Does An Iguana Have Teeth?

Yes – of course, they do. I mean – is there any reptile that does not have teeth? Anyway, iguanas have between 80 and 120 razor-sharp teeth. As the reptile keeps growing, its jaw keeps lengthening, and more teeth are added behind those already in existence. The teeth that are added can be as many as four every year. The iguana regularly sheds teeth, so you will always find them with sharp plant shearers. The teeth of iguanas are replaced in their thousands throughout the reptiles’ lives.

This article will give a particular focus on what iguanas can do with their razor-sharp teeth. As they are reptiles, they have natural predatory instincts and are likely to act aggressively. You will get to know the danger and the risks associated with having iguanas as pets. Let’s go reptile!

Iguanas: Danger, Aggression, And Associated Risks

If you have an exotic pet – such as an iguana – you know that they make fascinating pets. However, how does it actually feel like to own one of the reptiles? Arey the considered a dangerous species? What are the details of their temperament? I made a move and decided to do some research on iguana perception and reality. In this read, you will get to know a lot of information regarding iguanas and their temperament.

So, are the large reptilian lizards dangerous? Well, many people do not consider iguanas as dangerous animals. When kept as exotic pets, however, they can harm their owners. Generally speaking, an iguana wouldn’t choose to attack their owner, but they would if they felt threatened or in danger. In the spirit of self-defense, iguanas can whip their large tails, scratch, and even bite. On the iguana’s skin is the salmonella bacteria. This means that anyone handling an iguana should be cautious while doing so.

If you get yourself equipped with the knowledge, practices, and strategies to be safe, there would be no reason why you can’t keep an iguana safely and enjoyable. Now, let us explore the topic at length to get info on treating your iguana well and remaining safe all the time.

Iguanas And Aggression

Generally speaking, iguanas are not the most aggressive reptiles. Actually, using the word ‘aggressive’ to describe iguanas would be an overstatement. While that is the case, even the most ordinarily well-behaved and docile iguanas may behave aggressively in specific contexts and situations.

If the iguana’s aggression does not come out frequently, nothing should worry the owner. However, if you are the owner, you need to be aware of all the cues that could express aggression.  This will help you to remain safe and be ready for any potential dangers.

Like other animal species, every iguana will have its temperament, traits, and behaviors. However, they all have commonalities in aggression, meaning that iguanas share different types of aggression. They include:

Iguana Aggression
AccidentalThis one can happen when the iguana is being fed, cleaned, or handled. When these accidental aggression incidents occur, they should not concern you. What you should have in mind is that the iguana did the harmful thing unintentionally.
Responding to FearIf the iguana feels cornered and is unable to flee, the feeling of being threatened may cause it to attack.
BreedingThis will only happen during the mating season when the male or female iguana have hormones running through their bodies.
CompetitiveThis is mainly displayed by most male iguanas and is a leveling-up of the breeding type of aggression. When the male iguanas show competitive aggression towards you, they view you as a barrier to a successful mating session.

If you want to help the iguanas manage their aggression, you need to work on environmental optimization. Also, never get them cornered and avoid provoking them. Keep an eye on the reptile’s behavior and body language. During times of stress, give them time and space to calm down.

Before you act aggressively towards an aggressive iguana, you need to understand that the abrasive behavior is instinctual; it is found in many other animals. What you need to do is have a keen eye to recognize it. Also, it would help if you made yourself aware of all the possible dangers. This will help you to remain secure all the time.

Iguana Risks

Like many pets, iguanas will come with their risks and dangers, which the owners should be aware of. For other pets, you can obviously know the kind of threats they pose and the far they can get. For example, a dog owner inherently knows that a day will come when the dog will bite them. A cat, too, will bite or scratch – those are the two worst things that can happen. However, iguanas are not straightforward to understand, and theirs is a complicated case.

These reptiles are uniquely made, and they have their requirements. With that said, you shouldn’t worry too much, especially when you have the right knowledge. The iguana’s case is complicated because they have only been domesticated and petted for a short time. So, for the most part, iguanas see domestication as captivity and you, their owner, as an enemy.  They have been developed and adapted to operating on their instincts, and they do not need human interaction and contact.

Although you can get an iguana trained, it will challenge you immensely as it doesn’t get comfortable being a pet. Regardless of how well you give them care, they will behave like wild animals whenever they feel like it. That is an essential piece of information to consider since it will affect how you interact and handle them.

In self-defense, iguanas are prone to lashing out to you. This implies that despite all your efforts to spend time and socializing with them, they will feel stress more easily and feel very threatened. As mentioned elsewhere, the iguanas usually act primarily instinctually as dictated by their ancestors’ genetic framework. The large lizards are always out to evade predators and escape. Because of those behavioral inclinations, they have evolved into agile and quick reptiles that can elude threats as they come. Whenever your pet iguana feels stressed out and uneasy, its instinctive response will be to escape the danger.

