Green Iguana

(Iguana iguana)

Common Name: Green Iguana

Scientific Name: Iguana iguana

Reptiles Alive Name: Little Jerry Garcia

Hisstory: Little Jerry was found on a 7th floor windowsill at an apartment building in NW DC. A DC animal control officer captured the iguana and the Washington Humane Society posted news of the iguanas capture on the building’s email group but no owner was located. The iguana was then transferred to RA

RA Diet: Greens, vegetables, some fruit and a special zoo food made for iguanas.

Natural Diet: Leaves, flowers, and fruit.Range: Mexico, Central and South America. Introduced into Florida and Hawaii.

Habitat: The canopy of tropical rain forests is the normal habitat of iguanas, but they can also be found in urban areas around homes and hotels.

Size: These huge lizards grow 5-7 feet long from nose to tail and can weigh up to 18 pounds.

Lifespan: Iguanas often live over 20 years.

Reproduction: A female iguana will lay 12-40 eggs buried in the forest floor. The eggs take 90-120 days to incubate. Babies spend the first part of their life in the under story. They will climb up to the canopy as they grow bigger.

Conservation: Iguanas face threats from the loss of habitat, the pet trade, and they are sometimes hunted for food.

You Should Know: Iguanas are commonly kept as pets, but most pet iguanas either die from improper care or are abandoned when they get large. Many pet stores buy iguanas bred in “puppy mill” conditions, and sell them for low prices to unsuspecting buyers and without the proper equipment. (Proper iguana housing costs over $500 dollars.) Iguanas have sharp teeth, a strong bite, sharp claws, and do NOT make good pets, especially for children. Thousands are euthanized annualy because proper homes cannot be found for them.

Cool Facts: Iguanas have a big flap of skin under their chin called a dewlap. They communicate to each other by lowering their dewlap and bobbing their head up and down. When threatened, iguanas can whip their spiky tail like a dinosaur. If that doesn’t work, they will leap out of the tall trees and dive into a river below. They tuck their legs against their bodies and swim like crocodiles.

“Excellent! The command, the ability, to harness the attention of children was stunning!” – Sheila Latham, Parent