The Iguana is one of the most popular reptile breeds in America because it’s fairly large and fun to raise. One question we get a lot concerning the Iguana is what type of plants are safe to keep in the terrarium. Plants can help your pet feel more at home, but many people are afraid to add plants for fear that they could be toxic. We’ve created a list of several plants you can add to your reptile’s habitat safely to help them feel more protected and less anxious. For each entry, we’ll tell you a little about the plant and provide you with a picture so you can see what it looks like and determine if it’s right for you and your pet.
Best Plants For Iguana Habitats
1. Prickly Pear
The official name of Prickly Pear is Opuntia. It’s an entirely edible plant that is safe to use in your Iguana habitat and can get quite large in the wild, often growing up to 23 feet tall. It’s 88% water and is a good food source for your pet, but you should look for species without spikes or remove them as they grow to prevent injury to your pet.
2. Devils Ivy
The official name of Devils Ivy is Epipremnum aureum. It’s a flowering plant that gets the name Devils Ivy because it is extremely difficult to kill and will even stay green in the dark. It does well in dry environments and is very leafy, so it will provide plenty of food if your Iguana starts to chew on it. Devils Ivy is toxic to dogs, cats, and humans, but there are no reported cases of illness concerning iguanas, and they live amongst the plant in Florida.
3. Aechmea Recurvata
Aechmea Recurvata is a colorful plant from South America. It’s a perfect way to make the environment your pet lives in more colorful. It works well when you plant it directly into the substrate and grows well in most light. It’s not toxic to cats or dogs, and it’s very popular and easy to find. Popular plants like this are often less expensive, which is great if your Iguana liked to eat them.
4. Tradescantia Zebrina
Tradescantia Zebrina is another colorful plant you can use to brighten up your pet’s habitat as well as provide them with food and shelter. It’s a low-lying plant that can form into a dense mat and will provide plenty of shelter for your Iguana that it will love. It’s extremely hardy but can cause skin irritations to humans, so you will need to watch it with your pet and remove it if you notice any problems developing.
5. Snake Plant
The official name of the Snake plant is Sansevieria Trifasciata. This plant is from West Africa and forms dense stands of dark green leaves standing two to three feet tall. It’s extremely hardy and can withstand dry conditions, making it perfect for a Rock Iguana tank. This plant can create a good hide for your pet, but most iguanas will find it too tough to eat.
6. China Rose
The official name of the China Rose is Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis. This plant is highly ornamental and will improve the appearance of any habitat. It can stand up to 16-feet tall with bright red flowers that last from summer to fall. It can be challenging to make bloom indoors without the proper light, but the flowers are a favorite food of the Iguana, and it will be worth the effort to obtain some.
7. Nephrolepis Exaltata
Nephrolepis Exaltata is a low-lying evergreen that is quite common in Florida. It’s a popular houseplant and is easy to find in most nurseries around the United States. It’s non-toxic to humans and pets and is well suited to tropical Green Iguana habitats. It survives in low light and creates a natural hide, but it can be quite bushy, robbing the terrarium of space.
8. Elkhorn Fern
The official name of the Elkhorn Fern is Platycerium Bifurcatum. This rainforest plant comes from Australia and is a perfect addition to the Green Iguana habitat. It’s a common houseplant that shouldn’t be hard to find at your local nursery. It’s harmless to cats and dogs and will grow on elevated areas in the habitat.
9. Heartleaf Philodendron
The official name of the Heartleaf Philodendron is Philodendron Heracleum. This large plant can grow up to 20 feet tall and may occasionally produce white flowers. It’s one of the more common plants to find in the tropical environments of the Green Iguana and other reptile species. It’s a climbing vine, so it’s easy to convince it to grow in many different ways that wouldn’t be possible with other plants.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this list and found a few plants you would like to try out in your terrarium. If you have a Cuban Rock Iguana or other species that require a dry environment, we highly recommend Prickly Pear or a Snake Plant at first to see how they grow and how you’re your pet reacts. If you have a Green Iguana or other tropical species, we recommend starting with the Elkhorn Fern or Nephrolepis Exaltata for the best chance of success. Once you have some experience, we recommend trying one of the more difficult plants, like the China Rose. This plant is extremely colorful and will provide your pet with a tasty treat.
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Featured Image Credit: Pickpik
Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.