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belize iguana

Iguana is a word derived from the Spanish way of pronouncing the original Taino name for the species known as "Iwana." The Taino, are native inhabitants of many Caribbean islands and are not the same species that are found today in Central and South America.

Only two species are species of iguanas are found in Central and South America: the Black Iguana and the Green Iguana. It is widely believed that these populations of iguanas in Central and South America were brought to Central America by South American tribes as a food source, where they still are eaten to this day. Between the Green and the Black Iguanas, the Green Iguana is the largest, sometimes by almost a foot. However, both species have been recorded of reaching lengths of over 6ft.



Iguanas love trees and are considered arboreal, meaning, they are capable of moving very well trough trees. Iguanas are very good climbers and are able to fall from heights up to 50 feet and be unscathed. During cold and/or wet weather, iguanas will stay on the ground, resting on rocks for greater warmth. Iguanas can withstand amazingly low temperatures. Their hearts have four chambers and each chamber will shut down as the body is exposed to colder temperatures. The fourth heart chamber will beat so shallow and slowly that the casual observer will think the iguana has expired. Iguanas can often be found near water and love to swim. An iguana can remain submerged under water for amazing lengths of time while propelling through the water using their powerful tail strokes.

Iguanas love to eat leaves, flowers and fruits. There are over 100 different species of plants that iguanas are known to eat. However an iguana cannot just eat anything, it must have a ratio of 2 times the amount of calcium over the amount of phosphorus to keep a stable and healthy diet. Juvenile iguanas have been observed eating the feces from adults in order to gain essential "micro flora" to help them with their difficultly in digesting a solely vegetarian diet.

An iguana will make a unique family pet if it is acquired as a baby. A pet iguanas should be kept in a type of fish aquarium container or sturdy box with the bottom lined with sand and a good sized rock and a type of tree branch for the iguana to climb on. Plenty of light is essential for an iguana, thus the box or aquarium should be placed near a good light source, such as a window. If one lives in a colder climate the aquarium or box should have a hooded light. A bit of advice: keep the lid secured - a pet iguana is a real 'escape artist.'

Once a pet iguana becomes used to being handled by its owner they will even allow the owner to fit them with a collar and can be taken for walks! If one has an iguana for a pet it is important to know that an upset iguana will seldom bite, rather their owners simply get slapped by the iguanas tail! And, remember, if you are thinking about a pet iguana they do grow, so plan on ultimate housing accommodations for a mature iguana of between 4 to six feet. If you have decided that a pet iguana is not for you and decided to simply observe them in the wild do remember that while observing any forms of wildlife please have respect for it and remember the the wildlife was there before you. Keep your distance from any forms of wildlife and they will do the same.  ~ Anthony Benjamin


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