Magazine For Isla Mujeres Charities

Photo by Tony Garcia

Iguanas! By Lynda Lock & Rob Herrin


 The Black Iguana of Isla Mujeres Mexico by Rob Herrin "beentravelin"
 LINK to video above:

Black Iguanas by Rob Herrin

I find the Black Iguanas on Isla Mujeres to very intriguing.  They are a protected species in Mexico and seem to have a smooth demeanor. Commonly know as Black Spiny-tailed Iguanas or more formerly Ctensaura Similis.  Not to be confused with the Mexican Spiny-tailed Iguana or Ctensaura Pectinata found on the west coast. It's name comes from the Greek words: ctenos, meaning "comb" and saura meaning "lizard".
 It is native to Central America and Mexico. They have been known to be aggressive when threatened. They are the largest members of the genus Ctenosaura, males capable of growing up to 1.5 meters (4 ft 11 in) in length and females slightly shorter at 1 meter (3 ft 3 in). One little known fact is that they are the fastest running lizard on earth and according to Guinness the can reach a top speed of 21.7 mph or 34.9 km/h.

They are primarily herbivorous, eating flowers, leaves, stems, and fruit, but they will opportunistically eat smaller animals, eggs, and arthropods. Juveniles tend to be insectivores becoming more herbivorous as they get older. Feeding them is not recommended as they may become dependent on humans for food. They seem to love Hibiscus flowers.
A word of warning: Use caution when driving around on your scooter or golf cart to avoid hurting these beautiful creatures. If you can find the time between fruity drinks on the beach and dining on Hidalgo, spend it watching these prehistoric carryovers interact.


What's the Favourite Colour of a Bamboo Chicken?By Lynda Lock

Red, orange or yellow!

Green Iguanas (flippantly known as bamboo chicken) are attracted to bright colours such as red, orange and yellow.  From personal experience I'd say that this bit of trivia found on a website dedicated to the care and feeding of pet iguanas is correct.  We have had iguanas munch on our yellow hose nozzle, attack the orange handle on the rake, or beg for treats when I wear my red gardening gloves.  But lettuce, cucumbers, and broccoli hold absolutely no fascination for them.  Iguanas don't have teeth as such, just bony ridges that can, as my sister Joann discovered, do damage to fingers if you forget to keep those pink-wiggly-things out of the iguana's mouth. 

One of our neighbours
They primarily reside in rock piles along the beach, or in empty lots,  But, they will also tunnel under houses, or take up residence in just about anything that can be considered a burrow - such as the large drain on the side of our house.  Their biggest enemy seems to be dogs, especially dogs that are hungry, or dogs that like to dig.  We have seen a few dead, or about-to-be-dead, iguanas being carted off by a dog or two on the island.  Some of the dogs get quite excited, yipping while digging up the burrows, and that's when we use our super-duper water-cannon and chase the marauders away.  However, occasionally the dog is a quiet, efficient hunter and secures his prize before we can interfere.  Score: Dog - 1, Iguana - 0.

Municipality installed iguana-crossing warning signs
Iguanas also have a poor survival record when crossing the busy sections of the island's roadways.  The municipality has recently gone on a campaign to make drivers more aware of many favourite iguana-crossing locations on the island by posting caution and yield-to-iguanas signs.

I was surprised to learn that Green Iguanas are classified as "Threatened" and are so listed on Appendix II of the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).   We have at least 15 to 20 Green Iguanas currently in residence along this stretch of the beach.  It's really hard to get an accurate head count because the little devils all look alike.

Several of the neighbours enjoying veggies
There is one other natural enemy that I should mention - hurricanes.  The big waves associated with tropical storms and hurricanes can drown them inside their burrows.  Iguanas need heat to be active.  Typically we experience a rapid drop in temperature with storms, making it difficult for the lizard to escape the inundation of water.  So, between dogs, vehicles, hurricanes - and small boys with slingshots - these hapless critters can use a helping hand. 

Keep in mind though they are vegetarians.  Don't feed them cat food, dog food, cheese, leftover pizza, biscuits, or anything with protein, wheat or corn in it.  A diet that contains animal proteins will lead to kidney failure, and this is a terribly long and drawn out way for an iguana to die.  

Treats for iguana at local marina
The fresh fruit or vegetables should be shredded or chopped into small pieces.  Remember they don't have teeth.  Some suggestions on the pet websites include green beans, winter squash, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots.   Fruit can also be offered such as strawberries, cantaloupe or raspberries.  Not my raspberries!  I'm not sharing my imported raspberries with iguanas.  I do share the local papayas, pineapples, mangoes, and bananas.  They adore bananas.  When I appear with a dish of bananas those lizards run so fast their four little legs barely touch the ground.

A couple of other funny facts about iguanas. 

1. They shed.  Depending on its growth rate and age an iguana will shed from once to many times in a year.  An iguana's skin will begin to turn a dull, hazy shade of grey indicating it needs to shed.  It's a messy affair with bits and pieces hanging off in a state of disarray. The fresh new skin will be shiny and brightly coloured. 


2. The male iguanas have a hemipenis.  That's two - that they can use alternately.  Twice the fun!

LINK   to original post on Lynda's blog: Notes From Paradise. Sept 29, 2011

Iguana photos

by Jackie Conlin

Photos below by Bruce Roberts

Iguana statue at Punta Sur (South Point)



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