The Lizard with Spines
Iguanas are large docile lizards found in the jungles of Central and South America and the Caribbean. Some species live in trees near the water, others are ground dwellers. All are good swimmers. The iguana has black, brown, or green scales. A spiny ridge extends down its back and a dewlap or skin flap hangs from its throat. Different species of iguanas look and act so differently that you might not recognize them as members of the same family. While some iguanas have colors that are vivid and bright, others are rather dull. Iguanas have excellent eyesight and use signals to communicate with other iguanas through a series of rapid eye movements. Most iguanas get around by walking on their four legs. But two types of iguana, the collared lizard of the southwestern United States and Mexico and the basilisk lizard of Mexico and Central America, can run using only two legs. They raise the front of their body and run using their hind legs. Some basilisks can even run on water. A fringe of skin around their toes lets them skim the water’s surface.
The largest iguanas are about six feet in length – which is about the height of a tall adult- over half of which is the tail. Iguanas enjoy a very herbivorous diet with ripened fruit being one of their favorite foods along with leafy green plants. Although large-scale hunting and egg-collecting activities threaten wild iguana populations, the biggest threat to the wild existence of these lizards is habitat loss. Unless steps are taken to protect these lizards that are already threatened with extinction, soon there may not be any Iguanas left in the wild.