Do Iguana Bites Hurt? {Are They Dangerous to Humans?}

I have been bit by my iguana. I moved too quickly on a day when I was in a rush. Do iguana bites hurt?

I can tell you my experience, but I will also give you some medical, scientific and factual data to understand more about iguana teeth, their bite and the implications from it.

This article is meant for your safety and understanding surrounding the issue of iguanas biting humans and finding out, “Do iguana bites hurt?”

Do Iguana Bites Hurt?

Yes. It was an accident that was my fault, but it hurt. Iguanas have 80-120 serrated teeth that are short and meant to rip apart plant matter.

Their jaws and bacteria contained within their mouths are detrimental when we come into contact and pose a perceived threat.

I learned the hard way to slow down, move in a smooth and composed way around my iguana to not cause him any stress or perceive any fear.

What to Do if an Iguana Bites You

An iguana bite could be a cause for concern, You may need to:

  • wash the area with saline solution.
  • treat the wound with hydrogen peroxide.
  • monitor your wound for the next few hours to see if the pain subsides.
  • visit the clinic or hospital.
  • receive a tetanus shot.

Iguanas carry bacteria that can spread into our pierced skin from their bite. This can lead to infections from Salmonella or other bacteria.

The wound may increase in size, fill with puss or simply not heal unless treated by a medical professional.

An iguana can deliver a powerful snap of their jaws that can cause a great deal of pain and complications to humans who are bitten. You may need to take a pain reliever during your initial recovery because, take it from me, it hurts!

Are Iguanas Dangerous to Humans?

Iguanas carry a venom that is not dangerous to humans, They are considered one of the least dangerous reptiles or lizards for that matter.

The venom is harmless towards us but it is located in their upper and lower jaws. The jaws and 80-120 teeth are more of an issue. They can deliver a shallow bite, but these razor-like teeth are set up like saws designed to rip apart plant, leaves and foliage.

They can create scars, puncture our skin and also spread bacteria. More common dangerous occurrences with iguanas involve the whipping or snapping of their tails. This can also hurt a great deal.

Handling an iguana should be done so with gentle care and confident movements.

What Happens if You Touch an Iguana?

If you touch a wild iguana, you face the risk of:

  • Being bitten
  • Getting whipped by their tail
  • Transfer of salmonella

Your own iguana under your care also harbors salmonella in their intestines. When they touch you, drink water or touch other surfaces, this bacteria can spread.

This is why we use antibacterial wipes when we let our iguanas perch in various locations around the room. We also wash our hands after making contact.

Do not touch a wild iguana who is not used to human contact. They may not have enough room to run away from you and may use their tail or powerful jaws to inflict damage when they perceive you as a threat.

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Are Iguana Bites Poisonous?

No. There is venom located in an iguana’s jaws. These venom glands do not contain toxic poison for humans to receive any harm.

The content of the venom is known as atrophied and it’s too weak to harm us. The problem with an iguana bite is the transfer of bacteria, most notably, Salmonella. This can cause soft tissue infections.

Usually the treatment of the wound can be taken care of at home, but if the skin is pierced and possible bacteria has spread into the bloodstream, there is a case to consider receiving a tetanus shot.

Treating a possible infection with medication such as fluoroquinolone may also be recommended.

Are Iguanas Dangerous to Humans?

Iguanas have a docile and calm demeanor around us most of the time. However, they are always evaluating the risk of being near us.

They recognize that we are much larger and we have the ability to cause them great harm. The danger that an iguana poses comes from:

  • Their tail whip
  • Powerful jaws
  • Serrated teeth
  • Bacteria (salmonella) 

The venom in their bite is also released, but it is considered harmless to humans.

Please check out this article on marine iguanas and find out if they are dangerous to humans. 

Why Do Iguanas Bite?

An iguana needs to gain your trust. We all need to improve as as caregivers of these exotic animals who were never intended to become pets.

In many cases, we can provide better living situations for iguanas whose populations have forced them to urban areas where they need you to care for them.

An iguana bites for:

  • Protection
  • Breaking down plant matter
  • Maintaining its ground and territory
  • Confusion
  • Fear

The bite of an iguana is powerful even though its teeth are not very long. They are not designed to cut through meat or bones.

This herbivore bites others to protect themselves and their territory. Sometimes we move too fast around them.

Do Iguanas Bites Cats or Dogs?

Pets like dogs or cats are also at risk of being bitten when they scare, confuse or encroach the safe space that an iguana thought it was occupying. Keep dogs and cats at a safe distance from iguanas.

Will An Iguana Bite My Finger?

Children are more susceptible to getting their smaller digits bitten by an iguana. They tend to be unaware that a docile reptile has the capability of lashing out and biting with their powerful jaws.

We must educate those who are unfamiliar with the nature of iguanas that can be motionless at one moment and snap with their tail or jaw instantly without any warning.

Getting too close to an untrained iguana or an uneducated human can be dangerous for both parties involved. The chance of your finger being bitten is very low, but accidents can and will happen.

How To Calm An Iguana

Make sure that if your iguana bites, give them some more distance. Here are some tips to interact with an iguana that has been known to bite:

  • Use tongs for feeding and not your hands.
  • Create a larger space for them to enjoy.
  • Do not encroach on their territory.
  • Do not make eye contact.
  • Maintain adequate temperatures and humidity.
  • Reduce volumes.
  • Reduce traffic and fast movements around their territory.
  • Seek a vet’s assistance.

You will not have to act this way around your iguana permanently. You are hoping to build routines and establish a peaceful residence to reduce their reactions to perceived threats.

Can Iguanas Carry Rabies?

While it is possible that an iguana can carry or contract rabies, it is highly unlikely. Iguanas do not transfer rabies to humans.

They can however transfer Salmonella as a common bacteria located in their mouths through their guts that produce it.

If the bite does not puncture the skin, you can wash it with water, saline solution and dry it off. If you are bleeding, you may need medical attention and medication to prevent the spread of infection.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Are iguanas venomous?

Yes. Iguanas have venom glands. The venom is located in in their jaws, but they are not harmful to humans. The serrated teeth in an iguana are more dangerous, They are sharp and can cause injuries to our:

  • faces
  • fingers
  • wrists
  • ankles

2. Can iguanas break human bones?

Yes. The whip of an iguana’s tail has been documented and reported to cause fractures in human bones located around the ankles and wrists.

The bite of an iguana is not meant for crushing bones because these reptiles have teeth that are adapted for eating plants.

Their teeth are not long, but sharp and serrated to act like a saw that mows down foliage and other plant matter into smaller pieces for consumption.

3. Can iguanas break your arm?

Yes. A larger sized iguana can whip its tail to cause a fracture to the arm of a human. There are many bones located in our wrists and it is easier for them to cause a broken bone in this location above all others.

Be careful when approaching an iguana and never grab them by their tail.


I made the mistake of moving too quickly in front of my iguana’s face. I got too confident with experience and thought my iguana trusted me. It was my fault and I received a nip on my finger.

Thankfully, the bite did not cause any major bleeding. I did a power wash with saline solution and saw that the wounded area looked more like a scratch with slight bleeding than a gash that needed stitches or medical treatment.

Thankfully the venom carried in an iguana is not poisonous to humans. Their saliva contains Salmonella and can cause infections. This is why we should treat any minor wounds or wash our hands when we make contact with our iguana friends.

We can use ointments such as Betadine to fight off any possible spread of infection. If the wound doesn’t heal, festers or gets worse, we should seek medical help.

I hope my experience is not something you need to go through. This article is meant to prevent you from dealing with an iguana bite.


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.