Why Do Iguanas Dig Holes

Hey there, reptile enthusiasts! Have you ever wondered why iguanas are always digging holes like they’re trying to escape from prison? Is it because they’re looking for buried treasure or a secret underground iguana club? Or maybe they’re just trying to keep their claws in tip-top shape for their next manicure appointment?

So grab your shovel and join me as we dig deep into the world of iguanas and their love for digging holes. Trust me, it’ll be a wild ride full of twists, turns, and maybe even a few tail whips!

It turns out that there are several reasons why iguanas dig holes. One of the most common reasons is that female iguanas dig holes to lay their eggs.

This is a natural behavior that helps ensure the survival of their offspring. Female iguanas will typically dig a hole that is several inches deep and then lay their eggs inside.

They will then cover the hole with dirt or sand to protect the eggs from predators.

Another reason why iguanas dig holes is to regulate their body temperature. Iguanas are cold-blooded animals, which means that their body temperature is regulated by the environment around them. When it gets too hot, they will dig a hole in the ground to escape the heat. By burying themselves in the cool earth, they can regulate their body temperature and stay comfortable.

Here’s what holes dug by iguanas look like in the video below.

Reasons Why Iguanas Dig Holes

Iguanas are fascinating creatures that are known for their unique behaviors. One of their most notable behaviors is digging holes.

There are several reasons why iguanas dig holes, and these reasons can vary depending on the species, age, gender, and environment.

Searching for Food

Iguanas typically dig when they’re searching for food. If they feel the need to burrow, it might be because they’re searching for edible roots, plants, or insects underground.

To minimize this behavior, ensure that your iguana is well-fed and has access to a balanced diet.

Providing your iguana with a comfortable and suitable living environment, along with understanding its natural life cycle and instincts, can help you better address their digging behavior.

Remember to monitor your iguana closely, especially during the breeding season, and make sure it is getting the proper attention and care it needs.


Iguanas are cold-blooded animals, which means they rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature.

Digging holes allows iguanas to create a microclimate that is warmer or cooler than the surrounding environment. When the temperature is too hot, iguanas will dig holes to escape the heat and find a cooler place to rest.

On the other hand, when the temperature is too cold, iguanas will dig holes to bask in the sun and warm up their bodies.

Nesting and Reproduction

Another reason why iguanas dig holes is for nesting and reproduction. Female iguanas will dig holes to lay their eggs, which they cover and leave to incubate.

The holes are usually dug in a secluded and protected area, such as under a bush or in a pile of leaves.

Male iguanas also dig holes to attract females during the breeding season. They will mark their territory by digging and leaving their scent in the hole to attract a mate.

Territorial Marking

Iguanas are territorial animals, and they use their sense of smell to mark their territory. Digging holes is one way they do this. They will dig holes and defecate in them, leaving their scent behind.

This behavior is more common in male iguanas, who are more aggressive and territorial than females.

By digging holes and marking their territory, male iguanas are sending a message to other males to stay away.

Hiding and Protection

Finally, iguanas may dig holes for hiding and protection. They are prey animals and are always on the lookout for predators.

When they sense danger, they will dig a hole and hide in it until the threat has passed. This behavior is more common in younger iguanas, who are more vulnerable to predators than adults.

Stress and Escape

Another reason why iguanas may dig is due to stress or an attempt to escape their current environment. If the iguana feels threatened, it may dig a burrow for protection.

Additionally, an iguana that is not comfortable in their living conditions may try to escape by digging. Observe your iguana’s body language, such as tail movement, to determine if its digging behavior is due to stress.

Overall, iguanas dig holes for a variety of reasons, including thermoregulation, nesting and reproduction, territorial marking, and hiding and protection.

Understanding these behaviors can help iguana owners provide a suitable environment for their pets and appreciate these fascinating creatures.

How to Stop Iguanas from Digging Holes

Providing a Digging-Proof Environment

One of the best ways to stop your iguana from digging is to provide a digging-proof environment.

This can be achieved by covering the floor with a thick layer of substrate, such as coconut fiber or cypress mulch.

Additionally, you can provide a designated digging area or add artificial nesting habitats to fulfill your iguana’s natural urge to dig.

