Tag Archive: Iguanidae


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Family: Iguanidae.

Genus/species: Iguana iguana

DISTRIBUTION: Widely distributed from Mexico to southern Brazil and Paraguay, as well as on Caribbean Islands.

HABITAT: Tropical rainforests at low altitudes. Is arboreal and spends most of its time in the low canopy, 12–15 m (40–50 ft) above ground, coming down only to mate, lay eggs, and change trees.

APPEARANCE: Green iguanas are among the largest lizards in the Americas: 2 m (6.5 ft) in length, 5 kg (11 lbs) in weight. They can be various shades of green, ranging from bright green to a dull gray-green. The skin is rough with a set of pointy scales along the back. They have long fingers and claws to help them climb and grasp branches. Males have a flap of skin, called a dewlap, on the ventral side of the neck. It can be inflated to make them seem larger, to attract females, and to adjust their body temperature. The tail is almost half their length, and can be used as a whip to drive off predators. They can detach their tail if caught, and it will grow back.

DIET: Primarily herbivores, eating plants, especially leaves and fruit.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT: Iguanas reach sexual maturity in 2–3 years. Green iguanas breed at the onset of the dry season. A month or two later, the females lay a clutch of 14–76 eggs in burrows excavated in communal nesting sites. At the end of a three month Incubation period, the newly hatched iguanas emerge. Because hatching takes place during the rainy season, food is plentiful.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Reptiles, birds and mammals prey upon the hatchlings. Less than 3% live to adulthood. Adults are highly prized for their meat, and are hunted by humans. They are also captured for the pet trade.

CONSERVATION: The green iguana has become extinct in some countries and is endangered in others because of excessive hunting and habitat loss. In Costa Rica a program is being developed to breed and raise green iguanas in semi-captivity. After successful breeding, the hatchlings are maintained for 6–10 months, then released into the surrounding area with supplemental food and protection. When they are adults, some are harvested for food and to generate income by supplying leather for handicrafts. Such programs have decreased forest destruction and helped to protected wild iguanas.

REMARKS: In parts of Central America where iguanas are eaten for food, they are called “bamboo chickens” or “chicken of the trees.”

*Not currently on Display

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Conolophus subcristatus                 Iguanidae family

HABITAT: Arid low altitude portions of the islands.

 APPEARANCE: Iguanas have distinctive eyelids, external eardrums, dewlaps (throat pouches), each limb has 5 toes with sharp claws allowing them to climb.  Charles Darwin described the Galapagos Land Iguana as “ugly animals, of a yellowish orange beneath, and of a brownish-red color above: from their low facial angle they have a singularly stupid appearance”.

C.subcristatus   grows  to approximately 3 ft (1 m) in length and weigh up to 25 pounds.

DIET: The mainstay of its diet is the prickly pear cactus. They eat the pads and fruit including the spines. The cactus provides both food and water for the land iguana, making it possible to survive without fresh water for a year.  C. subcristatus  are also opportunistic carnivores supplementing their diet with insects, centipedes and carrion.

REMARKS: Part of the adaptation to the drier environment includes a conservation of energy by slow movement. This makes the animals seem lazy or stupid. Land iguanas burrow into the ground creating tunnels which provides a place for nesting, shade during the day and protection at night.

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VIDEO LINK   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VySe1X12gqs&hd=1

Cuban Knight Anole

Anolis equestris      Iguanidae

Distribution: Cuba and have been introduced into Dade and Broward counties in Florida.

Habitat: They are arboreal living in the shady canopy of large trees.

Appearance: Grow to a length of 12 to 20 inches (30 to 51 cm). They are the largest of the Genus Anolis. The snout is long and wedge-shaped and the tail is slightly compressed with a serrated upper edge. Each toe is expanded to form an adhesive pad allowing the anoles to easily run up smooth, vertical surfaces, or run body downward on a horizontal plane.  The body is covered with small granular scales with a yellow or white stripe under the eye and over the shoulder. They are bright green in color, which can change to a dull grayish-brown.

Diet: Insects, small lizards, amphibians.

Remarks:  They are easy to distinguish from other anoles by their size and the large, pink throat fan or dewlap.  When courting or defending its territory amale anole will extend its throat sac.

Rhinoceros Iguana

Cyclura cornuta                           Iguanidae

Distribution: Haiti and Dominican Republic.

Habitat: Primarily found near coastlines; however, many have been forced to relocate inland due to human expansion.

Appearance: One of the largest of the Iguanas, mature Rhinoceros Iguanas can be anywhere from two to four feet in length. They get their name from three horn-like outgrowths on the end of their nose. They are a dusky gray or olive green in color, with barely visible dark cross bands,

Diet: Mainly herbivorous eating leaves, flowers and fruit. They may eat carrion (mostly dead birds and fish.

Remarks: As with most Iguanas, Rhinoceros Iguanas have good hearing, smell and excellent eyesight.

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