Do This If Your Iguana’s Tail Falls Off

What to do if your iguana's tail falls off

Oh no! Your iguana’s tail fell off. If your iguana just lost its tail, there are a few things you need to do and know about to calm both of you down.

Apply Neosporin twice a day and increase the iguanas calcium intake after its tail falls off. Hatchlings can completely regrow their tail. However, juveniles and adults will more than likely only partially regrow their tail.

Want to learn more about tail drops, why they happen and if your reptile is feeling pain? Keep reading.

Iguana tail wiggling after falling off

Do This if Your Iguana Loses Its Tail

Relax. Your iguana should be fine, but you do want to take care of him at this time. He’s just gone through a very stressful moment, and he might not be too happy with you.

However, you want to do a few things to help your pet heal and recover:

  1. Remove the threat that caused the tail drop – if it wasn’t an accident because you picked them up by the tail or stepped on their tail.
  2. Apply slight but firm pressure to the tail area if your iguana is bleeding. Monitor the tail area for excessive bleeding, which will require a vet visit.
  3. Use cornstarch or something similar to force a blood clot to form if it’s not forming already. Most iguanas will form a clot on their own quickly.
  4. Soak your iguana in a warm bath to help disinfect the area.
  5. Clean the enclosure or cage thoroughly to reduce the risk of infection.
  6. Raise the temperature in the enclosure very slightly because your pet will need to use a lot of energy to heal.
  7. Pay very special attention to the iguana’s nutrition at this time and even feed him a little more initially.

As previously mentioned, professional reptile handlers ReptilesTV recommends applying Neosporin twice a day on the area where the tail broke off while also increasing your iguana’s calcium intake.

I do want to mention something that I feel is very important here, and that is regaining the trust of the iguana. Iguanas are difficult to train and can take a long time to trust you.

If you stepped on their tail or someone new in the home was responsible for the drop, you’re going to have a very unhappy iguana. Show him extra attention, hold him and work on regaining trust.

Note: If an incomplete break occurs, take your iguana to the vet as soon as possible. Stitches can help save the tail and it will regenerate. However, most breaks are complete.

Are you worried that your iguana is whipping its tail and that it can fall off? Don’t be. In fact, I wrote an article that I really recommend that you read, titled: “Do Iguana Tail Whips Hurt & How to Avoid it?

Can Iguanas Survive Without Their Tail?

Absolutely. Losing a tail is scarier for the pet owner when it happens the first time than it is for the iguana. Your iguana has developed natural defense mechanisms that will help them survive in the wild.

One of these defenses is the ability to drop their tail.

I recommend keeping an eye on him and making sure that there’s no excessive bleeding. A lost tail shouldn’t be life-threatening.

In fact, your iguana may grow its tail back. I’ll be covering this in more detail in a section below.

Curious about how long your iguana might live? I just wrote an article titled: “How Long Do Iguanas Live? Plus Tips to Increase Lifespan” that you’re going to want to read.

Do Iguanas Feel Pain When They Lose Their Tail?

Your iguana is in a heightened state of distress and lost its tail because it felt threatened. Detachment does damage nerves and blood vessels in the tail, so there is some damage to your pet.

Little-to-no bleeding will occur, but there are rare cases where bleeding may be more intense.

Heavier bleeding may be a cause for concern. At this point, you’ll want to do a few things to ensure your reptile is okay:

  • Use a clean towel to apply pressure to the area
  • Contact your vet

Most iguanas are 100% fine when their tail falls off and will not show signs of pain or need to go to the veterinarian.

If you’re like most pet parents, you want the best for your iguana. I wrote a post on signs of a healthy iguana, titled “11 Signs of a Healthy Iguana” that I recommend you read.

Will My Iguana Regrow Its Tail After Falling Off?

Most lizards can drop their tails, and it’s not something to worry about as a green iguana owner. Iguanas have the ability to regrow their tails, unlike a crested gecko.

Understanding why a tail falls off is important for an owner.

Reptiles have a defense mechanism that is called “caudal autonomy.” This mechanism causes an iguana to lose its tail.

The process is a sort of “self-amputation,” and it’s a way for lizards to avoid their prey. You’ll notice that your iguana won’t lose its tail because of:

  • Dogs barking at it
  • Cats hissing at it
  • Startling them

Instead, your iguana is more likely to lose its tail if you step on it, pick them up by the tail or they feel very threatened.

Regrowing the Tail

Young iguanas are very likely to regrow their tail, but there are sparse reports of some older iguanas not regrowing their tails. One thing is for sure, once the tail starts to regrow, you’ll notice:

  • The coloring seems off. Most tail regrowth is darker in color, grey or even black.
  • Tail patterning may be different, so the new tail may not match the iguana’s body 100%.
  • Tail shape and size may not be the same.

It takes a lot of energy for your iguana to regrow its tail, so make sure that you’re providing him with enough food and a proper environment. If the iguana is an adult and its tail doesn’t regrow, he’ll often grow larger in size.

An iguana losing its tail is scary at first, but it’s a natural defense mechanism. While I recommend trying your best to avoid a tail drop, if it does happen, your pet should be fine.


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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