Green Iguana (Iguana Iguana)


Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family:    Iguanidae
Size:    Length: 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m) including the tail
Weight: 9 to 20 pounds (4 to 9 kg)
Diet: Flowers, fruit, leaves, eggs, insects and small vertebrates
Distribution: Central and South America
Young:  20 to 70 eggs
Animal Predators:  Birds of prey, foxes, rats, weasels, snakes and other carnivores
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: None
Lifespan: Average 10 years in the wild and 15 to 20 years in captivity



·       The green iguana’s tail makes up two-thirds of its body length.

·       Green iguanas can sleep underwater for an hour or more.

·       Green iguanas can fall 40 to 50 feet to the ground from a tree without getting hurt.

·       They have excellent vision as well as good senses of smell and hearing.

·       If the tail breaks off when caught by a predator, it grows back without permanent damage.



Although both males and females are similar in looks, male green iguanas are larger and have a larger dewlap (the loose fold of skin hanging from the throat). Their green colour helps them blend in with the background to avoid detection from predators. Their feet have five very long toes with sharp claws on the ends, used especially for climbing. Green iguanas shed their skin twice a year. Their skin is rough with a set of pointy scales along their back. 



Green iguanas range from Central to South America, and also can be found on some islands in the West Indies. They live in tropical rainforests near water such as rivers or ponds. Green iguanas have been introduced to nearby tropical areas including Florida.


Feeding Habits

Adult green iguanas are omnivorous, eating mostly flowers, fruit and leaves that they find in the forest but also eggs, insects and small vertebrates. 



Females travel to the territories of males and prefer to mate with the largest and strongest ones. After mating, females bury their eggs in a shallow hole, cover them with leaves and other vegetation to keep them warm and hidden, then abandon them. The eggs hatch in four to six weeks. The young iguanas are six to 12 inches in length and emerge looking like miniature versions of their parents. They immediately disperse, each going its own way and growing up without parental care. The youngsters are brighter green than adults and eat mostly insects, worms and snails until they get older, when they switch to a vegetarian diet. Of the large number of eggs laid (called a clutch) only three to 10 young will survive. They are approximately three feet (91 cm) long when they reach one year and they are considered adults at 18 months. They sometimes gather in groups, but juvenile males are wary of older males and may even retain their bright green colour for longer than usual to escape competition during mating season.



Iguanas are cold-blooded, so to warm their bodies, they lie on warm rocks or earth and soak up sunshine to raise their body temperatures. They are timid animals and prefer to avoid confrontations but if threatened, will bite, scratch, and use their tails to lash out. They are good climbers and spend a great deal of time in trees, especially on branches over water, where they can survey the surroundings and drop into the water if they need to make a quick getaway. Green iguanas are also good swimmers, using their tails to propel themselves through the water. 



Destruction of the rainforest and the pet trade industry are major threats to green iguanas. They are also hunted for meat, as are their eggs. 



Green Iguana Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US