Monday, June 7, 2010

Grand Cayman Blue Iguana

Grand Cayman Blue Iguanas (or Grand Cayman Iguana, or even just Blue Iguana) are extremely endangered in the wild, and have been for quite some time. In fact, they are the most endangered iguana in the entire world. Their species name, lewisi, comes from the naturalist who first wrote about them, Bernard C. Lewis. Even back in 1938, Lewis understood their rarity, stating that he doubted more than a dozen even lived on the island.

Blue Iguanas live naturally in only one location, Grand Cayman, a 76 square mile island in the Caribbean Sea. It is the largest animal native to the island, growing 5 feet long and weight 25-30lbs. These iguanas are also one of the longest-lived species of  lizard, with the oldest on record dying at the age of 69.

Like most iguanas, Grand Caymans are herbivores. Studies show that their diet entails 45 different species of plant, with 80% of their overall consumption coming from leaves, and the remaining 20% from fruit. These iguanas are solitary animals, with females guarding a single territory and males alternating between multiple locations. During mating season, the males will try and extend their range further, encompassing as many female territories as possible. Females stop eating in order to make room for the 20ish eggs that she will lay. Iguanas, like most reptiles, do not assist in raising their young.

Groups are now working diligently to restore the species in the wild. A Nation Trust has been set up, which receives assistance not only from the local government, but also from zoos and organizations from around the world. There are now over 300 iguanas in the wild, with hopes to get the number up over 1,000, which would remove its Critically Endangered ranking. However, steps still need to be taken to ensure that their habitat is protected, as human factors, along with dog and cat populations, still threaten the species.


  1. That is incredible that they can live as long as 69 years. It is nice to see that they are trying to get the population back to healthy levels. It is definitely tough when they are limited by geographic location.

    Great post!
    Keep it up!

  2. Yeah, the geographic location seems to be the biggest hindrance at this point. I wasn't able to find exact numbers, but it appears that the captive populations are doing extremely well. Grand Cayman has been so populated that finding safe places to reintroduce the Iguanas to is difficult.


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