Did you know juvenile iguanas are capable of running as fast as 10 miles per hour and that they are excellent swimmers? Well, I didn’t. So in order to feed my curiosity, I decided to join my fellow colleague Humberto to learn about Gomez’s family at the Green Iguana Conservation Project— winner of Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence 2013 and the site’s number 1 activity in San Ignacio. Here’s what I learnt:
The Green Iguana is an arboreal lizard who lives in the areas of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. They are often referred to as ‘Guana’ and ‘Garobo’ in Belize. Although the name might state otherwise, Green Iguanas can be of various colours; when young, they are bright green but as they grow older their colour changes to a greyish green or dull brown. During mating season, the males redden to an orange hue with black stripes on their tails. Other factors that affect colour changes in iguanas are social status, health, mood, and temperature.
These little creatures (maybe not so little as they can grow up to 7 feet) are very docile; however, when threatened they tend to lie low and remain motionless. Green Iguanas can evade predators by jumping off trees up to 40 feet high, land flat on their bellies into the river and submerge for up to 30 minutes. Yet, they do have other defense mechanisms. For example, they have a ‘third eye’ or parietal eye that allows them to collect shadows of flying predators and strong, flexible tails that they snap after their predators. Their tail can also regenerate, this means that they have the ability to grow back if unattached from their bodies, pretty cool, right?
Green Iguanas are considered to be a cooking delicacy for many locals, which is why they are often referred to as ‘Chicken of the Trees’ and ‘Bamboo Chicken’. As a result, they are often overhunted to be stewed and served with coconut rice or cooked into a soup. This is why the San Ignacio Resort Hotel invested into a Conservation Project in an effort to preserve and learn more about these friendly creatures, outside the pot.
If you would like to gain more information on these little guys, you can book a tour or read more at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel.