U.S. Virgin Islands Reptile
Green Iguana (common name)
Iguana iguana (scientific name)
The green iguana is a tree-dwelling lizard with a large range. It likes to live near water, though it spends most of its time in trees 40 to 50 feet (12 to 15 m) above the ground. The iguana is well equipped to defend itself: It can use its long, thin tail as a weapon, and in an emergency can break off its tail to distract a predator. Because this iguana is easy to tame and brightly colored, it’s often kept as a pet.
ALSO KNOWN AS
The green iguana is a dry, scaly, tough-skinned lizard. In spite of its name, it comes in a range of colors from bright to grayish green, with blue and sometimes orange shading, depending on the region. This coloring acts as camouflage. The green iguana has much better vision than other iguanas. It has a kind of "eye" on top of its head, used to sense light and movement, which is particularly useful against predators that may attack from above.
The green iguana has wide, flat, sharp, serrated teeth for tearing at leaves, as well as a stubby, forked tongue. A fold of skin that hangs under its neck, more prominent in males, helps it regulate its body temperature. It has spines from its head to the end of its tail, a defense against predators. Its tail is about half of the length of the iguana’s body. This iguana has long toes and sharp claws for climbing. Both males and females can also store fat under their necks.
Up to 20 years. Average 8 years in the wild.
Dense, tropical tree canopies, usually near a source of water.
Range: Originally Latin America, including Mexico and the Lesser Antilles. Introduced in Florida, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and Hawaii.
Conservation status: Unevaluated. Habitat loss is an issue for the green iguana, as is collecting pets in the wild. In Latin America, people hunt this iguana for skin, meat, and eggs.
The green iguana is active in the daytime, though it spends a lot of time basking in the sun to maintain its body temperature. This iguana usually prefers to live alone, but will bask in groups, its main activity. It goes back to the same feeding site each day, so time spent hunting for food is minimal. Mating season is the first part of the dry season and lasts about two or three weeks. Males become aggressive, and females gravitate towards their preferred mate, usually a larger male.
A female lays her eggs in an underground burrow away from her home area, and may travel 1.8 miles (3 km) to dig a nest. She normally digs several per season, including sham burrows to confuse predators. A female can lay up to 70 eggs at a time. After hiding her eggs, she leaves the nest and does not return to care for the young when they hatch. Young iguanas hatch after eight to 10 weeks, before or at the very start of the rainy season. They are mature when they’re about two years old.
Leaves and fruit, insects.
Breeding interval: Annual
Hatching period: May
Average nest size: 50 eggs
Size at birth: hatchlings are typically 7-10 in (17-25 cm) in length
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Raw Data Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Author: World Trade Press