|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
The largest species of iguana is the green or common iguana which may grow to a length of more than 6.5 feet, including the tail. Young individuals are a brilliant emerald green, but as they mature, the color becomes more subdued, ranging from pale green through browns, grays, and dull orange. A row of high, flexible spikes of skin project along the back of the body and onto the long heavy tail. Suspended from its throat is a large fold of skin, a dewlap.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Found throughout Central and northern South America and much of the West Indies. It lives in trees in the vicinity of ponds or rivers at altitudes from sea-level to the mountains.
Adults usually eat only plant food. In captivity they relish pinkies and mealworms.
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Sexual maturity at 2 1/2 to 3 years. A single clutch of 28-40 soft-shelled eggs are buried underground along a riverbank. Young hatch in 3 months and are independent from birth. Life span is 10 years.
Iguanas bask on branches of trees during the day, usually over water so that if danger appears the reptile can drop into the river or pool, dive, and remain submerged on the bottom for many minutes. These reptiles are fast runners, good climbers, swimmers and divers. Their long, heavy tails are used for swimming, balance, and defense.
In courtship or territorial battles, both males and females will extend their dewlaps.
STATUS IN WILD:
In some countries the common iguana is hunted for its tender white flesh. Iguana eggs, when found, are also eaten. Habitat destruction and spraying against insects also reduces numbers. In some areas the green iguana is now very scarce or extinct. There is an effort to "farm" them in rain forest plots; this represents more protein per acre than clearing land for cattle production.
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