Green Iguana [1]
Iguana iguana
Physical description
Binomial nameIguana iguana
HabitatArboreal, often found near water
Lifespan10 years (up to 20 in captivity)
Average Size1.5 m (4.9 ft) - 2 m (6.6 ft)
Average weight9.1kg (20 lb)
Conservational Status
IUCN statusIUCN 3.1
Scientific classification
SpeciesI. iguana
Distribution of speciesSouthern Mexico to central Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and the Caribbean
Iguana iguana distribution map

The Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) is an arboreal species of lizard that is native to Central and South America. The Green Iguana ranges over a large geographic area, from southern Brazil and Paraguay to as far north as Mexico and the Carribean Islands; and in the United States as feral populations in South Florida (including the Florida Keys), Hawaii, and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

This lizard is commonly kept as a pet by hobbyists due to its bright colors, calm personality and large size, however it can be very demanding to care for properly, such as requiring a large amount of space for it to roam and special lighting and heating needs, and is recommended only for skilled reptile owners. The green iguana will, if nessasary, use its tail like a whip if threatened and gnash out with its leaf shaped teeth.

Distribution and Habitat Edit

The native range of the Green Iguana extends from southern Mexico to central Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia and the Caribbean; specifically Grenada, Curaçao, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Útila. The species has been introduced to Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Green Iguanas are diurnal, tree-climbing reptiles, and are often found around water. They are extremely good climbers, and are also able to fall up to 40 ft (12 m) and land unharmed. During cold and wet weather, iguanas prefer to stay on the ground for greater warmth. When swimming, an iguana remains submerged, letting its limbs hang limply against its side, while propelling through the water with a powerful, fish-like tail motion.

Diet Edit

Green iguanas are herbivores and feed on flowers, leaves, fruit, and other plant matter [2] It is a common misconception that young iguanas are omnivorous, however this untrue and there is little evidence to prove otherwise [3][4]. There have been reports of iguanas eating tree snails [5] and grasshoppers [6], but most of these cases have probably come from accidental ingestion, desperation, or some other cause. The majority of Green Iguanas are still solid herbivores [4]. Being opportunistic feeders, captive iguanas will eat animal protein if offered, but it is unhealthy for them and they will develop health problems.

Juvenile iguanas will try to eat the feces of other iguanas. It is presumed that this behavior is used to obtain essential gut flora for digestion, however hatchling iguanas usually have just enough gut flora to digest their meals [7].

Behavior Edit

Green Iguanas most commonly communicate in patterns of head bobs. The most common purpose of a headbob is to signify ownership of a certain territory. Males typically headbob more than females. Slow, up and down headbobs are used to acknowledge the presence of other iguanas (or the iguana's owner) and to inform others of its own presence. A quick side to side headbob means the iguana is feeling temperamental, and if the bobbing motion is very fast with both side-to-side and up-down motions then the iguana is extremely agitated and may bite.

The iguana's dewlap is also an essential part of communication. While an extended dewlap can be a simple greeting, the iguana may also use it to puff itself up when faced with a predator. Another use for their dewlap is simply for thermoregulation. The dewlap can be combined with other forms of communication as well.

If threatened or annoyed, the iguana may puff up and posture. They may hiss as well but hissing does not always accompany posturing. If the threat fails to listen they will employ a strong whip with their tail, or go straight to the bite. Depending on the size of the iguana, bites can be very severe and can require stitches. [8]

Reproduction Edit

Green Iguanas mate in the fall. They are oviparous (egg-laying) and lay clutches of 28 to 40 eggs in the months of January to April, and they hatch 90 days later.[9]

Captivity Edit

Main article: Green Iguana/Care

Green Iguanas are extremely common in the pet trade and are seen by most as a staple 'pet lizard'. However despite their abundnace in the pet trade and their initial low cost as babies, Green Iguanas are extremely difficult to properly care for. They cannot live off simple, cheap setups and pellet diets; these iguanas require expensive, large enclosures (or be allowed to freely roam a house) and a careful, proper mix of fruits and vegetables. Green iguanas will grow to sizes of rougly 5 feet in length (including the tail) or longer, adding to the fact that the idea of these iguanas being simple pets is extremely far fetched[10]. Male iguanas can undergo mating season aggression and inflict deadly wounds if the owner is not paying attention to his body language [11], and females can acquire dystocia, or egg binding, if she is not given a proper place to lay her eggs or is too far stressed during that time [12].

References Edit

  1. Iguana iguana. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved September 1, 2010
  2. "Green Iguanas, Green Iguana Pictures, Green Iguana Facts." National Geographic. Retrieved 2012-4-14.
  3. Kaplan, Melissa."What did Swanson really say?" Retrieved 2012-4-14.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Britton, Adam. "Adam Britton: Animal Protein & Claw Trimming". Retrieved 2012-4-14.
  5. Townsend, Josiah H.; John Slapcinsky, Kenneth L. Krysko, Ellen M. Donlan, and Elizabeth A. Golden (2005). Predation of a Tree Snail Drymaeus multilineatus (Gastropoda: Bulimulidae) by Iguana iguana(Reptilia: Iguanidae) on Key Biscayne, Florida (pdf). SouthEastern Naturalist pp. 361–364. Retrieved on 2009-08-08.
  6. Meshaka, Walter; Bartlett, Richard; Smith, Henry (2007-04-19), Iguana: Journal of the International Iguana Society (State Museum of Pennsylvania, Zoology and Botany).
  7. Kaplan, Melissa. "Coprophagy in Reptiles". Retrieved 2012-4-16.
  8. "Body Language". The Green Iguana Society. Retrieved 2012-4-16.
  9. National Audubon Society. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979
  10. Bartlett, R.D, and Patricia Bartlett. Iguanas: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual. Barron's Educational Series, 2003.
  11. "Your Health and Safety". The Green Iguana Society. Retrieved 2012-5-9.
  12. Kaplan, Melissa. Dystocia in Reptiles. Retrieved 2012-5-9.
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