The Iguana is a species of reptile that is found in the jungles of central and south America, and the Caribbean. They are perhaps more widely known as an exotic pet. The Iguana is thought to make a desirable pet because of its largely docile attitude. However, this pet trade (combined with other factors like destruction of habitat and global warming) has lead the Iguana to be labelled as ‘threatened’ on the IUCN extinction list. Despite a somewhat laid back lifestyle, they have been measured at travelling at over 20 mph!
The Iguana can grow up to 6 – 7 feet long and weigh up to 20 pounds. They live on a varied diet that can consist of a mix between insects and different jungle plants. Being a docile animal that lives in the jungle, it may be surprising that Iguana has managed to survive this long in the wild. However, the Iguana has become a master of camouflage and has skin that matches the jungle terrain. This is useful in helping the animal avoid predators such as hawks, eagles and snakes!
Another way the Iguana is able to avoid predation is by using its enhanced eyesight. Iguana’s eyes are specially adapted to detect movement from great distances and this allows them to detect both their prey and their predators. This, combined with their camouflage, means that the Iguana can sometimes detect their predators and reposition themselves even before the predators have detected them! Another use for their extraordinary eyesight is in communication. Iguanas, like a lot of other reptiles, use visual cues in order to communicate with other individual iguanas. To do this, the iguana’s use rapid eye movements which convey a specific message. This is only able to be picked up by Iguanas because of their acute eyesight and allows them to have a very accurate communication method over long distances!
One final mechanism an Iguana will use to avoid predation is by using water. The Iguanas are excellent swimmers and can dive deep under water. This means that they are able to avoid flying predators by swimming under the water and re-emerging at a different area; avoiding the predator. Iguanas generally live ‘alone’ and only meet up with others to mate. A typical litter of Iguanas consist of 3 children and these grow to adulthood in a couple of years.
Whilst I was researching for this, I found it hard coming up with an interesting animal (no offence Iguanas!) If anyone had any suggestions for other animals to cover (especially for the more difficult letters like x, y and z!) then please comment below to let me know!