However, when escaping is not a viable option, the iguanas will go for the offensive option. Then, they will become as dangerous as they can get. The sharp teeth of iguanas can penetrate one’s skin easily. When that happens, open wounds are created, and you get opened up to the risk of developing a bacterial infection. The best and most effective way of ensuring that attacks do not happen is appropriate and adequate training for the iguanas. However, there are several dangers that iguana owners need to consider. Let us give them attention in the section that follows.

Iguana Dangers

As was implied in the previous section, iguanas can show very dangerous behaviors in specific contexts and certain times. Regardless of the temperament of the individual iguana, the reptile will always bring along some risks. Now, let us look at the common dangerous behaviors that an iguana can exhibit:

1. Biting

Usually, iguanas do not bite. But they will not hesitate to do it when they are in danger. If the lizard cannot flee, then it will put its razor-sharp teeth to the test. As an iguana owner, you should ensure that you never get the animal cornered since that will give them a reason to bite you. If you carefully manage the large lizard, biting will rarely happen.

When a bite occurs, you need to prepare because it is going to be very painful. This is because the reptiles have serrated and sharp teeth used to tear, break down, and shred various plant matter. Since the large lizards are vegetarians, they need the teeth to break down fibrous food. As you may imagine, the teeth can damage your skin significantly. So, you need always to be vigilant all the time; it doesn’t matter if you have gained your iguana’s trust or owned it for a long time.

The thought of an iguana’s bite is frightening, but remember that the biting is an unlikely occurrence. To prevent the bites, ensure that you don’t get them provoked.

2. Scratching

The iguana evolution has made them have long and sharp claws that they use to hang and climb in the wild. Iguanas that have been domesticated are no different; they inherited those characteristics and traits from their ancestors.

Beyond possessing and holding onto surfaces, iguanas use their claws as a defensive tool against several potential predators. If they feel that a situation is uncomfortable to them, they will claw their way out. So, you should be aware of their claws’ sharpness and that they can swing their hand and cause extensive damage to your skin. As with biting, you need to ensure that the iguana does not feel cornered or threatened.

Apart from the pain and injury associated with iguana scratches, there are also bacterial infections. It would help if you always took care that you don’t get the dangerous condition from a scratch attack.

3. The Tail Whip

Apart from the bite and the scratch, the other defensive techniques that the lizards employ is tail whipping. An iguana can grow up to 7 feet. Of that height, about 2 to 3 feet is of their tails. This means that, relatively speaking, iguanas are large reptiles.

While iguana tail whipping is not a common thing, you need to know the damage it can cause. Some interesting reports have it that the tail whip of an iguana can cause human bone breakage. That shouldn’t scare you because the tail whipping does not happen all the time. Remember that the first reaction iguanas display is trying to escape an uncomfortable situation.

4. The Salmonella Bacteria

This is a significant danger to focus on, especially for iguana owners. Many times, the salmonella bacterium is not mentioned because it is not overtly apparent. The bacteria cause gastrointestinal infections and pose a lot of health risks to humans. The CDC or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that salmonella only causes 420 deaths, 26,500 hospitalizations, and at least 1 million infections every year in the United States. The bacterium acts vigorously on the most vulnerable groups of people: the elderly, infants and toddlers, and people with weak immune systems. The news is that iguanas have this bacterium on the skin.

Since that is the case, the iguanas inadvertently transfer the bacterium across their enclosure, habitat, and environment. This means that it can get transferred to you while you are handling the iguana. So, you need to develop and maintain acceptable hygiene practices. Every time you are done holding the large lizard, it would be best to wash your hands using excellent anti-bacterial soap thoroughly.

Avoid Potential Iguana Danger And Risks

You must admit that the dangers listed above have put you a little on edge, isn’t it? You shouldn’t be because if the dangers and risks cannot be avoided, they can be diminished. The best, most efficient way to take care of the large lizard is by wrapping your head around their requirements. Also, you need to learn safe practices to adopt when being around an iguana.

Out there, you will find a lot of accessible information on caring for iguanas. You can also write a long list of questions to ask your vet when you take your iguana for a routine checkup. Since a vet is an expert on animals, they should answer most or all of the questions. If they cannot, you will be referred to a behaviorist who deals with iguanas, and as time progresses, you will definitely get to learn a lot of things. This section will give you some recommendations and suggestions to avoid making the iguana exhibit aggressive, dangerous, or risky behavior.