Using Iguana Repellent Methods

There are several iguana-repellent methods that can be used to deter iguanas from digging. Some of these methods include:

  • Neem oil: a natural repellent that can be applied to plants in your iguana’s enclosure to discourage digging.
  • Garlic spray: a natural deterrent that can be applied to the soil to keep iguanas away.
  • Sound repellers: devices that emit loud noises to scare away iguanas.
  • Motion-sensitive sprinklers: automated watering systems that can be used to deter iguanas from entering certain areas.

Creating Secure Living Conditions

Ensuring that your iguana has a secure and comfortable living environment will help reduce its desire to dig. This can be achieved by:

  • Providing a spacious enclosure that ensures they don’t feel the need to escape.
  • Maintaining optimal temperature and humidity levels to mimic their natural habitat.
  • Providing consistent access to clean water, shade, and hiding spots.
  • Ensuring their diet includes fruits that they would typically find in their native environment.

Capturing and Removing Iguanas

When iguanas become persistent diggers and cannot be deterred by the aforementioned methods, they may need to be captured and removed.

There are various methods available to safely capture and remove iguanas, such as:

  • Wire netting: Placing wire netting around the perimeter of the enclosure can help prevent iguanas from escaping through their burrows.
  • Cages: Commercially available iguana cages can be used to safely trap and relocate your pet iguana.
  • Professional assistance: In some cases, it may be necessary to consult a professional who specializes in iguana removal in order to safely capture and remove the iguana.

By following these methods and adapting the environment to the iguana’s needs, you should be able to effectively prevent and stop your iguana from digging while ensuring a happy and healthy pet.

Is it normal for iguanas to dig?

Yes, it is normal for iguanas to dig. In fact, iguanas are known for their digging behavior, particularly during certain times of the year.

This is especially true for gravid, or egg-bearing, female iguanas.

These females need to prepare deep holes, typically 3-4 feet deep, to lay their eggs safely.

How to Provide Appropriate Digging Opportunities for Pet Iguanas

Creating a Digging Area

Pet iguanas need a designated area where they can dig and burrow. This helps them mimic their natural habitat and provides them with mental and physical stimulation.

To create a digging area, you can use a large container or a section of the enclosure.

The area should be at least twice the length and width of your iguana and deep enough for them to burrow.

Choosing the Right Substrate

The substrate used in the digging area is crucial for your iguana’s health and well-being. It should be soft, loose, and easy to burrow in.

Some suitable substrates include coconut coir, organic potting soil, and sphagnum moss.

Avoid using sand, gravel, or wood chips as they can cause impaction if ingested.

Ensuring Proper Temperature and Humidity

Iguanas require specific temperature and humidity levels to thrive. The digging area should be kept at a temperature between 80-85°F during the day and 75-80°F at night.

The humidity level should be around 70%. You can increase humidity by misting the substrate or adding a shallow water dish.

Monitoring and Maintaining the Digging Area

It’s essential to monitor the digging area regularly to ensure it stays clean and safe for your iguana. Remove any feces and uneaten food promptly and replace the substrate as needed.

You should also check the temperature and humidity levels regularly to make sure they are within the appropriate range.

In summary, providing your pet iguana with a designated digging area is crucial for their physical and mental well-being. Choose the right substrate, maintain proper temperature and humidity levels, and monitor the area regularly to ensure your iguana stays healthy and happy.


Overall, iguanas dig holes for a variety of reasons, including nesting, escaping captivity, hiding, and stress.

It is important for iguana owners to provide their pets with proper care, including a suitable environment, diet, and socialization, to prevent stress and potential digging behavior.

For those who want to prevent wild iguanas from digging holes in their yard, planting non-edible plants can be effective.

Additionally, keeping iguanas away from the house and removing any food sources can discourage them from digging tunnels.

It is important to note that iguanas are fascinating creatures that play a vital role in their ecosystem.

While their digging behavior may be frustrating for some, it is important to respect their natural instincts and find humane solutions to coexist with them.

Also, Read

Can Iguanas Climb Trees

Can Iguanas Climb Fences

Why Do Iguanas Shake Their Head

Why Do Iguana Eat Their Own Poop?

How Do Iguanas Stick to Walls

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