Can Iguanas Get Depressed? {Here’s What You Can Do}

I am confused sometimes when I think I know what my iguana is thinking, but I’m proven wrong when it’s something completely different. Can iguanas get depressed?

A depressed iguana may seem to invite you for some interaction or a change in surroundings, but when you make the effort, they snap at you or retreat and wish to be left alone. See what I mean by confusing?

In this article, we’ll learn more about if iguanas are depressed and what you can do about it.

Can Iguanas Get Depressed?

Yes. When placing human emotional cues on animals, we should always be aware that iguana depression for example, is not the same as what we may feel when we’re depressed.

A lack of appetite, lethargy, withdrawal from surroundings and a possible drop in their immune systems are all symptoms of a depressed iguanas. They may be more sensitive to the touch and wish for you to keep your distance.

At this point, it’s up to us to entice your iguanas with the best, satisfying and nourishing treats or meals with lots of vocal encouragement and communication. If improvements are not noticed, depression can lead to the susceptibility of diseases.

Visit the vet if possible in the coming days if you are noticing negative signs of depression without any light at the end of the tunnel.

How Can I Tell That my Iguana is Depressed?

Your iguanas could be stressed, depressed or sick. There are plenty of iguanas who hide their emotions or inner troubles, whether physical or mental, from us because they have an excellent poker face.

Look for the following signs of depression:

  • Heavy breathing
  • Opening the mouth resembling yawning
  • Trying to escape
  • Retreating to the far corners
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dull appearance

If your iguana has changed color, looks pale or dull, then visit this article I wrote for more details.

Is My Iguana Emotional?

Your iguana could be displaying subtle cues of emotion that might be difficult for the amateur or beginner caregiver to notice. They are interacting with you even when it looks like they are doing nothing.

They can switch from laid-back, tranquil and calm to snap dragon aggression or withdrawal. Handling an emotional iguana comes with experience and understanding of the unique nature that your specific iguanas holds.

They might want you to talk to them and that’s it. Some may desire a gentle petting or a change in the way their habitat is structured.

Try to see if food changes the mood or make some actual changes to the setup of the enclosure along with increased outside time in a safe space when your iguana can bask in the sun or stretch out.

YouTube video

How Do I Make My Iguana Happy?

Your iguana is going to need your patience. They do things on iguana time and not human time. Simply speaking, an iguana wants you to chill out and let them bask outside if possible.

This is the top tip we have received and we would like to share it with you. Allow your iguana a comfortable basking area in their enclosure where the heat is set a higher temperature for some fundamental rest and relaxation.

You are simulating a natural habitat where iguanas enjoy sunny spots to lay out and refresh their bodies along with their feelings. Saunas, steam rooms and exercise that warms us up to the point where we drop sweat. This seems to refresh us and ignites positive moods afterwards.

What’s to say that an iguana cannot experience something similar when they are basking?

  • Set up temperatures of 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6-29.4 Celsius).
  • There should cool spots where it is around 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit (25.5-26.6 Celsius)
  • There should be basking areas as well where the heat from the UVB light makes it around 96-100 degrees Fahrenheit (35.5-37.7 Celsius).

I have a helpful article on iguana heat lamps that will help explain this more.

Do Iguanas Get Depressed in the Wild?

Yes. There are accounts of male and female iguanas acting lethargic, sulking, refusing interaction and overall depression taking hold of them when they lose a mate or are relocated. Separation and the loss of a paired mate in the iguana world can alter their emotions and physical activity patterns.

A female iguanas who had lost her mate of 10 years was showing signs of depression where she refused contact, communication, food and changes of scenery. She stayed in one area and didn’t wish to be touched.

She was witnessed on a perch of a nearby branch and a fallen tree log where she claimed as her spot to grieve the loss of her paired mate. This lasted for several weeks with minimal feedings until she was given a chance to relocate into a captive situation.

She could be given nutrients and was able to recover from the physical stress she was putting her body in due to her mental or emotional anguish caused by the depression of losing her paired mate.

Signs of A Depressed, Scared or Stressed Iguana

Look out for tell-tale signs that your iguana is not feeling well. They may display one or more of the following signs and it’s up to us to decipher the severity based on how long this has been going on and whether or not they are eating.

A visit to the vet is likely needed if these signs below are present:

  • Constantly running away from you
  • Skin darkening or turning pale and dull
  • Excessive hiding
  • Excessive digging
  • Defecating in random locations
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Eyes fixed in one spot
  • Attempting to escape
  • Not sleeping much
  • Sleeping too much

What To Do Now – Final Thoughts

We hope your iguana recovers soon and returns to their regular state of quiet comfort and overall satisfaction in your home.

Thank you for visiting for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.