Seneca Park Zoo’s male iguana, Anzu, lives with the two-toed sloth, agoutis and golden lion tamarins in the Main Building. He was born in 2010 and came to the Zoo in 2015.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Least concern. However, the green iguana’s popularity in the pet trade and as a food source in Latin America makes it necessary to monitor the population so it remains unthreatened.
Green iguanas are arboreal lizards, meaning that they spend most of their lives in trees. They live in tropical rainforests, with the older iguanas inhabiting the canopy higher up while the juveniles inhabit the lower canopy. Green iguanas prefer to inhabit areas with a nearby source of water, as they create burrows near the riverbanks. They can be found from Mexico to Brazil.
The green iguana is an omnivore. They are primarily vegetarian, eating fruit and vegetation, but they also eat insects, rodents and worms.
Locals in Central and South America call the green iguana, “Gallina de Palo,” which means “Chicken of the Tree.” These iguanas are farmed for food and reportedly taste like chicken.
The green iguana’s long and muscular tail allows it to be a very adept swimmer. It will let its four limbs hang down in the water while it uses its tail to propel itself through the water with strong side-strokes.
Green iguanas are common in captivity as pets. They can grow between 5- and 6-feet-long head to tail and weigh between 9 and 20 pounds.
Although these iguanas are called green iguanas, their coloration is variable. The juveniles are usually splotchy, and mature iguanas are usually uniform in color. Even within the span of one day, the green iguana can vary its color, which aids in its temperature regulation.
A baby green iguana takes about three years to reach maturity.