Are Iguanas Dangerous to Humans, Dogs, And Cats?

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

Is it unsafe to acquire an animal? This question is among the first and essential considerations individuals have before purchasing a pet.

Iguanas, possibly rather than other lizards, are in this circumstance. These animals are much bigger and have got involved in several high-profile incidents.

Are iguanas dangerous? They are not dangerous as long as you don’t bother them and treat them well all the time. Even when these reptiles are friendly and gentle, it’s best to think carefully before adopting one.

If you are curious about this species, you should refer to this article to get in-depth explanations of their aggressive behaviors.

Let’s scroll down to learn more.

What Are Iguanas?

are iguanas dangerous

Iguanas are big lizards with spikes protruding from the necks, backs, tails, heads, stocky posture, and drooping skin on the throats.

According to the San Diego Zoo report, Green iguanas are the longest. From their nose to their tail, it reaches approximately 5 – 7 feet.

The spiny-tailed iguanas are the smallest, which can reach a length of 4.9 – 39 feet. Blue iguanas are the heaviest of the iguana species.

Since these reptiles are cold-blooded, they prefer warm temperatures. In other words, as these animals can’t adjust to internal heat inside their bodies, they rely on the external temperature to stay warm.

These giant lizards are common in Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean islands, the Galápagos Islands, Madagascar, and Fiji.

Subtropical and tropical forests, coastlines, and deserts are also their homes.

This species is primarily herbivores, meaning they exclusively eat fruits, young leaves, and flower buds.

According to National Geographic, marine iguanas will collect their food by peeling microalgae from sea rocks or eating seaweed.

Crickets, worms, young mice, and foliage are favorites of pet and wild iguanas.

Despite being reasonably challenging to care for entirely, these giant lizards are among the most common reptiles adopted in the U. S.

With proper care, they can live up to 15 or 20 years.

Here are the top 10 common iguana types you should know:

  • Green Iguana
  • Cuban Rock Iguana
  • Desert Iguana
  •  Rhinoceros Iguana
  • Northeastern Spiny Tailed Iguana
  • Chuckwallas
  • Fiji Banded Iguana
  • Marine Iguanas
  • Jamaican Iguana
  • Bahamian Rock Iguanas

Are Iguanas Dangerous?

Many people question if these animals are dangerous because they may grow so enormous.

You should put practices to keep you, your pet, and your family members safe when keeping any animals as pets.

These reptiles aren’t exempt from this rule. They may pose a threat to people, but only under specific conditions.

For instance, these big lizards may become hazardous if you provide improper care or treat them poorly.

Unlike the poisonous cobras who make terrible pets, iguanas can be adopted.

If you plan to get one, you may not know how to bathe it. You can watch this video for useful tips:

The iguana’s personality varies from individual to individual. Some get relatively tame when you keep them as pets, while others are rarely truly close to humankind.

Understanding your iguana’s temperament, body movements, and what they love and hate will help you keep your lizard happy.

As a result, they won’t be a threat to you. These animals can be dangerous; therefore, treating them with respect is essential.

Iguana assaults are uncommon, fortunately. Most of them are not violent toward humankind or other species unless agitated or provoked.

They also show various warning signs before attacking, such as quick head bobbing, aggressive tail whipping, and hissing.

That said, it’s hard to say with certainty that these animals will never hurt you or anybody else.

When you keep this reptile, there is a chance that it will happen. Bite attacks without provocation are uncommon, although they do occur.

Read more: Do Chameleons Make Good Pets?

Do Iguanas Bite?

It’s hard for you to see iguanas’ teeth, but they have many teeth.

Their teeth are fully-formed when they are born so that they can tear through dense-growing plants right away.

Some rare omnivorous reptiles with strong teeth may shred bugs or other animal things apart.

Iguanas’ mouths are divided into quadrants, each with 20 to 30 teeth. In other words, an iguana’s mouth can contain anywhere between 80 and 120 teeth.

Their teeth are continually developing, wearing down, and being substituted by new ones. So, each iguana’s overall number of teeth might fluctuate.

Those teeth are tiny and transparent, yet they are incredibly sharp. They are similar to the blade on a meat cleaver and have a sharp edge.

Iguanas may bite and cause severe injury to other animals or humans, although they usually use sharp teeth to rip at plants.

However, their teeth aren’t the only thing that can cause problems.

These animals have potent muscles and jawbones that may clamp down on an attacker and cause serious injuries.

How Bad Is Iguanas Bite?

When determining how threatening iguanas are, it’s essential to consider how painful their bite is.

This giant lizard will cling to your finger, hand, and wrist and refuse to leave off.

If you fight and start drawing your finger back, you injure yourself even more.

Tearing and ripping may happen, and this wound might quickly deteriorate. These reptiles are capable of biting the bone.

They can leave terrible sores that need stitches or, in rare situations, surgery to heal.

Iguanas’ mouth and skin often contain and transmit salmonella bacteria and severe bites.

If these large lizards bite, break the skin and draw blood, they become more deadly.

As being pleurodont, these animals frequently lose their teeth whenever they bite.

Thus, these small teeth can get stuck in the bite wounds, causing bacterial infections in some bad situations.

A few severe face injuries have been reported in newspapers worldwide, but these are genuinely uncommon instances.

iguanas might bite if threatened

What To Do If Iguanas Bite You?

