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Meet the iguanas: fascinating lizards thriving in tropical regions of the Western Hemisphere. Recognizable by their robust build, warty, scaly skin, striking back spines, and distinctive dewlap under their necks, these creatures are a sight to behold.

The name “iguana” has its roots in the Taino language, where “iwana” specifically describes these lizards in the Caribbean.

Iguanas are not just intriguing in appearance; their calm demeanor has made them beloved pets in the U.S. Yet, in the wild, many iguanas are endangered species that face threats, with some dangerously close to extinction.

Ten Popular Types of Iguana Species

Let’s explore ten different types of iguana species, each with its own unique flair!

1. Green Iguanas

Green Iguana is a popular pet iguana that can grow up to seven feet long and weigh up to 18 pounds! These gentle giants need a spacious cage, warm temperatures, and humidity to thrive.

They love a vegetarian diet of greens, flowers, and fruits.

Originally from Brazil and Paraguay, they’ve also made homes in Mexico, South Florida, Hawaii, and even Texas. True to their name, they’re mostly green but with fun splashes of orange, blue, black, and white.

Noticeable features include spiny backs, large dewlaps under their chins, and strong jaws. Common green iguanas are a sight to see and a joy to care for!

2. Cuban Rock Iguana

how many types of iguanas are there

The Cuban Rock Iguana is a fascinating lizard native to Cuba and its surrounding islands. These ground-dwellers can grow up to five feet long and have impressive lifespans of over 50 years.

Known for their tamability, they do need spacious outdoor enclosures with sunny spots to bask in. But watch out – their strong jaws can be quite powerful!

Cuban rock iguanas sport a range of colors. Typically, they’re dark brown or green, with striking dark bands across their bodies.

The males often display dark gray to brick red hues, while the females usually show off in shades of olive green with dark stripes or bands.

3. Desert Iguana

different iguana species

The Desert Iguana, a native to the dry landscapes of Mexico, California, is a true desert dweller, spending its days on the sandy ground and sun-warmed rocks.

They are often the only lizards active during the scorching midday sun, making them one of the most heat-tolerant reptile species in North America.

Sporting a unique color palette of white, dark gray, and reddish-brown tones, the Desert Iguana blends seamlessly into its arid surroundings.

Keeping one as a pet can be challenging, as these lizards are known for their finicky eating habits, sometimes refusing even the most tempting treats like edible flowers.

4. Rhinoceros Iguanas

iguana breeds

The Rhinoceros Iguana, named for the distinctive horn-like protrusions on the males’ snouts, is an endangered species coveted by many for its striking appearance. Hailing from Haiti and the Dominican Republic, these iguanas favor the dry, rocky, and forested coastal areas.

Their grayish-brown to black coloring provides excellent camouflage against predators in their natural habitats.

While Rhinoceros Iguanas can be known for their aggressive behavior, it’s important to note that temperament can vary greatly among individuals.

These impressive lizards have a notable lifespan, often living for more than 20 years.

5. Northeastern Spiny-tailed Iguanas

types of iguanas with pictures

The Northeastern Spiny Tail Iguana, native to Mexico and Guatemala, is known for its unique keeled scales on its lengthy tail. These adept climbers thrive in rocky habitats filled with crevices for hiding, basking rocks, and trees for climbing.

Though primarily herbivorous, feasting on fruits, flowers, leaves, and stems, they won’t shy away from consuming smaller animals, eggs, and arthropods when available.

Growing up to three feet in length, these iguanas are known for being nervous and defensive, often resorting to biting when threatened.

For those considering keeping a Northeastern Spiny Tail Iguana as a pet, it’s crucial to provide a large vertical enclosure to accommodate their climbing instincts and ensure their well-being.

6. Chuckwallas

iguana species

Chuckwallas, native to the dry western regions of North America, are rock-dwelling lizards known for their unique defensive tactics. When scared, they hide among rocks, wedging themselves into tight spots and inflating their bodies, making it hard for predators to pull them out.

