The Mexican iguana is native to Central America and Mexico. It is a stocky lizard with a dewlap, saggy skin hanging from his chin to control his temperature. This lizard is covered with scales and has a crest of long spines that protrude from its head, neck, back, and tail. Its exceptional long, keeled, muscular scale-tail is half its total length and is used as a weapon.
A full-grown Mexican iguana has 120 razor-sharp serrated teeth and long sharp claws. This saurian has a primitive third eye on the top of its head called the parietal eye.
Top 4 Astonishing Facts About Mexican Spiny-Tailed Iguana
Mexican spiny-tailed iguanas are yellow as they mature, hence their other name, Banana iguana. The female Mexican iguana is slightly shorter than the male and has brown or gray-brown colors with a yellowish ventral surface.
The juveniles are bright green with no pattern and consume mainly insects. As they grow into adults, they transition to consume mostly leaves, fruits, and flowers. This opportunistic reptile will feed on eggs and small animals once in a while.
Let’s dive into the top 4 facts about this saurian.
1. Mexican Iguanas Pineal Eyes Are Sensitive to Change in Illumination
The parietal eye in Mexican iguana is sensitive to changes in illumination. These eyes send signals to the pineal gland, which indicates the difference between day and night. The reptile also has a Photopigment called parapinopsin that is sensitive to the difference between light and darkness.
The spiny-tailed Mexican iguana has special eye cells called ‘double cone cells’ that enable them to see ultraviolet lights. Aside from the great color vision, their eye also allows Mexican iguana to absorb lots of vitamin D from the ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B rays from the sun.
2. Mexican Spiny Tail Iguana Are Diurnal and Arboreal
The banana iguana is an excellent climber and fast-moving. This reptile is diurnal, meaning they are awake and active during the daytime and sleep at night, just like most humans. The species is also arboreal, as it fancies being up in the trees.
Unlike other solitary species of Ctenosaura, Mexican iguanas are social lizards. They are adapted to living in groups and prefer a rocky habitat with plenty of crevices to hide. Mexican spiny tail iguanas also enjoy basking on the rock and an environment with nearby trees to climb, similar to the black tree monitor that adores spending time on trees.
3. Mexican Iguanas Do Not Camouflage Like Chameleons
Mexican Iguana cannot change colors and blend into their environment. Unlike Chameleons, Mexican iguanas are unable to camouflage. However, they change their color in specific circumstances due to stimuli from their environment at different times in their lifetime.
Some reasons for color change are stress, breeding, or the result of something in their environment. Green juveniles mostly go unnoticed as they hide high in the trees, among the foliage, and you might mistake them for a tree branch.
4. Mexican Iguanas Are Well Adapted to Their Environment
The Mexican spiny tail iguana has a great adaptation that has helped the animal survive for decades. The animal possesses sharp serrated edge teeth that are instrumental when foraging.
These teeth help the docile animal efficiently slice through leaves and other plant matter. The Banana iguana has high speed and will lash with its tails and bite if cornered.
The well-adapted reptile has highly developed vision, allowing them to navigate and communicate easily. When threatened by predators, the Mexican iguana will escape by shedding part of its tail, (just like a curly-tailed lizard that uses the tail as a defense mechanism).
Mexican iguanas are beautiful and exotic creatures with strikingly fascinating colors. The sun-loving saurians are long-lived, especially those in captivity as pets.
However, their population is declining in the wild due to hunting and loss of habitat. Many are also lost in pouching for the pet trade or display animals.