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What Do Desert Iguanas Eat?

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The desert iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) is a relatively big species of reptile that resides in the western region of the United States, including in Arizona, California, Nevada and southern regions of Utah. These robust, plant-eating creatures inhabit arid desert environments and are particularly common in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts.

About Desert Iguanas

These diurnal reptiles possess rather stubby limbs, thin toes, lengthy tails and slender heads. Their overall physiques are rather narrow, and they generally are around 16 inches in length, according to the Rosamund Gifford Zoo. In terms of body coloration, desert iguanas usually are off-white or light gray, with lighter stomachs. Their tails are covered with many brown specks.

Diet of the Desert Iguana

Desert iguanas are, for the most part but not always, herbivorous creatures. The bulk of the desert iguana wild diet consists of components, such as fruit, foliage and flowers. Most of the foliage and flowers these iguanas take in comes from greasewood, although sand verbena flowers are another favorite. Occasionally, desert iguanas also consume fecal matter, either from themselves or from other mammalian and reptilian species. They also occasionally dine on bugs. Very young desert iguanas are more likely to eat bugs, however. Where flowers are concerned, desert iguanas usually are partial to yellow ones, according to the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Carrion and Desert Iguanas

Despite the basic herbivorous nature of desert iguanas, they also once in a while feed on carrion, the rotting and decaying carcasses of previously killed animals.

Captive Diets for Desert Iguanas

Desert iguanas that live in captive settings, like zoos, also readily feed on crickets and mealworms, both of which are non-plant items. They also consume typical herbivorous diets with elements including leafy greens, beans and yams. Desert iguanas, which often are kept as household pets, usually are fed similar diets, with lots of parsley, collard greens, watercress, mustard greens, alfalfa, flowers and fruit, such as tiny pieces of apples, grapes, peaches, oranges and bananas, for a few examples. Foods that are bright and big on color usually are a hit with these iguanas, and not just in yellow, as mentioned previously.