Types Of Iguanas (Most Common Iguana Species)

Iguanas are a group of lizard species famous for their vibrant colors, spiky back crests, and the long tails they use to whip away any threats. These beauties generally have a life span of around 15 to 20 years, but with excellent care, some iguanas have been known to live well into their 30s – pretty amazing, huh?

They are originally from the warm climates of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and other parts of the world where they live in various environments from rainforests to deserts.

Understanding the different species of iguanas is crucial for potential pet owners, conservationists, and iguana enthusiasts. Each species has its own set of requirements for care, diet, habitat, and medical needs.

Learning about them is not just important, it’s a responsibility we must undertake to provide them a life they deserve. It also helps conservation efforts as we understand more about their needs and behaviors, especially for those species that are endangered.

Types of Iguanas

There are dozens of different species of iguanas. Here are the most common types of iguanas including a few that are endangered.

1. The Green Iguana


Also known as the American Iguana, these are some of the most popular pet iguanas out there. They are known for their vibrant green color, although they can sometimes display different shades depending on mood or temperature.

The natural habitat of the Green Iguana stretches from Mexico to Brazil and includes the Caribbean islands. They usually reside in tropical rainforests near bodies of water.

As herbivores, their diet mainly consists of leaves, flowers, and fruits. From a pet owner’s perspective, a high-quality diet for a Green Iguana would consist mostly of dark, leafy greens with occasional servings of fruits.

2. The Blue Iguana


Blue Iguanas, or Grand Cayman Iguanas, are truly a sight to behold with their bluish-gray skin. These creatures are native to the Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean. Their environment is more dry and rocky compared to that of the Green Iguana, and their diet is also herbivorous.

In captivity, Blue Iguanas can have quite specific dietary needs, requiring a balance of vegetables, fruits, and even flowers!

3. The Spiny-tail Iguana


Spiny-tail Iguanas scientifically known as Ctenosaura are native to Mexico and Central America. They get their name from the distinctive spiky tail, which they use as a defensive tool against predators. Their environment tends to be dry forests and scrublands.

They have an omnivorous diet, feasting on a variety of insects, small animals, fruits, and flowers. Their needs are a bit more complex when kept as pets, particularly due to their omnivorous diet, which can make it a bit tricky for the average pet owner.

The genus Ctenosaura actually includes 15 species. These species can be located in Mexico and Central America. These species include:

  • The Northeastern Spinytail Iguana
  • Campeche Spinytail Iguana
  • Baker’s Spinytail Iguana
  • Balsas Armed Lizard
  • Yucatán Spinytail Iguana
  • Yellowback Spinytail Iguana
  • Cape Spinytail Iguana
  • Honduran Paleate Spinytail Iguana
  • Oaxacan Spinytail Iguana
  • Roatán Spinytail Iguana
  • Guatemalan Spinytail Iguana
  • Mexican Spinytail Iguana
  • Club Tail Iguana
  • The Black Spinytail Iguana

4. The Cuban Rock Iguana


Cuban Rock Iguanas are endemic to Cuba and are among the largest species of iguanas. They inhabit coastal rocky areas and forested habitats.

This iguana species can attain an impressive length of up to five feet, and its longevity often surpasses half a century. Possessing an innately tractable nature, these iguanas nevertheless demand spacious outdoor habitats, equipped with ample basking areas for optimal health. However, caution is advised when handling these creatures, given their formidable jaw strength capable of inflicting substantial harm to unsuspecting fingers or toes.

Cuban Rock Iguanas boast intriguing variations in their coloration patterns. Primarily, they exhibit shades of dark brown or green interspersed with striking dark bands adorning their bodies. Males often display hues ranging from dark gray to a robust brick red. In contrast, females typically bear an olive-green skin tone, accentuated with dark stripes or bands, contributing to their distinctive allure.

5. The Desert Iguana


As the name suggests, the Desert Iguana hails from desert regions of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. They have a vegetarian diet in the wild, eating buds, fruits, and leaves of many desert plants.

Their sandy-colored skin helps them blend into their environment, providing protection from predators. As a pet, the Desert Iguana requires a diet rich in vegetables and a warm enclosure to mimic its desert habitat.

6. The Rhinoceros Iguana


This impressive species is native to the Caribbean, where it inhabits dry rocky areas and forests. Rhinoceros Iguanas get their name from the horn-like outgrowth on their snout. They are primarily herbivorous but occasionally eat small animals and insects.

