We have over 100 types of reptiles in Belize. Here are a few things you might not know about 2 of our most common iguanas
1: The Green Iguana, scientifically known as Iguana iguana is the largest iguana in Belize, with potential to grow up to 10 feet from tip to tail. They are magnificent and simultaneously scary looking creatures.
2: Belizeans call them Bamboo chicken, because apparently that’s what they taste like – chicken.
3: Funnily enough, despite its name, it’s green only when younger. As it matures, the male becomes more olive, changing to a magnificent orange color when mating. The female is a dull greyish color.
4: Green Iguanas are usually found inland hanging around in trees although they are known to hang out at the Cayes (who doesn’t love to hang out at the Cayes?)
5: They are very good swimmers, and are often seen launching themselves from great heights into a river in order to escape predators and boy, do they make a splash!
6: Apparently green Iguanas often star in dinosaur movies!
7: The other ubiquitous iguana of Belize, is the black or Spiny Iguana, whose scientific name is Ctenosaura similis. This one is usually found along the coast or on the Cayes. It’s locally known as Wish Willy and it likes to hang out on rocks and on the sand but can also climb trees.
8: These critters literally hoover up plants. They seem to eat anything even the ones they aren’t meant to. They especially love young green shoots or flowers , much to the annoyance of many a keen gardener.
9: Both the Spiny and the Green Iguana have a third eye known as a parietal located on the top of the head and looking very much like a scale. This is their early warning alarm. Though they can’t actually see completely through this, they can detect dark shadows and movement and the iguana will move its head to see properly through its true eyes if it detects danger.
10: Both iguanas use a bobbing head movement when threatened. They also use this movement during mating season which is normally from December through to February.
11: Our Iguanas love to sunbathe. In fact, they need the sun to warm their body temperature to at least 75F in order to move.
12: Like all lizards , they shed their tail in order to escape a threatening situation. The tail will continue to move whilst the iguana runs off. Its a very disconcerting thing to see. See this iguana here, his tail is still growing back but he doesn’t care.
13: Belize has a Green Iguana Conservation Project! It is located and run by San Ignacio Resort Hotel and they offer educational tours where you can not only learn about these reptiles, but also get up close and personal with them. Check them out –> Green Iguana Conservation Project