Iguanas are herbivores, primarily folivores by nature – meaning their diet should mostly consist of leaves. But what about spinach? Is this a suitable plant for them to eat and one that you can offer frequently? Here is all you need to know.
So, can Iguanas eat spinach? Iguanas can eat spinach, and it can be included in your Iguanas salad from time to time. However, you do not want to feed your Iguana spinach exclusively or too regularly. This leafy green vegetable contains compounds known as oxalates that can bind to minerals and result in nutrient deficiencies.
And it’s not just calcium that oxalates can bind to.
We are talking about several trace minerals that all play a part and function in an Iguana’s health.
Or any living mammal for that matter.
And these compounds are not just present in spinach either.
They are found in a variety of plants – many of which will not be routinely fed in the diet of an Iguana.
That being said, they are present in many other common green leafy vegetables – like Kale and Bok Choy, for instance.
So you do need to be careful, and mindful.
Let us continue to explore the suitability of this particular plant in the diet of your Iguana and how you can do so more safely if you did decide to feed it.
Is Spinach Toxic To Iguanas?
Spinach is not inherently toxic to Iguanas, although feeding too much can be problematic. In appropriate serving sizes and frequencies, this green leafy vegetable can instead provide many benefits.
We’ve already touched upon the potentially problematic oxalates.
This naturally occurring compound may have an adverse effect on mineral bioavailability as they bind to calcium and other minerals.
This essentially means that an Iguana cannot absorb these minerals, making them unavailable and causing deficiencies.
May being the important word here.
It depends on how much and how often it is consumed.
But it’s worth taking seriously.
Calcium is so crucial to Iguanas and a deficiency can quickly lead to MBD (metabolic bone disease). It can be fatal.
This is especially true if you are feeding spinach alongside other high oxalate foods: beets, kale, okra, brussels sprouts to name but a few.
Now, some individuals will claim that spinach should never be fed in reflection of this.
But that does appear to be quite extreme.
In reality, so long as you are very mindful of how much spinach you are providing, and the rest of the diet, you should be able to feed it to some extent.
Benefits Of Spinach For Iguanas
So long as you are feeding spinach to your Iguana occasionally, there are many nutrients that they can obtain and benefit from.
Below, you can see the nutrient profile:
Nutritional Content Of Spinach
|of which sugars||0.42 g|
|Vitamin A||469 µg|
|Vitamin C||28 mg|
|Vitamin K||483 µg|
So as you can see, the nutritional profile is very good on the surface.
A decent amount of water (for hydration purposes), low calorie, low carbohydrate (sugar), low phosphorus, and decent amounts of fiber, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
So it can definitely have a place in the diet.
But it’s those Oxalates that prevent this from being a real super-food and dietary staple for Iguanas and other reptiles.
It naturally leads to the question – how much to feed exactly, let us now look at this below.
How Much Spinach Can Iguanas Eat?
Iguanas should eat spinach occasionally – every other week is generally a good feeding schedule for this particular green leafy vegetable.
At the same time, you are going to want to limit the serving size too.
A handful of spinach at these meals is a decent amount.
50-100 grams – that’s all you need.
And that should provide your Iguana with all the benefits and nutrients without any of the potential adverse side effects that can result if offered in excess.
How To Include Spinach In Your Iguanas Diet Safely
The best way to include spinach in your Iguanas diet is to offer it raw mixed in with other calcium-rich and nutrient-dense vegetables.
That’s right, you can offer spinach right out of the bag without any cooking.
As it’s quite a soft green, you shouldn’t need to cut it up or chop it either – although you can do this if you desire.
Sometimes it does help an Iguana take to it as well, as they can be overwhelmed by large pieces of food.
One thing you may want to do is source organic spinach, to eliminate the possibility of herbicides and pesticides.
If you cannot source organic, then be sure to wash the leaves thoroughly first.
In fact, doing so may still be required with organic options as they often can contain dirt and debris.
While boiling or steaming spinach can be done, and it does certainly lower the oxalate bioavailability, just consider it can also remove and reduce the other vitamins and minerals too.
Sometimes this may even put an Iguana off eating it.
Generally, if you are offering spinach sparingly there is no need to cook it first.
Remember, most of the diet 80-90% of total dietary intake should come from dark green leafy vegetables.
The following are ideal choices here:
- Mustard greens,
- Turnip greens,
- Swiss chard,
You should look to mix all of these up into salads.
This is when you can introduce spinach, from time to time.
The rest of the diet can come from flowers and fruits.
Again, you are going to want to be mindful of what fruits exactly and some are much better than others.
Do Iguanas Like Spinach?
Iguanas do typically enjoy eating spinach when provided. Just like any leafy vegetable, spinach naturally meets their need and desire to consume plant matter.
That being said, not all Iguanas may enjoy it as much as others. Besides, it does depend on how often you have been feeding it along with the ratio of other vegetables.
And at the same time, Iguanas have been known to develop food preferences.
This is why you need to routinely provide variation in the diet.
Once an Iguana has the chance to develop bad eating habits, they are often challenging to resolve.
Just remember – like any reptile kept in captivity, it is ultimately our responsibility when feeding and what we provide.
An Iguana will not instinctively stop eating spinach, even if they were consuming more than it should.
So, it is our responsibility as owners to ensure their diet is nutritionally complete and that we are not providing anything that could cause them harm.
They’ll likely continue eating it anyway.
Iguanas can eat spinach, and there are benefits to doing so.
But only if they consume it infrequently and in appropriate amounts.
Unfortunately, the high oxalate content of this particular green leafy vegetable makes it redundant as a dietary staple.
That being said the occasional serving can provide benefits without the long-term risks associated with this tricky plant compound.