Green iguana

From the US down to Brazil, this trans-American lizard is the most common iguana

Korall

This is a large arboreal lizard native to Central America, South America, and parts of the Caribbean. These lizards are renowned for their impressive size, with adults often reaching lengths of up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) from head to tail and some even exceeding 2 meters (6.6 feet).

Despite being called “green” iguanas, they exhibit a kaleidoscope of colors throughout their life. Juveniles generally start out a bright green, which helps them hide in the foliage of their rainforest habitats. As they mature, their coloration can include shades of blue, purple, orange, and yellow, and these colors can change based on factors like mood, health, and temperature. During the breeding season, males can display even more vibrant colors to attract females.

The body of a green iguana is robust and covered in tough, leathery scales. A row of spines running along their back to the tail provides protection from predators and is used in displays of dominance. Their long, muscular tails act as formidable weapons that can deliver painful whips. In a defensive response, green iguanas can also undergo caudal autotomy, a process where they allow their tail to break off if a predator catches them. The tail will eventually regrow, though it may not reach its original length or coloration.

Another distinctive feature of the green iguana is the dewlap, a large flap of skin that hangs from the throat. This dewlap is used in thermoregulation—helping the iguana warm up or cool down by controlling blood flow—and in social signaling during territorial or courtship displays. The dewlap can be extended to make the iguana appear larger and more threatening to rivals or predators.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Anguilla
2018
Introduced
Antigua & Barbuda
2018
Introduced
Aruba
2018
Bahamas
2018
Introduced
Belize
2018
Bolivia
2018
Bonaire Sint Eustatius And Saba
2018
Introduced
Brazil
2018
Bahia
British Virgin Is.
2018
Introduced
Cayman Islands
2018
Introduced
Colombia
2018
Mainland,
Costa Rica
2018
Curaçao
2018
Dominican Republic
2018
Introduced
El Salvador
2018
Fiji
2018
Introduced
French Guiana
2018
Grenada
2018
Guadeloupe
2018
Introduced
Guatemala
2018
Guyana
2018
Honduras
2018
Honduran Caribbean Is.
Japan
2018
Introduced
Martinique
2018
Introduced
Mexico
2018
Campeche, Yucatán
Montserrat
2018
Nicaragua
2018
Mainland,
Panama
2018
Paraguay
2018
Peru
2018
Puerto Rico
2018
Introduced: Main Island
Saint Barthélemy
2018
Introduced
Saint Lucia
2018
Saint Martin
2018
Introduced: French Part
Saint Vincent
2018
Sint Maarten
2018
Introduced: Dutch Part
Spain
2018
Introduced: Canary Is.
Suriname
2018
Trinidad & Tobago
2018
US Virgin Islands
2018
Introduced
United States
2018
Introduced: Hawaiian Is., Florida
Venezuela
2018

Did you know?

  • Green iguanas have excellent vision, enabling them to detect shapes and motions at long distances.
  • Green iguanas have a white photosensory organ on the top of their heads called the parietal eye. It is also called the third eye, pineal eye, or pineal gland. This “eye” cannot form images but is sensitive to changes in light and dark and can detect movement. This helps the iguana detect predators stalking it from above.
  • Green iguanas have very sharp teeth that are capable of shredding leaves and even human skin.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No