Iguanas are everywhere on St. John, you just sometimes have to stare at the same space for a while until you actually see them! The species found on St. John is called “Green Iguana” but that does not mean they are actually green (they are after birth but then change into various colors).
IGUANA FACTS & TALES
- The Iguana is a large lizard and grows up to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) in length from head to tail. They are active during daylight hours
- Iguanas are believed to use visual signals to communicate with each other. They communicate through a series of rapid eye movements and “head bobs” which are easily noticed by other iguanas because of their excellent eyesight.
- They can also detach their tails if caught and will grow another without permanent damage
- They are “vegetarians” feeding mostly on leaves, flowers, grasses and fruit. They have strong jaws and very sharp teeth with which they will shred the food. Don’t go too close, you might get snapped!
- They are excellent swimmers, some are even seen surfing! Well, I never saw one surfing but I heard people talking about it and Fred, the surfing Iguana is a star in Rebecca M. Hale’s Book “Adrift on St. John” which otherwise is pretty accurate when it comes to description of local nature.
- It is believed the VI Iguanas arrived from South America, being actually caught in trees that drifted in the ocean after storms
- They can fall from as high as 30 feet and survive. They leap when scared but it is also said that Iguanas can fall asleep and then fall down
- Iguanas can actually be responsible for power outages, either by touching two lines and sparking a fire or by dropping down onto transformers from great height…..
- Sadly it is not uncommon to see dead iguanas on the street when driving around on St. John islands. Iguanas are cold blooded – in an effort to regulate their body temperature they often seek out warm objects to lie on or open areas to bask in the sun; for example pavement, roads and rocks. This activity puts iguanas at risk of getting hit by cars.
- They can get up to 20 years old and weigh up to 11lbs (5 kgs)
Female Iguanas lay clutches of 20 to 71 eggs once per year during a nesting period. The female green iguana gives no parental protection after egg laying, apart from defending the nesting burrow during excavation. The hatchlings emerge from the nest after 10–15 weeks of incubation. Baby Iguanas are bright green and their excellent eye sight helps them survive in absence of parental protection.
Protect Iguanas on St. John!
- When driving around on St. John, keep an eye out for these big lizards and give them the right of way when they are crossing!
- Do not try to feed them. Human food might not be healthy for them and this gets them used to people and to hand outs, they might loose their natural ability to find food and there defense reflexes which they need to survive.
Check out this amazing video about the suspected Iguana “invasion”
Sources: Wikipedia, National Geographic and island tales
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