Feeding Your Iguana Bread – Should You?

With reptiles becoming more popular as pets in the 21st Century, iguanas have gained recognition. Many iguanas are being raised as domestic pets today. However, many questions are asked about what they eat because they are not the typical mammalian house pets. One of the popular diet questions is:

Can iguanas eat bread? Yes, iguanas can eat bread. Nevertheless, you should not give your iguana bread more than once a week as it is not part of its main diet and could cause it to have health issues if eaten exclusively.

What kind of bread should I give my iguana? How much bread should I give it? Is there a specific method of preparing my iguana’s bread? What are the side effects associated with my iguana consuming bread? 

Do you have questions like these and are looking for answers? Then keep reading as we go over all of that below. 


Why Should You Regulate Your Iguana’s Bread Consumption?

Bread is a delicious meal made from flour in most cases. There are also other ingredients involved, such as sugar, milk, and eggs, among others. The flour itself is obtained from wheat or other plants like cassava and yam. In contrast, the rest are mostly animal products.

Iguanas are primarily plant-eaters or herbivores, which means that their entire diet should be composed of plants and vegetables. 

Being specifically folivores, they tend to pick a particular interest for leafy vegetables, which takes up a majority of their diet.

Iguanas’ bodies are designed in such a way that they obtain all of their nutrients from the plants they eat. Because of this adaptation, as they grow older, their bodies become less tolerant to animal protein. Even when they are young, they still have issues digesting protein, which is why you shouldn’t give your iguana large portions of meat, milk, or other animal products.

What does bread have to do with this? 

The typical flour bread has some ingredients that are animal-based, for example, milk. As aforementioned, iguanas cannot process animal protein that easily. 

For every 25cl glass of milk added to bread, 6.8 grams of protein comes with it. This does change the protein scale of the bread. How about eggs. Most times, egg yolk is used alongside yeast to thicken the bread. One large yolk contains about 2.7 grams of protein. This amount is relatively high.

So, how much of these are actually in the bread when it is baked? A slice or 25 grams of white flour bread contains about 2.3 grams of protein, most animal-based. It may not seem like much, but when your compare this value to what comes out of typical foliage that your iguana eats, it’s relatively high.

Twenty-five grams of collard greens, a leafy plant that iguanas like, has only 0.8 grams of protein. And not just any protein, but plant-based protein, which your iguana can metabolize more easily than animal protein.

Furthermore, bread contains a lot of sugar. Sugar is needed to make the bread tastier. And because bread isn’t explicitly made for iguanas, there is more sugar in it than should be given to them.

A 25-gram slice of white flour bread has about 1.3 grams of sugar. Again, this may not seem to be much of a problem when you’re not comparing it with what your iguana should eat. Twenty-five grams of collard greens contains only 0.1 grams of sugar. Nevertheless, the difference in sugar content is noticeable. 

Apart from all these, we can consider the fiber content of white bread. Because flour is made from processed wheat or cassava, it will reduce the fiber content. As a result, only 0.7 grams of fiber are in 25 grams of white bread. Meanwhile, the same amount of collard greens has about 1 gram of collard greens. The difference may seem insignificant, but when you replace foliage that your iguana should eat with white bread, you will cause many health issues.

Which health issues will arise from giving my iguana bread? This may be the question on your mind having read this far. So would you mind keeping reading as I will be explaining the health issues associated with your iguana eating bread?


Diseases Linked to Feeding Your Iguana Bread Exclusively or In High Amounts

Since bread is not the natural food your iguana eats, several health risks are associated with giving your iguana too much bread. Some of them are

Renal Failure

Iguanas have kidneys just like humans do. Their kidneys help to filter off material that shouldn’t be in their bloodstream. Excess animal protein from bread in high quantities will need to be removed from your iguana’s body. Your iguana’s kidneys will work extra hard to filter them out. And because iguanas have fewer nephrons — active parts of kidneys involved infiltration — than other vertebrates, they find it challenging to filter off harmful material continuously. If you keep giving your iguana bread consistently, you raise its chances of losing its kidneys’ functionality. And if its kidneys cannot filter off unwanted, harmful material, your iguana will eventually die of them.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is not a normal thing for iguanas. Their digestive system absorbs so much water that their feces are in pellets. However, too much water and too little fiber in food give to iguanas can cause it. Therefore, your iguana will most likely have diarrhea when you provide it with bread more often than you should. 

Diarrhea is more of an issue for iguanas because they lose a lot of water when their stool is too watery. Iguanas constantly need water in high quantities to regulate their body temperature and digest the high-fiber food they consume. Therefore, the inadequate water level in their body could be fatal.

Obesity

Obesity in iguanas is caused by an excess of calories in their bodies. Sugar in foods can drastically increase a food’s calorie count while it lacks some essential nutrients. For example, white flour bread has a lot of sugar for your iguana, as I have established earlier. Because of the high sugar content it has, white bread has a lot of calories. There are 66 calories in a 25-gram slice of it, which is relatively high compared with the calorie count of the same amount of collard greens as there are only eight calories in 25 grams of collard greens. As calories accumulate in the body of your iguana, it tends to become fat. And since domesticated iguanas cannot have as much exercise as iguanas in the wild, they will not burn off the fat.

Heart Failure

Fat levels in white bread can cause heart failure in your iguana. Triglycerides present in your iguana can accumulate and become mobile in its bloodstream when it eats food. These special fat cells can settle and clot in the blood vessels of your iguana’s heart which will reduce the efficiency with which its heart pumps blood around its body. And in an unfortunate event where your iguana faces too much difficulty in circulating blood, it could die of cardiac arrest. 

There are many health risks associated with replacing your iguana’s natural food with white bread or feeding it too much it. So you must be wondering if there’s a kind of bread that you can give your iguana that will not have these effects on it. Well, there are different varieties of bread you can provide your iguana without having too much of an impact on your iguana. 

Would you mind keeping reading as I will be talking about these bread next?


Which Kind of Bread Is Good For Your Iguana?

Not all bread is harmful to your iguana. Some breeds with low fat and sugar and high fiber content are perfect for your iguana. Some of them are:

  • Oat Bread: As the name implies, oat bread is explicitly made from whole grain oats. Well-prepared oat bread should have little or no sugar and more fiber than white bread. These low amounts are significant to your iguana’s health.
  • Sourdough: Sourdough is bread made from the natural fermentation processes of yeast. Not only does it improve mineral digestion, but sourdough also comes with no fat at all, and varieties without sugar come with fewer calories and more fiber — there are about 3 grams of fiber for every 47 grams of sourdough.
  • Whole Grain Wheat Bread: Bread made from complete grain wheat with no sugar added is perfect for your iguana since it comes with more fiber and little or no fat.

How Much Bread Should You Give Your Iguana?

While these slices of bread, as mentioned above, may not have a lot of sugar, protein, and fat, it is still essential to regulate what your iguana eats. 

Bread is not your iguana’s natural food, so you should not give your iguana more than a slice of any of the above bread once a week. 

This amounts to at most 45 grams of either oat, sourdough, or whole wheat bread per week. You should always ensure that the bread is broken into tiny pieces as your iguana will not be able to swallow it whole.

In conclusion, I have been able to answer whether iguanas can eat bread in this article. Yes, iguanas can eat bread but in limited amounts once per week because of the health issues it can cause them to have.