1. Preventing The Biting And The Scratching

As reiterated throughout the article, the best way to reduce the chances of an iguana biting you is by ensuring that it feels secure and safe. Any situation that will make them feel threatened should be quashed. Also, you need to know all the situations where iguanas feel intimidated and in danger. It would help if you learned about the signals that your iguana gives, especially when they are about to attack. A crucial thing you need to recognize is when the iguana is distressed. Please pay attention to how they look at their environment and the way they move.

Once you master the iguana’s pre-biting disposition, it will be easy for you to prevent the danger. You will get enough time to get out of the vicinity and move out of harm’s way.

If you, unfortunately, get bitten, it is likely that you will need medical attention. As mentioned elsewhere, you need to be mindful of the infection. If the iguana’s teeth are still stuck in your skin, you will need to remove the lizard. Because of their nature and shape, the iguana is likely to hang on to where they bite.

One of the popular techniques put out by some iguana owners is using alcohol. While the iguana’s teeth are dug inside your skin, you should get someone to take a cotton swab or ball and drench it in alcohol. Then, the cotton item should be put near the iguana’s mouth. Since the large lizards do not like alcoholic odor, they will release your skin. Press the same cotton swab on the wound to stop the blood flow. The alcohol should take care that you don’t get any bacterial infection. A precautionary measure you can take up is putting some of the alcohol near the cage.

After you have rubbed the wound with alcohol, the best course of action is to head to the hospital. This should be done quickly, especially if the scars are deep. The attending medical practitioner is likely to stitch the wound up. Also, you will be given some antibiotics. As iguana biting can occur at any time, you need always to be vigilant.

Since you know that the animal can bite, you should start looking at getting something to cover yourself up. When you are handling the iguana, ensure that your hands are covered up with a pair of gloves. The gloves you should buy should be durable and have the ability to prevent wrist or hand scratches.

Since consistency is the key, ensure that you handle the iguanas with gloves at all times. This will help the animals to get used to you. If you attempt to handle the lizard without getting covered up, it may develop stress and start scratching. It may go to the extent of biting you.

To develop a good bond with your iguana, start by touching it with your bare hands regularly. This will work well if the iguana is young. When it grows older and bigger, you can start getting your hands covered.

For scratching, the quickest and most obvious solution is to get the lizard’s claws trimmed. On the market, there are a lot of products that can assist you in the trimming business. Vets and experts recommend that the nail clipping be done every week. Since the iguana will feel uneasy and uncomfortable when you’re ‘doing its nails,’ you need to be extra careful so that it doesn’t express some form of aggression toward you. Over time, your iguana will learn to trust the regular trimming and will get used to everything. And as you trim the lizard’s nails, ensure that you get your gloves on. This is because the nails will sometimes be a little too long. It would be best if you didn’t forget that you are more likely to get scratched during the trimming than at any other time.

When the iguana scratches your skin, use some warm water and safe soap. Apart from cleaning the wound, this process will ensure that no bacteria will grow inside.

2. Preventing The Tail Whip

This reaction by the iguana will most likely happen when the large lizard feels trapped. So, the way to avoid getting a tail whip is the same as the one of avoiding bites. You may want to pay keen attention to the iguana’s behavior. This will ensure that the lizards do not attack.

The thing you shouldn’t do is touch the tail of the reptile. Never try picking up the iguana by its tail, and do not hold that area. If you do, the iguana will feel stressed since the happenings are not natural events.

3. Preventing Salmonella Bacteria

The most effective and efficient practices for preventing salmonella are good hygiene and sanitation. Do not fault the iguanas for having the bacteria on their skin – the microorganisms are there naturally. It does not imply that the iguanas are sick or need cleaning. Actually, it would help if you never tried cleaning the iguana in a bid to remove the bacterium from its body and skin.

To prevent the negative bacterial consequences, you need to ensure that your hands are clean regularly. The cleaning should come after the times you are done handling the iguana. It would also be best to be careful of whatever thing you touch after interacting with the large lizard. This is essential since you may spread salmonella to different surfaces without knowing. In that case, therefore, do not bite your nails, pick your nose, or touch your face after having a touchy session with your pet iguana.

As we still address the salmonella issue, you need to know that the iguana’s cage is likely to have the bacteria. This is because the lizard will be moving freely inside the enclosure and will be touching things. It would make great sense if you also had a hand sanitizer near the enclosure. Since the enclosure will need regular cleaning, always do thorough disinfection and deep cleaning of the place. Avoid using water from the iguana’s bowl as it is likely to have salmonella in it. If you decide to wash your iguana or their enclosure, do not do it near the place where your food is prepared.

Advise anyone who has a weak immune system not to pet the iguana. If they insist, advise them to get their hands clean after handling the large lizard. Salmonella may be a dangerous bacterium, but you can beat it by maintaining adequate and proper hygiene practices and habits.

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