The Green Iguana
During my travels I have encountered many different types of wildlife and this week I will introduce you to the green iguana, which I found to be very docile even though it may look very fierce and threatening. The green iguana is part of the ancient iguana family and found in many parts of the world including on some of the Islands of Fiji. It should not be mistaken for the Fiji banded Iguana or the very rare and endangered Fiji crested iguana. The green iguana is found in Central and South America as well as parts of Africa, it is mostly a herbivore preferring feeding on lush vegetation and eating exotic tropical foliage. Although they are called green iguanas but they can actually vary in many colours and shades as they become adults. The colour depends on many variances which are its mood, temperature, health and surrounding shrubbery. Its size varies but can be up to one meter in length; but the tail will take up the majority of its size. Typically they can weigh anything from one to four kilogrammes, which make them very nimble and fleet footed when the need arises. The green iguana is most commonly found in tree tops where they are safest and also are often found near water. Being agile climbers the Iguana can fall up to 15 metres and land unhurt, they use their hind leg claws to clasp leaves and branches to break a fall. During cold, wet weather, green iguanas sometimes prefer to stay on the ground for greater warmth. Interesting when swimming, an iguana remains submerged, letting its four legs hang limply against its side. They instead propel through the water with powerful tail strokes. Unfortunately this species of Iguana is found to be an ideal pet due to its calm disposition and bright colours, but don’t be fooled it can be very demanding to care for properly. It firstly requires a good amount of space to be able to move around. Then there is the need for special lighting and a regulated heat source which can be extremely challenging for an amateur pet enthusiast. The pet trade has put a great demand on the green iguana and it is imported illegally globally for this very purpose. However as said before these animals are demanding to care for properly over their lifetime, and many die within a short time once purchased. The green iguanas in captivity will eat meat if presented with it, but excessive consumption of animal protein results in severe kidney problems and premature death. Another horrifying misinformation passed onto pet owners is that they tend to feed iguanas ice lettuce, which provides iguanas with water but has no other nutritional value. A captive green iguana’s diet should consist of fresh leafy vegetables and access to fresh water. Green iguanas will thrive only in temperatures of 26 to 35 degrees Centigrade and must have appropriate sources of UVB and UVA lighting, or else their bodies cannot produce adequate Vitamin D that promotes calcium absorption, which can result in a metabolic bone disease that can be fatal. You may be wondering why I am stressing the point that Iguanas in general should be left in their natural habitat and the reasoning behind this is the fact that approx imately 5000 to 10,000 of these majestic animals are sold illegally every week as pets instead of enjoying a fulfilled life. They generally end up dead through misinformation and negligence. The common cause of death is a combination of incorrect diet and also inadequate lighting and wrong temperature. So finally if you do know of anyone in our global village who is considering to keep an iguana as a pet, please request them to think it through and be aware of the challenges ahead for both pet and owner.
Ajay Bhai Amrit with a green iguana.
The Green Iguana.