Creatures of the Amazon
Green Iguana

By Adrian Walker

Iguana iguana

The Green Iguana is undoubtedly one of the more attractive creatures of the Amazon jungle and remains quite common and easily seen in many locations. They’re large animals attaining a maximum length of 2M and long lived with captives surviving for half a century or more, although their lifespan in the wild is unknown.

Fearsome in appearance, Green Iguanas have prominent spikes along their spinal column which are used as a defensive mechanism to deter would be predators such as Caiman or Anaconda. However these spikes belie the vegetarian nature of the reptile as fruit and vegetation form the overwhelming bulk of their diet although some protein is taken in the form of carrion.

They are an oviparous (egg laying) species with between 20 and 70 eggs laid in a single session but no parental care is provided, the eggs merely laid in a shallow scrape, then abandoned to hatch and fend for themselves from birth. This habit means that a large number of eggs must be laid as many young find themselves dinner for other creatures.

The name Green Iguana can be misleading as the species varies in colour throughout its South American and Caribbean range, some Southern Peruvian forms appearing more blue than green and individuals from the northern extremity often being terracotta coloured.

Look for them amongst trees where they regularly sun themselves by day and also near water as much of their vegetable diet comes from water loving plants such as lilies and sedges.
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