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Land Iguana

 

There are two endemic species of land iguana in the Galápagos archipelago: the more common Land Iguana (Conolophus subcristats, iguana terrestre) and the island-specific Santa Fé Land Iguana (Conolophus pallidus, iguana terrestre de Santa Fé). Both species look very similar, with pale to dark yellow coloring, but the Santa Fé land iguana is paler, has a more pronounced crest, and is covered with distinctive military camouflage. There are also select examples of land and marine iguanas hybridizing, the result of which is a land-loving iguana with dark skin, light-colored bands, a small spinal crest, and webbed feet.

During the period of reproduction (the end of the year), males take on a brilliant red color to attract the females and become extremely territorial. After a somewhat violent copulation, the females will then lay six to eight eggs in underground nests, usually between January and March. The eggs are incubated for about 45 to 50 days, after which time young iguanas face the formidable challenge of surviving natural and introduced predators (especially the Galápagos Hawk). It is estimated that 70 percent of young land iguanas survive. The average life span is 45 years.

Land iguanas have a fairly limited home range of about 100 m2, which means that they feed in a small area, mostly on pads and fruit from the opuntia cactus, and thus can be affected by localized climatic changes. They are most common at Cerro Dragon (Santa Cruz), South Plaza, and North Seymour. Sometimes you can see them at Urvina Bay (Isabela). You can also usually see some at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to The Galápagos Islands: Getting Around the Galapagos Islands, Red-Billed Tropicbird, Gardner Bay/Tortuga Rock Visitor Site, Champion Islet Visitor Site, Flamingo, Punta Suarez, Post Office Bay Visitor Site, When to Go to the Galápagos, Fish in the Galápagos and Herons and Egrets in the Galapagos.








04 Jun 2007




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