Chuckwallas are typically gray with lighter-colored blotches across their bodies. These lizards have a robust build and can grow up to 6.3 inches in length.

They are suitable for experienced keepers in captivity, provided they have a spacious, rocky environment.

As omnivores, Chuckwallas have a diverse diet, including vegetables, seeds, and insects. In captivity, they can be maintained on a strictly herbivorous diet, adapting well to a variety of plant-based foods.

7. Fiji Banded Iguanas

biggest iguana in the world

The Fiji Banded Iguana is a striking species known for its vivid bright green color, crested spines, and elongated tail. This endangered lizard is found only in the Fiji Islands.

The males are particularly eye-catching with their blue or green stripes, while females typically display a solid color.

Adapted to an arboreal lifestyle, these lizards spend most of their time in trees, favoring regions with lush vegetation and tall trees. They reach a length of about 7.5 inches and are adept swimmers.

Fiji Banded Iguanas primarily feed on leaves, flowers, and fruits, occasionally consuming insects.

In the wild, they can live up to 15 years, and in captivity, such as in zoos, their lifespan can extend to 25 years, showcasing their resilience and adaptability.

8. Marine Iguana

iguana names

The Marine Iguana holds the unique title of being the only iguana, and indeed the only lizard, to inhabit the Galapagos Islands and to venture into the ocean. Classified as endangered, these iguanas are a marvel of evolution, comfortably seen lounging on the rocky shores.

These iguanas can grow to an impressive six feet in length and are characterized by their sturdy bodies and short, strong legs. Adults are adorned with a spine-lined row running from their neck to the tail.

Their coloring ranges from black or gray, with lighter dorsal stripes and males often display brighter hues during the breeding season.

Remarkably adapted to their environment, Marine Iguanas primarily feed on sea algae, diving to considerable depths to forage. Living in colonies along the rocky coasts, they are often spotted basking in the sun, warming up after their swims in the cool ocean waters.

9. Jamaican Iguanas

what does iguana look like

Jamaican iguanas are striking reptiles known for their scaly skin and lengthy tails adorned with triangular stripes along their spines. Their scales display a beautiful spectrum of colors, from shades of gray to hues of blue and green.

These iguanas hold the distinction of being the largest native animals in Jamaica, showcasing the island’s unique biodiversity.

The Jamaican Iguana is critically endangered due to habitat loss and invasive species. Once widespread along Jamaica’s southern coasts, the Jamaican Iguana now finds refuge only in the Hellshire Hills, a dry forest area rich in limestone and other rocks.

Adapted to this environment, the iguana uses its long toes and sharp claws to expertly climb trees, where it feeds on leaves, fruits, and flowers.

Although largely herbivorous, these iguanas will also consume insects, snails, and small animals when they’re available, showcasing their adaptability in the diet.

10. Bahamian Rock Iguanas

lizard iguana

Rock iguanas are sizable lizards, and the Bahamian variety typically showcases various shades of brown. They commonly measure between two and a half to three feet in length, making them quite prominent among the reptilian inhabitants of their habitats.

The Bahamian Rock Iguanas are not only stunning in appearance but also among the world’s most endangered lizards. They play a significant role in the Bahamas’ tourism industry, drawing visitors eager to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

As herbivores, Bahamian Rock Iguanas thrive on a diet of leaves, flowers, berries, and fruits. Their physical build, characterized by long, straight tails and short, robust limbs, makes them adept at climbing trees and navigating rocky terrains.

Additionally, these iguanas are surprisingly proficient swimmers in saltwater, adding to their list of remarkable adaptations.


Each iguana species, with its distinct characteristics and habitats, highlights our planet’s rich tapestry of wildlife.

As we explore and understand these unique reptiles, we are reminded of the importance of conservation efforts to protect these irreplaceable inhabitants of our natural world.

By admin

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