Across the warm areas of the world long, lumpy lizards lounge on sun-warmed rocks; surveying the world with a lidded eye. I've met five of the eight genera--Green Iguanas
(iguana iguana), Rock Iguanas (iguana cyclura), Marine Iguanas (iguana amblyrhynchus), Galapagos Land Iguanas (conolophus subcristatus)
and (conolophus pallidus), and Spiny Tailed Iguanas (iguana ctenosaura). I'm on a hunt for the rest.
Click on the sections below to see more iguanas.
Green Iguanas range from Mexico through Central and South America and many of the Caribbean islands. There are also feral populations in California, Florida and Hawaii. Each country I visited has its own shade or tint of iguana iguana to admire.
Iguanas are arboreal. They are good swimmers, jumpers, diggers and baskers. The Caribbean islanders call them tree or bamboo chickens and say (surprise!) they taste like that poultry.
Rock Iguanas have a much smaller range than green iguanas. One species of rock iguanas, the highly endangered blue iguana (Cyclura lewisi) is only found on the Grand Cayman islands. There I visited the fascinating Blue Iguana Recovery Program, an experience I highly recommend.
Marine Iguanas on the Galapagos are descended from a land iguana from the South American mainland. It is the only marine iguana in the world. It's sooty-black skin helps it blend in with the black lava rocks and enables it to absorb more heat from the sun.
Galapagos Land Iguanas are endemic to the Galapagos Islands. Since 1976 the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station have been working to conserve the species.
Spiny Tailed Iguanas are native to Mexico and Central America. They are omnivorous, feeding on fruit, flowers, foliage, as well as frogs and other small animals. The world record sprint speed of lizards (21.5 mph) was set by a Costa Rican Spiny Tailed Iguana.