Do Iguanas Attack Humans? {Are Iguanas Aggressive?}

Is Godzilla an oversized Iguana? Do Iguanas attack humans in real life?

Why are iguanas aggressive when mine is so lazy and doesn’t care about much going on around him?

In this article, we will find out what causes iguana aggression and why iguanas attack.

Do Iguanas Attack Humans?

Iguanas are not aggressive towards humans and would rather escape or retreat to a safe place that is elevated, under the ground or in their enclosure. Iguanas have been known to attack in two main ways:

  • Bite 
  • Whip with their tail

Both of these attacks are only done in self-defense. An iguana has no need to attack for meat as they are herbivores. Their serrated teeth number anywhere between 80-120 and they are designed to tear plants.

Warning signs that an iguana may possibly attack:

  • Standing on hind legs
  • Leaning forward
  • Bobbing head up and down
  • Hissing

I have to also mention that when an iguana stares at you intently, this is not out of love. They are evaluating you and the possibility that you might be a threat. Do not engage and try not to stare back at them.

Are Iguanas Aggressive?

Iguanas are relatively docile, but they can be provoked into aggression. It takes time to build trust with your own pet iguana.

Some of the suggestions to discourage aggression is to:

  • create an enclosure with enough humidity.
  • set up a basking space to create or mimic the confines of their natural shelter in the wild.

Another piece of advice is to not get into a staring match with an iguana. They see you as a possible threat. Time, patience, repeated efforts with slow gentle movements build trust when you eventually get to hand feed and pet your iguana.

Iguanas can aggressive during:

  • Territorial disputes
  • Breeding seasons

Male aggression is typical when they are vying for a mate. Territories are important when iguanas find fertile land that is filled with edible leaves or other foliage.

Giving that up when another iguana arrives is not going to happen and they can turn to aggression to prevent it.

Why Is My Iguana Aggressive?

You may hear that iguanas are peaceful or docile, but some are clearly not. You may be trying your best to interact with an iguana that wants nothing to do with you.

This iguana could have had stress from breeding or they are highly territorial and wish to be left alone.

Iguanas bite during breeding season when they are males who need to prove their worth to females. More information on do iguana bites hurt is found here.

This doesn’t mean that an iguana is going to spot you, target you and run at you to attack and hurt you.

They would only do so if they feel you are a threat or encroaching on their territory.

  • Give it time.
  • Create more spaces with elevation if possible.
  • Allow your iguana to eat plenty of balanced meals with a mix of foliage, fruits and vegetables.
  • Reduce volumes.
  • Create low traffic zones where your iguana rests.
  • Keep pets away for now and give them space.

Time will tell if this iguana will relax. try your best and be patient with smooth vocal sounds and gentle movements.

YouTube video

How To Handle An Aggressive Iguana

Iguanas that get aggressive may be trying to warn you to back off. They have taken over the space for now and do not wish to back down. Most of the time, this is not the case.

An iguana usually climbs up, runs away or escapes into an underground burrow instead of coming face to face with a human or other mammal for a fight.

This is a herbivore with short teeth and does not want to do anything with the corpse of another animal. If an iguana attacks:

  • Back away
  • Keep your arms at your side
  • Do not grab them by the tail
  • Throw a blanket over them
  • Spray or pour water

Iguanas do not like water being sprayed and throwing a blanket on top of them will create enough confusion to give you time to back off.

We hope you will not have to resort to any of these measures if you can avoid iguana aggression.

Why Are Wild Iguanas Dangerous?

Iguanas in the wild are not used to human or other domesticated animals. They may have been imported, overbred and spread their population in suburban areas where they are confused and threatened.

A stressed iguana in your neighborhood will be fearful. A wild iguana in their own territory will act more defensive to protect their space.

Wild iguanas could get even more dangerous during their breeding season. Males will attack humans if they feel that you are getting too close to a female or interrupting their goal of attracting a mate.

Iguana in the wild:

  • Carry disease
  • Transmit Salmonella bacteria
  • Bite
  • Attack with their tail
  • Burrow under the ground
  • Climb up trees
  • Get attacked by birds of prey, other reptiles and larger predators

Are Green Iguanas More Aggressive?

Green iguanas do not carry any innate genes to make them more aggressive. There are more cases of aggression reported with green iguanas simply because they are larger in total population.

It is more common to see wild iguanas that are green. Colorful iguanas are more highly sought after for their beauty. These iguanas are domesticated or bred for the purpose of captive care.

My Thoughts On Green Iguanas

I would not say green iguanas are more aggressive, but I will have to agree that more often than not, the aggression or attacks witnessed and reported have to do with green iguanas.

Green iguana populations are getting out of control in some areas where humans have settled for a couple of centuries. Green iguanas get aggressive when people try to catch, mishandle or attack them.

In some areas, it is legal to kill a wild iguana. Increased hostility towards green iguanas causes them to act out in self-defense leading to more physical encounters or iguanas attacks

What Do When An Iguana Attacks

Iguanas can be dangerous. Much more on this is written here.

Here are some tips to give you enough safety and preventative measures to not get attacked buy an iguanas:

  • Back away slowly
  • Give an iguana lots of room and directions to easily leave the area
  • Throw a blanket over them
  • Spray water around them

These tips are notes on what you should if you have already been attacked:

  • Check your wound for deep bruising or possible fracture (tail whips).
  • See if your skin is punctured (bites).
  • Clean any wounds with saline solution.
  • Use hydrogen peroxide.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment to disinfect and protect from possible Salmonella transmission.
  • If the wound is painful, take a pain reliever.
  • If the wound gets larger, hurts more with time, seek medical help.

The iguana may also be hurt or vulnerable especially when they lose a tail along the way. More information on this is written here.

Do Iguanas Attack Dogs?

The chances of an iguana attacking are basically the same as a dog attacking an iguana. Some dogs are inquisitive to the point where they have no fear of getting up close to strange animals and leaning in for a deep sniff.

An iguana would not like this and may see this as a form of instigation or intent to hurt them and take away their territory. In this instance, an iguana would lash out.

If you see an iguana staring at a dog, bobbing its head up and down, leaning forward or attempting to stand on hind legs, this is the time when they are getting ready to attack.

An iguanas has no use for a dog or cat in terms of food. These reptiles are strictly herbivores who have no desire to consume the meat of a dog , cat or any other animal.

Iguana attacks on dogs have occurred and will continue without proper avoidance and preventative measures.

Why Does My Iguana Hiss at Me?

Iguanas are not very vocal, but you hear them hissing at you, do you think it’s positive or negative? You guessed right. This iguana isn’t feeling very friendly right now.

The hiss sound is:

  • audibly low
  • guttural
  • accompanied usually with head bobbing
  • enabled with an arched tongue
  • coupled with dewlaps flared

This is obviously a signal to you that you could be attacked if you do not back off. Avoid eye contact at this point.

You have been given a warning and this hiss takes enough effort for an iguana who doesn’t use vocalizations much in their world.


There are plenty of more aggressive reptiles compared to iguanas. This doesn’t mean we can totally relax around iguanas and expect that there is a mutual trust built in.

We come from different worlds and some of us are trying to bridge the gap to connect with iguanas on a deeper level.

No matter how close we get, there is always the chance that we could receive the whip of their tail or a bite if we are not:

  • careful
  • respectful of their territory
  • aware of their physical warning signs

We hope the information in this article gives you some tools, knowledge and tips to avoid any chances of iguana aggression.


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.