Green Iguana

Green Iguana

Iguana iguana

Common name:

Green Iguana

Scientific name:

Iguana iguana

Alternative common names:


The green iguana is a large, arboreal, mostly herbivorous species of lizard. They spend most of their lives in the canopy, descending only infrequently to mate, lay eggs, or change trees. These large lizards can reach head to tail lengths of around 2 m.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Central and South America.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA category 2 in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga Provinces.

How does it spread?

Spread via pet trade.

Why is it a problem?

Their fruit-feeding activities spread seeds in the habitat. The most adverse effect green iguanas have on humans would be eating exotic tropical foliage in gardens. They do not pose any major problems for humans.

What does it look like?

Description: Although called green iguanas, these animals are actually variable in color. The adults become more uniform in color with age, whereas the young may appear blotchier or banded between green and brown. Color of an individual may also vary based upon its mood, temperature, health, or social status. Other distinguishing features of this species include a pendulous dewlap under the throat, a dorsal crest made up of dermal spines that run from the mid neck to the tail base, and a long tapering tail. The dewlap is more developed in adult males than females.

Habitat: Green Iguanas are arboreal lizards that live high in the tree canopy. Juveniles establish areas lower in the canopies while older mature iguanas reside higher up. This tree dwelling habit allows them to bask in the sun, rarely coming down except when females dig burrows to lay eggs.

Breeding: Most green iguanas reach sexual maturity between three and four years of age, although maturity can be reached earlier. Iguanas tend to breed in the dry season, ensuring that young hatch in the wet season when food is more readily available. Females lay their eggs about 65 days after mating (eggs take 59 to 84 days to develop before they are laid). Over the course of three days, females may up to 65 eggs, each measuring around 15.4 mm in diameter, and 35 to 40 mm in length. Eggs are deposited into nests which are located 45 cm to more than a meter deep, and may be shared with other females if nesting areas are limited. Incubation lasts from 90 to 120 days.

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