Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lesser Antillean Iguana

Iguana delicatissima
Meet the Lesser Antillean Iguana, one of the two members of the Iguana genus, and a resident of the Carribbean Lesser Antilles Islands.

Males of the species have a very interesting anatomical trait- they change color when it comes time to breed! They are typically more green in color, but when the time comes to mate their bodies goes gray, their jaws go pink, and the tops of their heads turn blue!

During the breeding season the dominant males will defends territories that contain up to half a dozen females. Reproduction coincides with the growth of vegetation during the wet season. This allows the new little hatchlings to have plenty of food right off the bat.

The Lesser Antillean Iguana was once found throughout the island chain, but they are now confined to only a few locations. Habitat loss, fragmentation, and hunting by both humans and introduced predators all played big parts in the population decline. Another factor was inbreeding; non-native Green Iguanas were introduced to the area and began to reproduce with the endemic species. The Lesser Antillean Iguanas are now illegal to hunt, but feral predators and hybridization still pose threats. There have been efforts to breed the species in captivity, but success has been extremely limited. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is the only location to produce fertile eggs.

IUCN Status : Endangered
Location : Lesser Antilles
Size : Body Length up to 16in (40cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Sauropsida -- Order : Squamata
Family : Iguanidae -- Genus : Iguana -- Species : I. delicatissima

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