Green Iguana

Scientific Name
Iguana iguana
Also Known As
American Iguana, Bamboo Chicken
All of Florida
Flowers, Leaves, Stems, and Fruit
Life Expectancy
10 - 12 Years

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Green Iguanas in Central Florida

The green iguana (Iguana iguana) is a large arboreal lizard that has become an invasive pest in central Florida. Often released as unwanted pets, green iguanas thrive in the warm subtropical climate. This adaptive reptile damages infrastructure, competes with native wildlife, and can transmit salmonella to humans.

This comprehensive guide provides detailed identification tips, biology facts, and control methods for green iguanas in central Florida. Read on to learn green iguana physiology, habits, reproduction, diet, health risks, signs of infestation, and professional removal options if you have an invasive iguana problem.

Appearance and Identification

Green iguanas can be identified by their characteristic features

Adult Green Iguana

Photo 61950147 (c) mostlymushrooms, CC BY-NC

Adult Black Green Iguanas

  • Size: Mature iguanas reach 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m) long including their tails and weigh around 9 to 20 pounds (4 to 9 kg). Females are generally smaller than males.
  • Color: Vibrant green skin with black bands along their tails. Their dewlaps and lower jaw areas are pink or orange. The jowls and neck may have blue tinges.
  • Other Features: Distinctive dorsal spines, powerful jaws and sharp teeth, long curved claws, and long laterally compressed tail.
Juvenile Green Iguana

Photo 119278313 © Ana Carolina da Fonte, CC BY-NC

Juvenile Green Iguanas

  • Size: Hatchlings are 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long, weighing around 2 to 4 ounces (60 to 110 grams). Within their first year, juveniles reach 1 to 1.5 feet (30 to 45 cm) long including the tail.
  • Color: Juvenile coloration is tan to gray or dark brown with bold dark bands and light spots on their backs. Their underbelly is cream or pale yellow.

Maturation Rate

Green iguanas grow rapidly within their first 3 years, reaching full adult size. Growth slows thereafter. Sexual maturity and breeding typically occur after 2 to 4 years once they achieve substantial size.

Habits and Behavior

Green iguanas are diurnal lizards found along waterways like canals, lakes, and marshes. They bask in the sun on branches overhanging water. Excellent swimmers, they plop into water when threatened. When cold, they become lethargic and seek shelter in dense thickets or burrows. They dig burrows near water up to 15 feet (4.5 m) long.

Green iguanas are territorial, especially mature males. They are solitary except during breeding season. Males defend territory and attend communal nesting sites. Hissing, head-bobbing, and change in dewlap color are threat displays. Iguanas also inflict painful bites and scratches when cornered.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Mating takes place in late fall to early spring in Florida. Females build nests in burrows or soil and lay 20 to 60 eggs in May or June. Eggs incubate for 10 to 12 weeks. Hatchlings emerge in late summer to early fall.

Green iguanas reach maturity and begin breeding between 2 to 4 years old. Their lifespan in the wild averages 10 to 12 years but can exceed 20 years.