These large lizards can reach head to tail lengths of around 5 feet and can weigh upwards of 17 lbs. They can vary in color, adults becoming more uniform in color with age, whereas, the young may appear more blotchy or banded between green and brown. Color can vary based upon mood, temperature, health or social status. The color variation may aid them in thermoregulation, i.e. in the morning when body temperature is low, the skin color will be darker, helping to absorb heat from sunlight, and as the hot mid-day sun radiates on them, they become lighter, helping to reflect the sun rays and minimizing heat absorbed. Males may acquire a bright orange or gold hue six to eight weeks prior to courtship. Mature females, for the most part, retain their green coloring.
Males are sexually dimorphic; the dewlap is more developed (flap of skin beneath the jaw). On the dorsal midline of the skull behind the eyes is a parietal eye. This sense organ serves as a meter for solar energy, aids in the maturation of sex organs, thyroid gland and endocrine glands. The visual effect of this “eye” is mostly limited to the detection of predatory shadows from above.
The green iguana’s extensive range comprises the rain forests of Northern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean Islands, and southern Brazil.
Iguanas occur throughout Central and South America from Veracruz, Mexico to Southeast Brazil. They also inhabit many islands throughout the Caribbean and the coastal Eastern Pacific; they have been introduced into Southern Florida and Hawaii. They live high in the tree canopy. Juveniles establish territories in the lower areas; older, mature iguanas reside higher up.
They are primarily herbivorous, but occasionally eat a small amount of carrion or invertebrates. Green leafy plants or ripe fruits are their preferred foods.
Iguanas are diurnal, solitary, arboreal, somewhat sedentary and have dominance hierarchies.
Meet our Residents
- Green, or common, iguanas are among the largest lizards in the Americas, averaging around 6.5 feet long and weighing about 11 pounds.
- They are arboreal, living high in the tree canopy, rarely coming down except when females dig burrows to lay eggs.
- They can detach their tails if caught and will grow another without permanent damage.
- They are also among the most popular reptile pets in the United States, despite being quite difficult to care for properly. In fact, most captive iguanas die within the first year, and many are either turned loose by their owners or given to reptile rescue groups.
Status In The Wild
Although some populations have suffered from poaching and collection for the pet trade, they are not considered a conservation risk at this time.