Pets take a special place in the heart of their owners. Mammal pets are all generally straightforward when it comes to taking care of them. Reptiles like iguanas can be challenging to take care of when you do not know about them. As with all animals, knowing what exactly your iguana eats will enable you to provide the nutrients it needs to grow healthy.
Do iguanas eat mice? Young iguanas can eat small quantities of mice because it is easier for them to process animal-based protein, requiring it to grow. Adult iguanas do not and should never eat mice as they have a more challenging time digesting the protein contained in them, which will cause renal failure.
Does my iguana need mice to grow well? My iguana has been eating mice since it was young; when do I need to stop giving it mice?
Do you have questions like these and are looking for answers to them? Keep reading as we go over everything in detail in this article.
ARE MICE GOOD FOR MY IGUANA?
Mice are small rodents that are closely related to rats. There are many varieties of mice, including kangaroo mice, flying mice, pocket mice, golden mice, Florida mice, Eurasian harvest mice, and many others. They are commonly characterized by small, furry bodies, long tails, and good senses of smell and are primarily omnivorous.
The only feature they all have that concerns iguanas and reptiles, in general, is that they are loaded with protein. And they have a whole lot of it!
55.8 percent of an adult mouse is made up of protein. This percentage means that for a small animal weighing an average of 25 grams, it contains about 13 grams of protein!
While this amount is relatively high, is it beneficial to your iguana?
Domesticated iguanas are born omnivorous, meaning that they can eat both plants and animals and obtain nutrients from them to grow. However, as they get older, they tend to become exclusively herbivorous, eating only typical foliage, and have a more challenging time processing animal-based protein.
So, for your young iguana, mice are a good source of protein. However, you should never forget that as you give your iguana some protein, it should not be restricted to only one source to avoid “addiction.” Always give your young iguana at least three more animal protein sources to ensure that it does not get accustomed to the taste of only one. Other sources of animal protein for your young iguana include worms, termites, hard-boiled eggs, crickets, beetles, and a few others.
When you feed your iguana animal-based protein, you should also know that even though the iguana is young and more capable of digesting or processing the protein than adults, you should always give it mice and other proteins in tiny amounts; If even at all.
HOW MANY MICE SHOULD I GIVE MY IGUANA?
Although young iguanas are omnivores, they are still primarily herbivores and typically folivores which means that their food is composed mainly of leafy vegetables and plants.
About 50 percent of their food is composed of high-calcium foliage because they require large amounts of calcium to develop their bones and prevent Metabolic Bone Disease, which is caused by inadequate calcium levels in their bodies.
Metabolic Bone Disease affects young iguanas to a greater degree since their bones are not well developed. Calcium lost in the bones at such a young age can permanently affect your iguana, which necessitates calcium-dense foliage in young iguanas. Examples of these vegetables include collard greens, soybeans, Bok Choy, Swiss chard, beet greens, etc.
Apart from this, 40 percent of their entire meal comprises other vegetables that are not necessarily calcium-dense to provide a balanced diet containing higher quantities of other nutrients that they need, such as essential vitamins and minerals. These other vegetables include celery, Brussel sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, zucchini, etc.
Fruits can also be factored into the total percentage of feed but to no more than ten percent. This amount, ten percent, is advised because excessive sugar can cause your iguana to be obese and develop an addiction. Examples of the fruits that your iguana can eat are raspberries, apples, bananas, grapes, and blackberries.
You might be wondering where the other ten percent comes in and why I haven’t mentioned anything regarding mice in a while. Well, I’m getting to that.
Since some of these vegetables have plant-based proteins that your iguana can benefit from, it would be sensible not to give it too many mice.
Mice should take up ten percent of your young iguana’s diet no more than once a week. This rationing will ensure that you do not give your young iguana excess proteins.
Young iguanas weigh about 800-1000 grams and eat about 5-7 percent of their total weight daily, which means that they should eat about 40-50 grams of food in a day.
Once in a week, four to five grams of your young iguana’s total diet can be allocated to mice.
What kind of mice should my iguana eat?
Not all mice can be given to your iguana because of the varying degrees of protein each one contains and how much fur they contain.
While furry mice can be appealing to iguanas, naked pinkies are the best for them.
Pinkies are baby mice that have no fur at all. They have an average weight of about 2.5 grams, which means that in a week, your young iguana can eat two pinkies. This amount translates to about three grams of animal-based protein every week.
What about adult iguanas? I have been talking about young iguanas throughout this article. In a bit, I’ll be explaining why giving adult iguana mice is not suitable for them; please keep reading to see the answer.
HOW WILL GIVING AN ADULT IGUANA MICE AFFECT IT?
As aforementioned, adult iguanas have difficulty processing animal-based proteins, so mice will not help them much.
When an iguana becomes two years old, it has reached adulthood. By that time, it is expected to have made its transition to a full-fledged herbivore. Most, if not all, of the protein it needs is gotten from the plants it consumes.
For example, two cups of dandelion greens — a typical iguana food — contains about 2.98 grams of protein. When combined with the other proteins gotten from the variety of plants your iguana consumes, your iguana will reach the maximum amount of protein it should consume.
Giving your iguana mice will only add to this amount and cause problems for it.
What problem does extra protein gotten from mice give your iguana? Your iguana may develop renal failure if it overeats protein. Excess protein will be taken to the kidneys to be broken down. Once its kidneys start over-working due to more protein in the iguana’s body than average, they become weak and are incapable of doing their normal filtration process.
Renal failure in iguanas is irreversible and will ultimately lead to death.
ARE THERE ANY PLANT-BASED ALTERNATIVES TO MICE?
Since adult iguanas do not need to eat mice because of the herbivorous nature of their diet, you must be wondering what plants to give yours in the place of mice.
There are several plants you can give your iguana as alternatives to mice; they include:
● Collard Greens: Collard greens are green leafy vegetables belonging to the cabbage family. Two cups of raw, shredded collard greens will provide your iguana with 1.76 grams of protein which is quite a lot for a vegetable. Rather than giving your iguana mice, you can increase the number of collard greens you give them.
● Kale: Iguanas are pretty fond of kale which is another leafy vegetable. One cup of raw shredded kale gives your iguana about 2.2 grams of protein. This proportion is one of the highest plant-based proteins you can find in a vegetable of that amount.
● Beet Greens: Beet greens are leafy vegetables that are tasty to iguanas. A cup of beet greens provides about 0.7 grams of protein for your iguana. It is a suitable replacement for mice.
● Mustard Greens: Mustard greens are vegetables with many green leaves and are a favorite of iguanas. A cup of raw sliced mustard green leaves will provide about 1.5 grams of protein for your iguana.
● Other vegetables including arugula, chicory greens, escarole, and watercress.
The good thing with these veggies is that you can even combine them in your iguana’s dish as long as they do not exceed the recommended proportions.
So, there you have it. In this article, I have been able to answer whether iguanas can eat mice or not. And for emphasis, only young iguanas can eat mice in tiny quantities once a week. It would help if you never gave adult iguanas mice as it will adversely affect their health.