Spiny-tailed Iguana

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Today’s post features a species that isn’t native to our desert.  The Spiny-tailed Iguana is a Mexican and Central American species.  That said, it roams free on the grounds of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum thanks to someone who released a few of them decades ago.  The freed lizards found the museum’s lush vegetation to be to their liking and so, they’ve not only taken up residence on the museum’s grounds but they’ve reproduced through many generations.  Today, they can be found just about anywhere on the grounds.

They are big.  Adult Spiny-tailed Iguanas sometimes attain sizes of close to two feet in length, larger than any of our domestic lizards.  They have a prehistoric look to them, like something out of a text on dinosaurs.  They remind me more than a bit of the monsters that Japanese filmmakers conjured up in a long series of films beginning with Godzilla.

They fall neatly into the category of something so ugly that it’s cute.  They are extremely phlegmatic, spending most of their days just sitting around on the rocks.  Occasionally, one will rouse itself in order to eat.  Once done with that it resumes its somnolent state.

These large and formidable looking lizards are completely harmless.  Unlike most lizards, iguanas are vegetarians.  They get their nutrition and their water intake by munching on the leaves and green shoots of plants.  A close look at this lizard reveals a purple lower jaw.  That comes from eating the fruits of Prickly Pear Cactus, a delicacy that iguanas simply love to consume.

Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f3.5 L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite and stabilized by monopod, M setting, ISO 160, f10 @ 1/160.

One response to “Spiny-tailed Iguana”

  1. Liesl Kii says :

    Agreed – so ugly it’s cute!

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