Plants Consumed by Iguanas in the Wild
©2002 Melissa Kaplan
The question every iguana keeper asks, sooner or later, is "What do iguanas eat in the wild?" Logic tells us that they don't eat alfalfa and shredded squash, so, what do they eat?
The answer, alas, isn't as easy as it could be. For one thing, iguanas range from Mexico down through Central America and into South America. They can be found in areas where the the habitat has not undergone much in the way of change. They can also be found in areas that have undergone massive changes, such as the building of the Panama Canal, which included the formation of a huge lake and new islands. Some iguanas live in semi-arid areas, others in wet forested areas. Some live on the Atlantic coast, others on the Pacific coast, while others never see any body of water larger than a river.
The other problem is that, while naturalists and biologists have been studying iguanas in the wild for decades, few have bothered to note the plants they eat. Some biologists have studied the colon structure and looked at colon and stomach contents, but didn't identify all of the plants found therein. Because some biologists have been identifying the plants that the iguanas in their study areas ate, we can start to construct a list.
Iguanas do not eat all of the plants in their habitat, nor do they eat the plants they do eat all year round. They may eat the leaves at certain times of the year, while at other times of year, eat only the flowers of those plants, or only mature leaves rather than young leaves. So, while the list below may contain information on the plant and plant part, it cannot be assumed that all or part of the plant is eaten all year long.
The list below includes the botanical name and, when found, one or more common names, and a reference to the source in which the plant was mentioned.
Sites used to find common names and synonyms
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