cucumbers contain only 1.7 grams of sugar per 100g whereas tomatoes contain 2.49g/100g, apples 10g/100g, and bananas 12g/100g.
High sugar translates to an increased risk of your iguana developing diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity.
Cucumbers contain vitamins and minerals that can help supplement an iguana’s diet, such as Vitamin C, K, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.
Drawbacks Of Feeding Cucumbers
Unfortunately, cucumbers may also pose health risks for your iguana, but only when fed at a higher-than-recommended amount.
Since cucumbers mainly consist of water, their limited caloric value should not come as a surprise. In fact, cucumbers offer a minuscule 16 calories per cup, which does not produce enough enegy, even for an iguana.
Oxalates are compounds that bind to calcium and other minerals, resulting in a decreased absorption rate.
As you already know, calcium is essential for iguanas, and lizards that don’t consume sufficient amounts for extended periods can develop Metabolic Bone Disease.
According to the only source regarding the recommended calcium intake, iguanas should consume roughly 10-25 mg for every kilogram of body weight, or (for my fellow Americans) 4.5-11.4 mg for every pound.
The average cucumber contains roughly 19.9 mg of calcium. As you can see, one entire cucumber does not meet an adult iguana’s calcium requirements, and a baby iguana would have to consume much more cucumber than is recommended.
Therefore, iguanas that consume mostly cucumber or other fruits will inevitably unbalance their body’s Ca:P ratio, leading to MBD.
How Many Cucumbers Should Iguanas Eat?
James Hatfield, a renowned iguana expert and author of the incredibly thorough guidebook, “Green Iguana The Ultimate Owner’s Manual,” states that fruit should only comprise 10-15% of an iguana’s complete diet.
If you’re unsure about what types of food are best for your iguana, check out this guide I wrote regarding an iguana’s diet. I also added a bonus supplement section.
Each iguana requires an amount of food that is unique to itself, as factors like size, age, gender, breeding season, and personal preference affect food portions.
Fortunately, Hatfield offers general recommendations based on snout-to-vent length (SVL), which I used for my iguana, Joanna, and found to be more than ideal.
|SVL In Inches||Food Portion|
How Often Can Iguanas Eat Cucumbers?
According to Hatfield, the widespread claim that iguanas should only be fed (any type of food) 2-3 times per week is a myth, and that iguanas must be fed on a daily basis, regardless of whether they finish their food or not.
He goes on to write that fruits should be fed at most 1-2 times per week.
Therefore, I limited cucumbers (or any other fruit) to once a week while also following the recommended food portions stated in the previous section. Thus, equating fruit to 14% of my iguana’s total diet, as 1 divided by 7 is roughly 14%
How To Feed Cucumbers To Iguanas?
You should always take a few simple precautions before feeding grocery-bought food to your iguana, as doing so can make a big difference in your iguana’s long-term health.
Wash & Rinse
Most food nowadays is grown with chemicals like herbicides and pesticides which can be harmful for iguanas.
Therefore, I made it a habit to always wash my iguana’s cucumbers with soap and warm water before going on to the next step.
Although organic food is free from harmful chemicals, I nevertheless washed the food with soap and warm water, just in case it contained dirt.
Chop Into Smaller Pieces
Some fruits, such as bananas, contain tough skins which require peeling prior to being chopped or shredded into smaller portions. However, I never bothered to peel or deseed cucumbers, as they contain skin soft enough for iguanas to digest easily, and seeds that aren’t a choking hazard.
Since cucumbers are relatively large, and because iguanas don’t contain digestive enzymes in their saliva that begin breaking down food, chopping them into smaller pieces is mandatory. How small is going to depend on your iguana’s age.
I highly recommend you do the following:
I cut food into 1/8 inch pieces for my iguana until it reached the age of two, and 3/16 inch pieces after the age of two.James Hatfield
You don’t have to be exact, as getting close to the recommended sizes is sufficient.
Best Time To Feed Cucumbers To Your Iguana
Wild iguanas are more likely to eat in the late morning to late afternoon after they’ve had the time to warm their bodies. As with any type of animal husbandry, your goal is to replicate the animal’s natural habitat as closely as possible. An iguana’s feeding schedule is no exception.
Therefore, I’d always do my best to feed my iguana in the late morning, and I’d ask a family member to feed her for me when I was at work, something you may have to do as well.
If you have no one in your home to depend on because everyone’s at work, as is usually the case, don’t sweat it. You can still leave the cucumber in your iguana’s cage early in the morning before heading out to work.
The cucumber may dry up a bit because it’s been chopped into smaller pieces, but it’s not a big deal.
Can Iguanas Drink Cucumber Juice?
Iguanas can drink cucumber juice, so as long as it doesn’t contain any type of added sugar.
In fact, if you suspect your iguana is dehydrated, giving them cucumber juice may incentivize them to drink more fluids.
However, as with regular cucumbers, don’t make cucumber juice a frequent habit, as it poses the same risks involved with overfeeding fruits in general.
I gave juice to my iguana that was made only by me, and I highly suggest you do the same. Store products contain all sorts of ingredients that might not be the best for our little green friends.