Sometimes people get freaked out because their baby iguanas haven’t eaten any food, but have in mind that iguana hatchling absorb the yolk sac up to two weeks after they’ve been born. So, after that period you can start to give them a little bit of food.
Hand feeding is much easier, and more successful, if you do it right after iguana’s basking. You’ve got to keep these guys temperatures in the mid 80s °F (30°C ) and you have to provide basking temperature that’s at least a hundred degrees (between 100 and 110 °F, or 37-43°C) to raise their metabolism. Remember, in the wilderness, iguanas live on rocks which heat up on the sun, comfortably warming our lizards. After that, they are ready for some snack, start moving around, they’re looking for weeds, leaves and fruits that have fallen on the ground. In short, you have to keep those temperatures high enough to stimulate their appetite.
For the main meal, prepare some collard greens, shredded yellow squash and shredded carrots. It’s good idea to use yellow squash and shredded carrots because of their bright color, which makes this food attractive. Food must not be cold – if you use frozen vegetables, leave them outside of the fridge long enough to reach the room temperature. For detailed info about iguana food, what is good, what is bad and what is absolutely forbidden in their diet, check out our article about iguana diet.
As a first step, get your baby ig out of his enclosure (you can’t hand feed him inside the enclosure.) Now, adjust the way how you hold it, gently hold his mouth with one hand. You will feed him with another hand.
As you see, in this approach, we will use both hands to hand feed an iguana – one hand to hold him, the other one to offer him food. It would be easier just to give him food while he’s standing free, but remember – we’re talking about newborn, untamed reptile here.
Now, let’s put a little food right on the tip of his nose. He might get annoyed and open his mouth, which is exactly what we want. Remember, we took the ‘warm’ iguana, right after the basking session, so he will be active, a bit aggressive, most likely will try to defend himself by opening his mouth, which is our plan.
As he opens his mouth you just put a little pressure on the edge. Gently push this food into his mouth. Don’t worry, you can’t choke him (this can happen only if you tube feed the animal, but that’s totally different situation.) Once the food gets past a certain point in their throat, they will swallow it on their own.
Observe as he starts to taste it and pulls it down on his own. He starts to learn the taste of the food he’s going to be eating. If he keeps his mouth open, you can give him a little bit more. Don’t worry too much about the amount of food you’re offering to him, his own teeth will fight it off and we can just let him, after a little struggle, to finish swallowing it.
If iguana doesn’t want to open his mouth, try this: instead of food, place the fingernail, of your index finger, right against the tip of iguana’s mouth and push it gently, a bit by bit, and try to make him open his mouth. Sometimes patience is involved.
You don’t want to do this with the adult iguana. It’s a little bit more difficult if you have a sick adult iguana since they can really give you a good bite.
When you’re done with hand feeding, you will place this plate into iguanas’ enclosure and give them the chance to of sniff it later, on their own. Don’t forget to remove any leftovers later – fungi can appear and make you big problems. Remember to keep iguana’s enclosure clean all the times.
Just reassure them and let them know that this is not something that’s going to hurt. In some way, hand feeding is a really cool process and helps bonding you and your animal together. So, a little bit of effort will pay off eventually.