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Green iguana

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Green iguana
Iguana iguana Portoviejo 04.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Iguana iguana

Iguana iguana.jpg

The Green Iguana is a species of Iguana known by the scientific name Iguana iguana. Although known as the "Green" Iguana, the species can actually be found in a variety of colors from brown to purple. When many people see a picture of the real Iguana they notice the signature circles on the Iguanas lower mouth. Since the Iguana cannot urinate these "salt glands" excrete their bodily fluids and waste when needed. The Green iguana ranges from South America to the tropic of Capricorn. Another signature feature is the lethal tail. These massive tails can make up more than half their body mass and if this tail manages to get cut of it is able to regrow.[2]All species of Iguanas have some sort of frill on their chins which is referred as the dewlap. The dewlap is used to regulate the Iguanas body temperature and is sometimes used as a warning towards other Iguanas during fights.

Body Design

Iguana Spines and Dewlap

'Green Iguana' can be many different colors. They tend to change color while maturing, and what they eat can also help influence their shades and colors. Also they have lots of spines on their back and tails to defend themselves from their predators. [3] Their tails can make up to half their body size, but if fall off or get cut off by something, even by the slightest amount of pressure touching it, they are able to regrow a new tail.[4] The iguana has a Parietal Eye or third eye that helps it see the light and dark. It cannot really clearly see anything from it, but it can sense different animal shadows and amounts of sunlight for the iguana to know when it's had enough sunlight.[5]

Iguanas have a flap underneath their mandible that is called the dewlap. Mainly the adult males have larger dewlaps than females, but both sexes can have them. These help to regulate the iguana's body temperature and they also are used in courting each other and claiming their territory. Since iguanas are unable to create liquid urine, they excrete wastes through salt glands. The glands excrete excess potassium and sodium chloride. This species is one of the biggest in the iguana family being as long as 5.6 feet and weighing up to 20 pounds. This animal has very sharp teeth that are flat and broad, but serrated at the ends. Their teeth can be hard to see because they are on the inner sides of the jawbones. [3]

Life Cycle

Baby iguana shedding skin.

Like most reptiles, Green Iguanas lay eggs and reproduce sexually. They usually reproduce during the dryer half of the year and during this time the males need to find mates; so they end up becoming more aggressive. After mating, the female holds her eggs for around 2-3 months,[6] and gives birth to as much as 30 eggs[7] It takes about 3 months for the eggs to hatch, and approximately 40% of all the baby iguanas survive due to predators, weather and often being abandoned by their mother. Of the iguanas that do survive it can take up to a year and a half for the iguanas to fully mature and be able to reproduce. It depends on the state of the iguana but they can live up to 20 years of age.

The Green iguana can weigh up to 18 pound, approximately 8 kg.[8] The reason why many baby Iguanas don't survive is because when they are born many of them have very bright textures on their bodies that can attract many predators. Many scientists have had these Green iguanas held captive and bred captive because even though this species of iguanas is an invasive species it is also an endangered species due to the destruction of their home, the tropical rain-forests.


The green Iguana's range map.

The green iguana inhabits in tropical areas Latin America. It lives in warm coastal areas with low elevations and water paths, typically where trees extend over water. It also inhabits in mangrove (trees, plants or shrubs that grows mainly in tropical coastal swamps or murky lands) forests and saltwater regions, but it has to be close to freshwater areas because they need to have access to it in order to survive. [9] Green iguanas can live in dry places if their food supplies are plentiful. But most likely they will be able to live in mangrove swamps. [10]

The green iguana is arboreal (lives in trees) so their claws are long, which are useful in their environment. They are great climbers and swimmers, they move around from place to place to lay their eggs, or to mate. Depending on the different environments, some green iguanas have different colors and sizes. Their colors are usually a dull green, grey, or brown. Therefore they’re good at camouflaging and often go unseen. This is an important factor because it helps them stay safe from predators that want to hunt them. [11]

Invasive Behavior

Family of Iguanas

The green iguanas size and ability to adapt to climate and the food in its area can add to the fact that it's population can quickly get out of control. Though the iguana is not known for being aggressive, once it's out of control their population becomes quite difficult to get back in control. One of the reasons the eradication of the green iguana is difficult is that a single female can lay up to 20-70 eggs in 3 days. Like stated before they are not known to be aggressive but they can be extremely destructive. They invade natural rainforests and they also destroy backyards and gardens. They tend to be territorial and push out other native lizards and insects. Green iguanas also disturb native herbivores around them and other species entirely by eating all their food, limiting the areas that other organisms can abide in and stealing their homes.

In Puerto Rico, Green Iguanas pose a problem to airport runways causing collision hazards. In Florida, they have been known to go to owl burrows and eat or harm the owl's eggs and hatchlings.[12]

Control Efforts

Iguanas are a very common pet, especially in the U.S.. This is why to help control the population people need to be educated about them, so they don’t end up setting free a pet they don’t want anymore. Some places have changed their pet laws so that you need a special permit to have the iguana. Others are even going as far as inserting electronic chips. Every year some where people are spending thousands of dollars to capture and euthanize these animals. Thankfully, people have found other ways that help control this species as well, like in some places where they eat both the iguana and their eggs.


Amazing facts about the Green Iguana(Iguana iguana)


  1. Iguana iguana Wikispecies. Web. Last Modified May 18, 2013. Unknown Author.
  2. Gingell, Fred. Common Green Iguana Animal Diversity Web. Web. Date of last access October 24, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Green Iguana Wikipedia. Web. Last Modified October 14, 2014. Unknown Author.
  4. Pollock, Christal. Basic Information Sheet Green or Common Iguana (Iguana iguana) Lafeber Vet. Web. Date-of-publication February 25, 2011.
  5. wildheart. Iguana External Body Parts Reptile and Parrots Forum. Web. Date-of-publication December 20, 2011.
  6. Author Unknown.Green Iguana Iguana iguana© 1996-2014 National Geographic Society.
  7. Brough, Clarice. Green Iguana Common Iguana, Giant Green Iguana [Animal-World] 1998-2013.
  8. reptiles & amphibians accessed October 14,2014.
  9. IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. Iguana iguana (reptile) Web. Last Modified on June 15, 2010.
  10. Green Iguana Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Web. Accessed October 20, 2014.Author Unknown.
  11. Iguana's in the Wild Green Iguana Society. Web. Accessed October 20, 2014.Author Unknown.
  12. IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. Iguana iguana (reptile) issg Database. Web. Last Modified on June 15, 2010.