The Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) is an arboreal species of lizard that is native to Central and South America. The Green Iguana ranges over a large geographic area, from southern Brazil and Paraguay to as far north as Mexico and the Carribean Islands; and in the United States as feral populations in South Florida (including the Florida Keys), Hawaii, and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
This lizard is commonly kept as a pet by hobbyists due to its bright colors, calm personality and large size, however it can be very demanding to care for properly, such as requiring a large amount of space for it to roam and special lighting and heating needs, and is recommended only for skilled reptile owners. The green iguana will, if nessasary, use its tail like a whip if threatened and gnash out with its leaf shaped teeth.
Distribution and Habitat Edit
The native range of the Green Iguana extends from southern Mexico to central Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia and the Caribbean; specifically Grenada, Curaçao, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Útila. The species has been introduced to Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and the United States Virgin Islands.
Green Iguanas are diurnal, tree-climbing reptiles, and are often found around water. They are extremely good climbers, and are also able to fall up to 40 ft (12 m) and land unharmed. During cold and wet weather, iguanas prefer to stay on the ground for greater warmth. When swimming, an iguana remains submerged, letting its limbs hang limply against its side, while propelling through the water with a powerful, fish-like tail motion.
Green iguanas are herbivores and feed on flowers, leaves, fruit, and other plant matter It is a common misconception that young iguanas are omnivorous, however this untrue and there is little evidence to prove otherwise. There have been reports of iguanas eating tree snails and grasshoppers, but most of these cases have probably come from accidental ingestion, desperation, or some other cause. The majority of Green Iguanas are still solid herbivores. Being opportunistic feeders, captive iguanas will eat animal protein if offered, but it is unhealthy for them and they will develop health problems.
Juvenile iguanas will try to eat the feces of other iguanas. It is presumed that this behavior is used to obtain essential gut flora for digestion, however hatchling iguanas usually have just enough gut flora to digest their meals.
Green Iguanas most commonly communicate in patterns of head bobs. The most common purpose of a headbob is to signify ownership of a certain territory. Males typically headbob more than females. Slow, up and down headbobs are used to acknowledge the presence of other iguanas (or the iguana's owner) and to inform others of its own presence. A quick side to side headbob means the iguana is feeling temperamental, and if the bobbing motion is very fast with both side-to-side and up-down motions then the iguana is extremely agitated and may bite.
The iguana's dewlap is also an essential part of communication. While an extended dewlap can be a simple greeting, the iguana may also use it to puff itself up when faced with a predator. Another use for their dewlap is simply for thermoregulation. The dewlap can be combined with other forms of communication as well.
If threatened or annoyed, the iguana may puff up and posture. They may hiss as well but hissing does not always accompany posturing. If the threat fails to listen they will employ a strong whip with their tail, or go straight to the bite. Depending on the size of the iguana, bites can be very severe and can require stitches.
Green Iguanas mate in the fall. They are oviparous (egg-laying) and lay clutches of 28 to 40 eggs in the months of January to April, and they hatch 90 days later.
Green Iguanas are extremely common in the pet trade and are seen by most as a staple 'pet lizard'. However despite their abundnace in the pet trade and their initial low cost as babies, Green Iguanas are extremely difficult to properly care for. They cannot live off simple, cheap setups and pellet diets; these iguanas require expensive, large enclosures (or be allowed to freely roam a house) and a careful, proper mix of fruits and vegetables. Green iguanas will grow to sizes of rougly 5 feet in length (including the tail) or longer, adding to the fact that the idea of these iguanas being simple pets is extremely far fetched. Male iguanas can undergo mating season aggression and inflict deadly wounds if the owner is not paying attention to his body language, and females can acquire dystocia, or egg binding, if she is not given a proper place to lay her eggs or is too far stressed during that time.