An iguana's bite is much worse than his bark. I cannot stress enough how important it is to socialize your iguana, spend time with him everyday and get to know his body language. Without this knowledge you have a danger in your house and a danger to your family.

There are different types of bites and body language that will warn you.

Accidental bite:

You hand feed your iguana and you accidentally get a nip on the finger. Nothing to worry about. I hand feed my iguana very often and he picks up tiny things like peas with his tongue. My iguana concentrate on not biting me.

Investigative bite

Your iguana investigate a new item or picks up an unfamiliar smell on you, he will flick his tongue a few times and then give a little bite 'to see if it will bite back.' Your iguana does not apply any pressure and it is really nothing to worry about.

Fear biting

You are taming your iguana and he lashes out with his tail and bite you. This is low pressure bites and really not something to worry about.

Territorial bite

Territory means everything to your iguana, he or she must be the dominant one at all times - in their eyes. It is a very bad idea to have more than one iguana in your home, you will always have problems.
When your iguana wants to dominate you while out of his habitat you need to simply push him away and tell him 'NO'. Never allow your iguana to sit on your head or to jump towards you. Your iguana must know at all times that you are the boss and he must never see any fear in you!

When your iguana shows territorial aggression while in his own habitat then it is best to leave him alone until a bit later, they do not stay in this mood all the time. If you HAVE to take your iguana out of his habitat then you need to move in fast and direct. Do not make eye contact, go in and take him and walk out, dont hesitate for one second, just do it.

Here is a video showing territorial aggression, pay attention to what your iguana tells you or you will pay the price. Dont try and dominate him in his own territory, respect him and move away.

Iguana jumping right through a window trying to kill his reflection.

Mating bite

Your iguana is in breeding season and wants to mate with you. He will bite onto you like he would bite a female. This is not a dangerous bite, however your iguana holds on until he is finished. If you try and push him away he will become aggressive and bite harder. It is pointless holding your hand and your iguana that is attached to your hand under water - it does not work - already tried that. The best is to have alcohol ready and hold it under his nose, if he still does not let go you can try and poor it in his mouth. If he is attached to your clothes then you need to gently remove that item that you are wearing, be careful to not hurt his teeth. My iguana once attacked me while we were in the car, we had to pull off so that I could take off my shirt and hide under the dashboard until he was done. We tried to give him a jersey instead of my shirt but he was so 'lost' during that time that he did not even notice that we were there.

Breeding season aggression

Males in breeding season loose their minds and it is not possible to dominate them. They might get the urge to chase you out of his territory which is the entire house. If he comes for you then you need to either pick him up swiftly and move him to his habitat or get out of his way.

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With permission from Steve at

Female iguana did this:
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A bite right through a glove:

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From here: Iguana bite

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Please be careful and respect these animals.

If it is not breeding season then your iguana will give you loads of warning signs before they bite with force. The problem is that we get so comfortable around them that we let our guards down, we get busy with something and do not realize that our iguana is actually very annoyed. Then when we turn around or reach out to the iguana the bite 'comes out of nowhere in our eyes'.

This is one animal where you simply have to be 100% alert when you are in the same room.

I have spend years observing Forest because I find him absolutely fascinating, I can read his mood in his eyes, the way he turns his head, moves a leg... When you get to know your iguana you will be shocked with just how much they express themselves.

Never clean your iguana's habitat while he/she is inside, that is asking for trouble.

When you are in the same area and your iguana is close to you or on the move then it is best that you stop everything that you were doing and just sit and observe. It takes tiny things that can trigger your iguana to change from relaxed to annoyed and into angry.

Forest, like all other iguanas are extremely territorial and when I have visitors or children around (that includes my 17 year old daughter) then I always make sure that I am in between Forest and the person. Forest comes and goes as he pleases and he is not afraid of anything so when people come and visit he always comes over to taste and investigate. I allow him but I stay right next to him, ready to push him away if anything goes wrong or if he wants to clime the person and show dominance. He behaves when I am there but when I leave - in his mind - he is then the dominant one and he acts upon it.

Always tell your visitors, old people and children to stay AWAY from your iguana when you are not in the room, this will prevent many trips to the ER.

If you want to take your tame-grown iguana out of the habitat and it shows aggression by making itself bigger and twisting the back to get the tail ready then back away and give it space. This aggression does not last long, just go back later and take your iguana out without ANY hesitation or eye contact. People think they can change their iguana's mood because they have a good relationship, this is a total wrong way of thinking, iguanas are stubborn and nobody can influence them to feel different or react different at a given moment.

Prevention is better than cure, never allow your iguana to dominate you, they must always know you are the boss out of season. If your iguana tries and clime on your head then simply pull him/her off with a strong NO and put him on the ground. To them height is dominance. Sometimes when I sit next to Forest outside in the garden he will clime on my lap, I have no problem with that but the moment that he tries to clime higher I simply push him back down and stroke him.

I know of people, the lady's name is Suzan, that has a normal male iguana who runs the house. These people even hide behind chairs when the iguana moves from the habitat to the bathroom! If the iguana approaches them they run and this is during normal season not breeding season. They brought this onto themselves by allowing the iguana to be the dominant one and by allowing themselves to be too scared to take charge. This is really no life for the family or the iguana.

People might ask, why own an iguana if they are such a danger? Because they are magnificent, fascinating, extremely gentle, friendly, curious, intelligent, complicated and a challenge.