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Natural History

Natural History of Green Iguana

Green iguanas are found naturally from central Mexico to central South America. They can also be found in several other areas, including Hawaii, Florida, and Puerto Rico, but their presence in these places was brought about by illegal importation and release. In their natural habitat, the weather includes long, sunny days and year-round warm temperatures.

One of the green iguana’s intriguing features is his eyes. They are wide, round, and usually colored brown to golden or sometimes hazel or green. Green iguanas have three eyelids: an upper eyelid, a lower eyelid, and a third transparent eyelid that closes from the bottom up and aids in eye lubrication. Their mouth is large and contains dozens of tiny, diamond-shaped teeth. Each tooth is serrated and extremely sharp. A bite from a green iguana can easily cut deep into your skin.

Inside the mouth is a thick, pink, slightly forked tongue. A green iguana uses its tongue for both tasting and smelling. When he is checking out his surroundings, he will flick his tongue at an object. Then, a sensory organ in the roof of the mouth detects the scent and taste of the item. The green iguana will also use his tongue to help pick up food, as it is slightly sticky.

The green iguana’s tail is another interesting part of its body. The tail is quite long, usually about three times the length of the body and helps to provide balance when walking along branches in the forest and additional power when an iguana is swimming. It can also be used defensively, in two different ways. First of all, a green iguana can use its tail like a whip, flicking any predator (or hobbyist) that gets too close. Also, these lizards can “drop” their tail, severing it at any point along its length, if it is seized in such a way that prevents their escape.


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