The Green Iguana

Charli Saltzman

Do we have any reptile lovers on here? If so, this post is for you. You hear all the time about adopting a dog, cat, or bird, but how many times do you hear about adopting an iguana? It is something I don’t know much about, but here are some fun facts for you. First, the Green Iguana is an herbivore that can grow up to 5-7 feet. They are known as the largest lizards in the Americas as they can also grow up to 11-18 pounds. These animals have sharp claws and a powerful tale that wards off predators. Some of them will eat insects, but most of the time they feed on vegetation. They live near water sources but can also climb trees. They are stout and quick, splashing into the water if threatened by a predator. These reptiles can live up to 20 years. However, when removed from their natural habitat, they may die within a year. This is where the problem arises.

These iguanas are the most popular pet lizards in the United States, even though they are very difficult to care for. Part of it has to do with how huge they are. Second, a person would have to have plenty of vegetation around. Sweet potatoes would work fine. And finally, these lizards may not survive away from the wild. Many people who own these lizards turn them over to rescue groups or just let them loose. Their natural habitat is the rain forest, so leaving them there would be the best for them. Still, because of the constant destruction of the rain forests, steps are being taken to move this threatened species to safety.

Permits are being obtained to move these iguanas to different locations. Several have been exported from the rain forest and imported into the United States. Once these animals are in the United States, it is legal for anyone to purchase them. A second step is the formation of captive farming. This type of farming breeds these lizards for pets. Unfortunately the gene pool is decreasing as the green iguana is being mass produced. Their traits or phenotypes are becoming more similar as a result. So, are we helping this species with the steps we are taking to preserve them? Or, would they be better off in the rain forest where they can eat their vegetation, rest and hunt in social groups as they do, and continue using their fabulous swimming skills? Only time will tell.

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