Understanding Green Iguana Behaviors

 Understanding Green Iguana Behaviors

How do you know when an Iguana is mad?


Green iguanas will give you signs to show that they are upset with you. Biting, tail whipping, and their dewlap flaring are several signs of green iguana defense.



Green iguanas are becoming very popular as pets. However, this does not mean that they can be fully domesticated. They are larger reptiles that can be a little bit temperamental. If you want an iguana that is as tame as it can be, you have to handle them often from a very young age. It takes time for green iguanas to get used to human interaction. 


Your main priority with your iguana is to build trust and to like you. Feeding and spending time with your iguana will be a lot more enjoyable in the future if you regularly interact with them. 


As iguanas become older they will start to act more lazy and just bask in the sun or under their light all day. They can also be very docile. Many pet iguanas will even want to climb on their owners to relax. Make sure you wear thick clothing because they have very sharp nails. 

Signs of Aggression



It is common for an iguana to bite their owner if they are extremely unhappy. Biting is also another sign that they feel threatened or anxious. Mating season is also a rough time for iguana owners too because this is when the males are extremely aggressive. 



The dewlap is that long piece of skin that dangles from their neck. If this is flared out, be careful. When iguanas are content, they will usually flare the dewlap out to regulate heat. However, if they feel threatened or upset they can flare it out too. Flaring their dewlap is also a sign of trying to establish dominance. Carefully watch their body language to see if they are actually upset when they flare their dewlap.


-Tail Whipping

Tail whipping is extremely dangerous for humans. Iguana tails are so powerful that a tail whip could severely injure you. People have had broken bones because of tail whipping. If you see that tail start to twitch, stay away. Give your iguana some space. Keep young children away from iguanas as well when they are visibly upset. Their tails can break skin easily too. 



Iguanas will hiss to try and sound threatening. It is one of the first warnings they can give for you to back off. They will also try to make their bodies look larger while hissing to keep unwanted guests away. 

Signs of Friendly Behaviors


-Eye contact

Green iguanas can be very curious creatures and their eyes will show it. When an iguana’s eyes are extremely dilated they are being curious and observant. If they have their eyes shut around you, they feel very comfortable with you and enjoy your company. 


-Head bobbing

Other reptiles use the head bob for multiple reasons. Slow head bobs are their way of greeting or saying hello. More aggressive head bobs are to display dominance or show signs of being angry. 


-Body shape

Your iguana is really happy to see you or feels relaxed with you if their bodies are looking very round. Rounded bodies mean that their muscles are relaxed. They are comfortable with you. Green iguanas will often look like they are being lazy if they feel content with their owners. 

Skin Coloring


The skin on an iguana can change from lighter to darker shades. This is just a sign that they are regulating heat. If their skin is very bright all of the time, they are probably getting too much heat. This will cause them discomfort and make them upset. Darker coloring means that they are not getting enough heat. Proper lighting and humidity in their enclosures will keep them at a stable temperature and help them have a healthy shedding cycle. 

Keep This In Mind


Green iguanas are proving to become very popular pets among reptile parents. They still require a lot of work and patience. If you want a friendly iguana, you are going to have to put in a lot of time and effort into building a connection with them. A lot of iguanas are set loose or re-homed because the owner could not keep up with the maintenance. Re-homing or being set loose can be traumatic for iguanas. They depend on you to feed them, keep their enclosures clean, and to teach them how to be comfortable with human interaction. 


Be prepared to be scratched a few times or even bit, because they will never fully become domesticated. They will learn how to coexist with you in your home as long as their needs are being met. Iguanas are a huge responsibility. 

Wrapping Up


Green iguanas have a docile temperament once they become older as long as they had a lot of human interaction growing up. Hissing, tail whipping, and biting are major signs of aggression and how iguanas protect themselves. Make sure you are ready to take on the responsibility of owning an iguana through the good and bad moments. 

Jade Messieh

Proud bearded dragon, tortoise, crested gecko, and green tree python mom. I've always been passionate about animals and hope to help other reptile & amphibian enthusiasts along their journey!

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