Iguana Iguana

STATUS: Endangered


Lionel our green iguana lives in one of the enclosures in our tropical house. He can often be seen basking under his heat lamps and loves nothing more than a tickle from his keepers.


The green iguana is wide ranging and can be found from Mexico through to Central and South America. They are seen as invasive animals in southern Florida and Hawaii. They live in humid, tropical rainforests, and prefer to live high up in the tree canopy.


Green iguanas feed on a wide variety of vegetation, including shoots, leaves, blossoms and fruits of plants such as nickerbean, firebush, jasmine, orchids, roses, Washington fan palms, hibiscuses, garden greens, squashes and melons.


Iguanas tend to breed in the dry season, ensuring that young hatch in the wet season when food is more readily available. Mating appears to be polygynandrous. Courtship occurs within a defined territory where more than one female may be present. Conflicts between males are not uncommon.


Despite their wide distribution, green iguanas face several conservation challenges. Habitat loss due to deforestation for agriculture, logging, and urban development is the most pressing threat. This fragmentation of their natural habitat not only reduces their living space but also disrupts their food resources and breeding patterns.

The illegal pet trade is another major issue. Green iguanas are popular in the international pet market due to their exotic appearance and relatively placid nature. However, many iguanas are captured from the wild, causing population decline in certain areas.

Lastly, climate change poses a significant threat to green iguanas. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns can disrupt their breeding cycles and food availability, and more frequent and intense weather events can directly harm or kill individuals.


  • Iguanas are able to hold their breath for up to 30 minutes.
  • They will often jump from tree to water using their powerful tail for swimming to escape. They are also able to leap down 40-50 feet without injury.
  • To attract a mate, mature males may turn orange during breeding season.
  • Iguanas store large amounts of fat in their lower jaw and neck area in order to survive times of famine. The pouch at the base of their neck is called a dewlap, and is used in display.
  • Their tail has weakened vertebrae so the iguana can break free and escape if caught by the tail. Iguanas are also able to whip their tail in defense, leaving behind a stinging welt or worse.