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Iguana Facts . . . . . . . . .


South Florida has a very large population of iguanas probably due to humans releasing them as unwanted pets that outgrew their homes. In fact there are so many Iguanas in populated areas that they are now being considered a nuisance pest.

Physical Appearance: Full-grown green iguanas are usually between four and six feet, although they have been known to grow up to seven feet long. This includes the tail, however, which can make up about half the body length and, in addition to its green color, has black stripes. Green iguanas, not surprisingly, are green in color, but can be found in many different shades ranging from bright green, to a dull, grayish-green. Their skin is rough, with a set of pointy scales along the iguana's back. Green iguanas have long fingers and claws to help them climb and grasp.

Geographic Range: The green iguana is found over a large geographic area, from Mexico to southern Brazil and Paraguay, as well as on the Caribbean Islands.

Adaptations: Green iguanas have good senses of hearing and smell, and superb vision. Their long tail is also quite sharp, and is snapped in the air as a defense mechanism. The tail can also break off if caught by a predator, but grows back without permanent damage. Green iguana skin is very water resistant, and tough to avoid cuts and scratches. The coloring of the skin helps camouflage the green iguana, which means that they blend in easily to their surroundings to remain, undetected by predators. If they are detected however, and need to escape quickly, these iguanas can dive from trees into water, and swim well. Green iguanas are quite sturdy-- they can fall 40-50 feet to the ground without getting hurt! Male green iguanas have a special flap of skin called the dewlap. Male iguanas can raise their dewlap to appear bigger than they really are, either to intimidate predators, or to impress females. Both male and female green iguanas can store fat under their jaws and in their necks for times when there is not much food available.

Behavior: Iguanas are diurnal, meaning that they are awake during the day. They are also cold-blooded, which means they do not produce their own body heat. In other words, if it is cold, the iguana is cold too. So to stay warm, green iguanas bask in the sun, lying on warm rocks as they soak up the sun's heat.

Diet: Green iguanas are omnivorous, so they eat both plants and meat. They tend to eat mostly plants, though, especially leaves and fruits. Sometimes green iguanas (especially young ones) will eat eggs, insects, and small vertebrates.
 

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