They require a large space and lots of sunlight, making them a challenge to keep as pets but very rewarding for those up to it!

7. Chuckwallas


A close relative to the iguana, Chuckwallas are native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They have stocky bodies, and their diet is primarily herbivorous. Their environment should be dry and hot if kept as pets.

The Sauromalus genus includes 5 species which are located in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. Chuckwallas can live for 25 years or more. The males tend to be reddish-pink to orange or yellow to light-gray. Females have light to dark gray bodies. Males are larger than females. The 5 species include:

  • Common Chuckwalla
  • The Peninsular Chuckwalla
  • The Angel Island Chuckwalla
  • The Monserrat Chuckwalla
  • The San Esteban Chuckwalla

8. The Fiji Banded Iguana


The Fiji Banded Iguana is an exquisite species, renowned for its vibrant bright green hue, distinctive crested spines, and elongated tail. Exclusive to the Fiji Islands, this particular species is sadly endangered. While females present a solid color, males delight observers with their unique pattern of blue or green stripes.

These climbing lizards are arboreal, spending the majority of their time nestled among tree branches. Consequently, they are typically found in densely vegetated regions boasting trees towering up to 20 feet or more. These nimble creatures can reach a notable length of up to 7.5 inches.

The Fiji Banded Iguanas are not just adept climbers, they are also exceptional swimmers, favoring the humid climate of wet forests. Their diet primarily consists of a nutritious array of leaves, flowers, and fruits, although they are known to indulge in insects on a rare occasion. In the wild, these stunning creatures have a lifespan reaching up to 15 years, while in the controlled and secure environment of zoos, they can thrive for up to 25 years.

9. Marine Iguanas


If you’ve ever seen a picture of an iguana swimming, it’s probably a Marine Iguana! They are not suitable as pets due to their unique lifestyle and protected status.

The Marine Iguana scientifically known as Amblyrhynchus cristatus are naturally found only on the Galapagos Islands. Unlike many other lizards, the Marine Iguana has the ability to live and forage in the sea. They can dive over 30 ft into the sea.

They are darkish black in color. They are rather clumsy on land but are graceful swimmers. This species is protected under the laws of Ecuador and the actual population number is unknown.

10. The Jamaican Iguana


The Jamaican Iguana holds the title of being the largest native animal species in Jamaica. However, it currently grapples with the severe threat of extinction due to a host of challenges, including invasive species and habitat loss.

Boasting a length of up to two feet, the Jamaican Iguana sports a vivid blend of dark gray, blue, or green hues. Its long, elegant tail is adorned with a distinctive series of triangular stripes running down its spine.

Once a common sight across various southern coastlines of Jamaica, the Jamaican Iguana is now predominantly confined to an area called Hellshire Hills. This terrain is characterized by its dry forests and an array of rocks, predominantly limestone.

Equipped with elongated toes and sharp claws, the Jamaican Iguana has adapted to become an efficient tree-climber. It feasts on a diet of leaves, fruits, and flowers. Although primarily herbivorous, these iguanas are opportunistic and will consume insects, snails, and other small creatures when the opportunity presents itself.

11. Bahamian Rock Iguanas


The Bahamian Rock Iguanas hold the unfortunate title of being one of the most critically endangered lizards globally. Adorned with a distinctive thick-ringed tail and boasting a brownish-pink hue, these iguanas can achieve an impressive length of up to three feet. These captivating creatures call the scattered islands of the Bahamas their home.

The Bahamian Rock Iguana plays a significant role in the Bahamian way of life and directly contributes to the country’s primary industry – tourism. The unique blend of breathtaking natural beauty and the opportunity to observe these iguanas in their native habitat draws innumerable visitors to the Bahamas.

These captivating iguanas are herbivores by nature, indulging in a diet that comprises leaves, flowers, berries, and various fruits. Structurally, they are designed for the rugged life of their natural surroundings. Their long, straight tails and short, muscular limbs equip them for adept tree-climbing and scaling rock formations with ease.

Perhaps one of the most striking characteristics of the Bahamian Rock Iguanas is their surprising proficiency as swimmers, despite their bulky appearance. Notably, they are capable of handling saltwater environments, an uncommon trait among iguanas.

Filled under: Lizards

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