Iguana shedding problems

Published: 11th January 2012
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Iguanas shed in no particular sequence and it is done in sections or patches with a well-defined border. As the iguana gets older they start to shed less frequently and sometimes only certain areas of their bodies.

Helpful things to aid shedding

In the wild the humidity is higher and it often rains, there is also natural objects that iguanas rub against to help remove the loose shed. You can help your iguana's shedding process by re-creating a natural environment and lifestyle.


Letting you iguana soak in the bath helps the skin shed easier, you can also let your iguana have a shower if he prefers it above bathing. It is not a good idea to create a damp and humid condition in an enclosed habitat because you run the risk of causing respiratory problems for your iguana. My iguana hates bathing and even hates showering but he loves laying outside when it rains.


You can mist your iguana several times a day with a plant sprayer that is set on a fine mist. You might notice that your iguana will lift his head when being misted, it is a natural trait that they carry with them into captivity. When in the jungle they often tilt their heads back and open their mouth to get a drink when it rains.
Dont mist your iguana when he is cold, if there is a breeze blowing or if it is close to the time that the light switches off it can cause your iguana to become ill.

Rough objects

In the jungle iguanas scrape themselves against trees, limbs, rocks and bushes to remove loose skin. You can place rocks, rough bricks, rough branches etc. in the iguana habitat so that he can rub against it.'

Baby oil - Mineral Oil

It sometimes happen that your iguana can have a problem area where the shedding seems to be stuck. If the spines have trouble shedding you can rub big drops of oil between your fingers and massage gently on either side of the problem spines. You can do this several times a day until the shedding comes off easily. Dont pull stuck shedding because it can do damage to the spikes. You can rub oil on other body parts as well but make sure not to get any oil into your iguana's eyes or nostrils.

Hand Picking

You can help your iguana with loose skin but dont get carried away and pull on skin that is not ready yet. You can easily damage your iguana's skin by doing that. Your iguana will give you a clear indication if he is ok with it or if he doesn't like you messing around. Dont ignore these signs.

Body parts that may have problems:

Shedding fingers and toes

It is very important that the shed comes off properly from the fingers and toes. Check all the toes and fingers carefully, what happens is that a small ring stays behind and acts like a wrapped rubber band that cuts off the blood circulation. This happens frequently with hatchlings or juveniles that grows very fast. If you notice one of these rings you can take a pair of scissors and VERY carefully cut the ring off.


Older iguanas has long spines and sometimes they are a bit twisted and even have broken tips which causes the shed to get snagged and prevent it from coming off. The shedding needs to be removed each time otherwise it will cause a build up that restricts growth and health. When you see the spines are ready to shed but it does not come off then you need to step in and help. Best is to let your iguana soak in water that covers the spines, if your iguana does not like soaking you can always put him in a shower. I have found that showering works best with my iguanas spines. Never pull on the spines, gently rub with your fingers on the sides using baby or mineral oil until it easily comes off. This is an area that you can not ignore because it will not correct itself.


Sometimes it happen that eyelids need a little bit of help, it sometimes happen that it comes off partially and get stuck in your iguana's eye. You can gently pull the shedding off, making sure that you do not pull the skin. When this happens to Forest I usually do not pull it off, I hold my hand by his eye and Forest usually starts rubbing up against my hand applying pressure as he sees fit.


It can happen that the vent does not shed and form a hanging bag that collects feces. Use a tweezer to remove the shedding that should come off very easily after a soak. Always be gently especially around this delicate area.


The point of the tail can have some difficulty to shed and an unshedded tail tip is the worst section of all. It can act as a tourniquet and stop the blood supply to the tail tip. The tail tip will then die or form a gangrene that works its way up the tail and killing it as it goes. This will mean that your iguana's tail will have to be amputated. Soaking and several applications of oil over a course of time will help with the shedding before it becomes a problem.


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