Monday, April 11, 2016

A-Z Blog Challenge: I is for Iguana

And what fascinating creatures these are. They are lizards which are usually stocky in shape with loose skin under their throats and spines along their heads, down their spine and on to their tail. They are found in warm sub-tropical and tropical areas of Mexico, Central and South America, islands in the Caribbean, Fiji, Madagascar and the Galápagos Islands. They are not found in Australia despite how similar some of the Australian dragon lizards look.

I first got intrigued by iguanas when I watched a documentary about the marine iguanas of the Galápagos. These dive to feed on algae or seaweed growing on reefs but the other iguanas are land feeders although apparently they don't mind a swim. They vary widely in appearance and size and live in a range of habitats including tropical forest, desert and along rocky coastlines. Most are strictly herbivorous although according to some enjoy worms, crickets and baby mice - I'm guessing the mouse eaters would be those kept as pets.

The green iguana, (Iguana iguana) has the greatest length of any iguana - it can reach two meters in length - and is a popular pet which can live for 15-20 years in captivity. I'm somewhat conflicted about this because, while I'm happy to keep as pets animals which are domesticated, I feel other animals really belong in their natural habitat. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that, because less than benign human activity has driven many creatures to extinction or its brink in the wild, if it wasn't for captive animals and the breeding programs associated with many of them (whether they are pets or in zoos), we would have to face the loss of some complete species. Tricky, isn't it. Happily, though, the green iguana is in not danger of extinction as it is one of the more common of its species and, as long as it is appropriately cared for, is no doubt content.

There's a lot of interesting information about the various kinds of iguana at this San Diego Zoo link.


Guilie Castillo said...

Cool post, Helen! Iguanas may well be Curaçao's national animal—there's a lot of 'em :) They hang out in the fruit trees in our backyard; the tamarind, especially, seems to be a favorite. One of our (seven) dogs sits under the tree, patiently waiting... Every once in a while one will fall (iguana, not tamarind), and then I'll have to do the 'NO! Leave it! LEAVE IT!' routine. Which works pretty well... unless i'm not home. Then I have to deal with the carcass, and try my best not to be upset with my dogs; it's too late to scold them and make an effective impression.

I'm with you: not sure if iguanas should be kept as pets, though I understand they seem to bond with humans well. I suppose the part about captivity that gets me the most is the cage... If the animal can be 'kept' without a cage or other restrictive enclosure, then... maybe.

Happy A2Z-ing!
Guilie @ Life In Dogs (and member of co-host Damyanti's team, D's Company )

Helen V. said...

Hi Guilie. Thanks for dropping by. You're right about the cage. I think that's what bothers me. When I was growing up at different times we had a couple of pet Australian magpies living in our very big yard. Both had wing injuries and couldn't fly but they had the freedom to do what they liked when they liked and they could have left at any time. They're very social birds and in the wild they live in family groups and I think as far as they were concerned we were their family so they never wanted to leave. To me that's the best way to interact with wild creatures.