Do Iguanas Eat Bugs? {Is It Safe for Them to Eat?}

Our iguanas name is Buddy. He can be seen licking up some insects along the way when he’s strutting through the backyard. Do Iguanas Eat Bugs?

What about insects such as crickets and beetles?

Buddy is alive and thriving, but have you ever seen your iguana eat bugs? Is it good for their diet? Does it provide much protein?

Do Iguanas Eat Bugs?

Yes. Iguanas will seek out bugs such as cricket, cockroach or other insect is in front of them as they are easy picking and will add meat to their diet.

Bugs are not toxic in most cases.

Iguanas sort through the wild in their local habitats to find the best:

  • foliage
  • flowers
  • fruits
  • insects
  • baby lizards
  • small animals
  • nesting birds
  • eggs

Rare insects that carry venom could sting or harm your iguana, but in most cases, it is safe for them to consume bugs.

There are plenty of toxic plants as well. It is up to them to discern or distinguish safe and toxic plants or other foods in the wild and we can do the same for them under our care.

What Happens If My Iguana Eats A Cockroach?

It is generally safe for iguanas to eat cockroaches and plenty of other insects. Our iguana, Buddy, ate a cockroach not too long ago in the backyard and he was fine. We even saw him smile after he gulped it down.

Let’s be cautious for a moment and discuss some dangers with cockroaches in households.

  1. They are known to carry bacteria and debris that they interact with in disgusting and downright filthy locations in pipes, sewage, under building foundations and more.
  2. A cockroach can carry viral, bacterial or fungal diseases that could infect your iguana. Buddy ate a cockroach outside or the house in a generally suburban location that we consider safer than urban cockroaches climbing out of sewage drains.
  3. Clean cockroaches can be purchased alive or dried for pets to consume. An iguana doesn’t need to prey on cockroaches, but if it happens once in a while, there is no cause for major concern. You can still monitor their droppings and check for any behavioral changes afterwards.

What Should My Iguana Be Eating?

Your iguana is going to reply to you to deliver a mix of plant matter that is freshly sourced or purchased and packaged from pet shops. These reptiles are folivores who consume mainly leaves in the wild.

They love scouring their habitat for foliage ranging from flowers to all sorts of plant matter. They can eat:

  • Tree leaves
  • Shrubbery
  • Vine leaves
  • Fruits
  • Flowers
  • Vegetables
  • Formulated Iguana food

A mix of some items above and an occasional insect or two per month is totally fine. Will they be dehydrated without juicy foods? I’ll explain that in my article here.

Let your iguana tell you what excites, entices and delights them to continue providing them with their favorite foods and keep them interested in the meals you deliver.

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Do Iguanas Need To Eat Insects?

No. You do not have to purchase or look for insects to feed your iguana. They can get enough protein from plants and do not depend on it for survival. Iguanas are folivores who are mainly interested in dark leafy greens ranging from leaves in the wild or spinach and kale.

We would consider iguanas to be vegetarians, but they are also opportunistic feeders. It is not out of the question to witness an iguana stealing a quick meal from a nest within reach.

A nesting bird or the eggs within can be eaten along with bugs or even smaller lizards. Crickets and other insects have been gulped down by iguanas without any major concerns.

Keep in mind that they can get enough nutrition from foliage as vegetarians (even though they can be classified as omnivores too) without resorting to animal or insect proteins.

Can Iguanas Eat Cat Food?

What if My Iguana Eats Dog food? We do not advise that your iguana ever consume cat food or dog food. If you wish to provide them formulated food with a mix of ingredients, it should be intended for iguanas and not other animals.

Formulated cat food or dog food contains higher amounts of  fats and fortified vitamins such as vitamin D for felines and canines. I would not feed a dog a bowl of cat food either and vice versa.

It may happen and your iguana will not be poisoned, but they surely are not reaching their nutrition potential with such a diet. They rely on us to provide them with leafy greens, fruits, and other vegetables.

Having a jar of formulated iguana food nearby is always handy for certain occasions, but opening up a bag of cat food is not a good idea.

Do Iguanas Eat Crickets?

It is not necessary to feed your iguana crickets. When it comes to these foliage feeding masters, they are able to thrive on plant matter with occasional fruits. Providing them with crickets on a regular basis spikes their protein intake and alters their natural diet.

They may become more sluggish, lethargic or have difficulty passing stool. Crickets are low in calcium and high in protein.

An iguana is looking for the opposite of that as calcium deficiencies typically create bone density issues in these reptiles with known cases of Metabolic Bone Disease.

Kidney stones may also develop from a diet rich in crickets or other insects that do not need to be in an iguana’s diet.

What Does Iguanas Eat

Iguanas are primarily herbivorous reptiles, meaning their diet consists mainly of plant matter. Here is a list of common food items that are suitable for an iguana’s diet:

  • Leafy Greens: Dark, leafy greens form the foundation of an iguana’s diet. Examples include collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, kale, and Swiss chard. These greens provide essential nutrients, including calcium and vitamin A.
  • Vegetables: Various vegetables can be offered to provide additional variety and nutrients. Some suitable options include bell peppers, squash, green beans, snap peas, carrots, and broccoli. Be sure to offer a mix of different vegetables to provide a balanced diet.
  • Fruits: While fruits should be offered in moderation due to their high sugar content, they can be included as occasional treats. Examples of suitable fruits for iguanas include berries, melons, apples, pears, and bananas. Remove any seeds or pits, as they can be harmful to iguanas.
  • Flowers and Edible Plants: Edible flowers and plants can provide added enrichment and nutrients. Safe options include hibiscus flowers, nasturtium flowers, dandelion flowers, and edible herbs like basil and parsley. Ensure that any plants or flowers you offer have not been treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
  • Calcium and Vitamin Supplements: Iguanas require calcium and vitamin D3 for proper bone health. These nutrients can be provided through supplements designed for reptiles. Follow the recommended dosage instructions on the supplement packaging or consult a reptile veterinarian for guidance.

Avoid feeding iguanas animal-based protein, such as meat or insects, as their digestive systems are not adapted to handle such foods. Additionally, iceberg lettuce should be avoided as it has little nutritional value for iguanas.

Final Thoughts

I’m going to watch my iguana Buddy, a little more closely when we are out basking in the sun. I’m starting to get creeped out with cockroaches and and other crawlers being ingested by him.

His gut has handled it well, but he definitely doesn’t need more and would much prefer his leafy greens anyways.


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.