Iguanas In Belize.
Iguanas are quite plentiful here in Belize so don’t be surprised to see them everywhere. They are as plentiful here in San Pedro as squirrels are back in Canada and the US. They are afraid of humans so they won’t chase you, but they may cause you problems in your garden as they search for food. If we sit on our deck with a pineapple snack Iggy pictured on the left will come running from wherever she is in the yard and sit at safe distance hoping for her share.
“Iggy” (short for iguana) is the smaller of two iguanas that frequents our backyard and makes her home under the concrete walkway where we live. Iggy is about 22 inches long including her tail. I know she is a female because she does not have glands (hemipenis) under her chin and she did not turn orange during the mating season.
“Sbig” (short for big iguana) is in the picture on the right, and is the larger iguana that we see in our back yard, I believe it is a no brainer that he is here to visit Iggy. However at just over 6 feet long including his tail he is too big to live anywhere on our property and lives in one of the nearby vacant treed properties.
Iguanas are reptiles (cold blooded animals) and in Belize there are two species. Green Iguanas and Spiny Tail Iguanas. Each is easily identified by their differing features.
- Greens live in the tree tops while Spiny Tails live in old block walls, piles of rock, or underground as Iggy does, under the concrete walkway in our backyard.
- Spiny Tails are gray, while Greens are green when they are young turning generally brown as they mature. Mature males of both species turn orange during mating season which is which is between December and February.
- Spiny Tails are typically shorter than Greens, their tails are about the same length as their bodies (maybe an inch or two longer) while a Greens tail is twice the length of its body.
- Spiny Tails eat insects along with fruits and vegetables where as Greens are strictly herbivores.
Both species are fairly agile and although they don’t look like it, they can run quite fast on straight legs and with the use of their tails can also swim very well.
Iguanas do have predators.
Their main predators are large carnivores, which include humans. That’s right, iguanas and their eggs are eaten by humans, and supposedly they do taste like chicken. But seriously, the iguana population in Belize is actually under threat due largely to the destruction of their natural habitat, and human hunters taking iguanas for their eggs and meat.
There have been laws put in place during the mating season to protect the iguana eggs from being harvested by hunters. Also,
The San Ignacio Hotel, located in San Ignacio, Belize is where the “Iguana Project” works to conserve the iguanas of Belize. This project includes two vital programs: Adopt an Iguana and the Iguana Kids Club, both of which promote the process of incubating, hatching, rearing, and releasing young iguanas back into the wild. Youth participating in the programs walk away with new found awareness and education about these large reptiles.
Click on this link for more information on iguanas and the Iguana Project and their efforts to preserve these reptiles.