If an iguana attaches to you, it’s best to get it to let go of your fingers without starting to move them away.

A rubbing alcohol-soaked towel placed on its face may cause it to loosen its grip.

Ammonia may have the same effect. In the event of a bite, keep those liquids on your hand.

Pull carefully on the iguana’s dewlap while holding it upside down. The half-moon-shaped skin membrane on its neck can cause it to lose its grasp.

These animals carry bacteria like salmonella in the mouth. You should immediately cleanse that wound with a soapy mixture if you’ve been bitten.

If your wound necessitates it, seek immediate medical attention. Keep that area clean as much as possible.

This species also carries salmonella on the skin, so it’s critical to wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.

Do not dangle or throw it because this will trigger its jaws to grip down even tighter.

Another helpful strategy in this scenario is to lower the iguana slowly and cautiously to the ground. This way will provide it with a more stable foundation.

Why Are They Aggressive?

It’s crucial to remember that iguanas have been almost commonly recognized as friendly and agreeable pets.

They’re laid-back and don’t have a natural tendency to be aggressive. Instead of fighting, the primary reaction to threats is to flee or hide.

If you properly care for them and carefully treat them, it’s hard to see them bite or attack you, except for specific emergencies to protect themselves.

Tame them, acquire their affection, and try to understand their nonverbal cues, and you’ll be OK.

So, why do iguanas become aggressive? Their behavior is affected by a variety of psychological influences and instinctual tendencies.

These animals frequently don’t respond to events in the same manner from one day to another. There are many reasons for their aggressive behaviors.

There are many factors affecting an iguana’s anger, worry, or nervousness, such as:

They have a strong sense of belonging.

  • This tendency appears stronger in certain iguanas than in many other species.
  • They may aggressively retaliate if humans intrude into their space.

There is a dominant streak that is alpha male-like.

  • In general, males are much more aggressive and violent than females.
  • The desire for dominance instilled in alpha males might manifest in aggressive behaviors.

They have a hormonal imbalance.

  • Some iguanas change their appearance from day to day.
  • This aggression is most likely the result of hormonal changes.

They might be in a bad mood.

  • Your iguana may be grumpy from time to time.
  • Keep an eye out for the signals and let them alone for a while.

What Are The Potential Dangers Of Iguanas?

If you plan to adopt an iguana, you should consider the following potential dangers:


Most reptiles carry bacteria called salmonella. It may be on their enclosures, on their skin, and in their habitats.

Although these reptiles can transmit salmonella, which does not imply you should avoid touching them.

If you contact this lizard, remember to wash your hands promptly with warm soapy water.

Tail Whipping

Iguanas have lengthy tails and can grow up to over 5 feet long. When an iguana feels threatened, it uses its vast and powerful tail to defend itself.


These animals have long, keen claws that allow them to climb quickly. Scratching is the fastest way they use when they need to make a rapid escape or try to defend themselves.

Although scratches are less dangerous than their bites, they pose a risk due to Salmonella on their claws.

What Are Warning Signs When Iguanas Are About To Attack?

Paying close attention to an iguana’s nonverbal cues will assist you in figuring out when they’re getting harmful.

Allow this animal to calm down whenever you detect any one of these behaviors:

  • Hiss
  • Lower the dewlap
  • Stand on all four legs to look bigger
  • Shake the head slowly or quickly
  • Puff up the physique after taking a long breath to appear more prominent.

These animals may bite even when they show no signal, but this case is rare. There are always reasons for their aggression.

When they are violent and aggressive, it’s best to leave them alone. Never try boring one, or you can get unwanted behaviors.

How To Tame Iguanas?

It’s best to wait two weeks after your iguana has come into your home before beginning the taming procedure. This time is long enough for it to adapt to the new surroundings.

Here are some valuable tips if you want to tame an iguana:

  • Among the most crucial aspects of controlling an iguana is developing a predictable schedule.
  • Feed your pet with a fixed schedule regularly.
  • Talk and pet it every day at the same period.
  • Make it a lot of habits to follow. Routine gives a sense of comprehension and relaxation.
  • Handle it softly yet firmly, and try to maintain control.
  • Show it you’re not a threat.
  • Control it if it shows symptoms of hostility.


Can I Touch Iguanas?

Although iguanas contain salmonella, which does not imply you should avoid touching them.

As regularly as possible, sanitize and clean the iguana’s surroundings. If you contact one, wash your hands promptly with soapy water.

Can An Iguana Bite Your Finger Off?

An iguana biting off a finger is a rare occurrence.

Do Iguanas Like Humans?

It’s hard to answer this question. These lizards usually don’t show aggression toward humans until you bother them.

What Smell Do Iguanas Hate?

Iguanas dislike the smells of onions, garlic, chili peppers, and other herbs.

Do Iguanas Like To Be Held?

For pet iguanas, they might be like being held, but wild ones are not sure.

If you want to tame one, you should gradually form it into the habit of loving being petted and held.

The purpose is to let it know that you are not a threat to it.

The Bottom Line

After reading this article, have you got the answer to the question: Are iguanas dangerous? We hope your response is yes.

In general, these reptiles don’t always behave aggressively and violently. They only pose a threat when you do some actions they consider dangerous.

An iguana may bite if it feels threatened. If you’re bitten, apply one of the above solutions to deal with this problem. Also, consider other potential dangers before adopting one, especially when you have kids.