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Rhinoceros iguana

Scientific name: Cyclura cornuta Rhinoceros iguana

Country: Dominican Republic, Haiti

Continent: North America

Diet: Fruits, leaves and flowers

Food & feeding: Herbivore

Habitats: Tropical dry forest

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Relatives: Galapagos marine iguana

Description: This powerful lizard's body is quite stout and is crested with a row of spines along the back. It has strong legs that enable it to walk with its body well elevated from the ground. They are usually a dull grey-brown colour. A fully grown male is quite an impressive animal - the can be 56 cm in length and weigh 10 kg.

Lifestyle: These large lizards are entirely vegetarian. They spend their days eating and basking in the sun and retreat at night into burrows, hollow trunks or caves. Males defend territories and keep watch from favourite sunbathing spots on top of large rocks or in tall trees.

Family & friends: Males are territorial and hostile towards other males.

Keeping in touch: Vigorous head-bobbing is an important signal in iguana society. High territorial vantage points mean that a head-bob signal can be seen by all iguanas in the area.

Growing up: Rhinoceros iguanas mate in the spring just before the rainy season. Females excavate a tunnel about one metre in length in which they lay up to 34 eggs. The young iguanas hatch up to six months later. The young are miniatures of their parents and are completely independent but more arboreal (tree-dwelling) at this age. They reach maturity in about three years and have a life expectancy of over 30 years.

 The rhinoceros iguana is named from the three horny lumps on the top of its snout, which are much less conspicuous in the female than in the male.

Conservation news: This species was common in the wild up to the early 1950s. Sadly 35% of their original habitat has now been lost. Clearing of forests for firewood is a major problem and introduced cats, dogs and pigs take a heavy toll on adults and eggs. This species is now protected and public education programmes hope to secure its future.

Our rhinoceros iguanas bred for the first in 2009 and we successfully hatched out 17 youngsters.