Black iguana also known as Mexican Spinytail iguana

Reptile staring at you

The black iguana also is known as the Mexican spiny-tailed iguana is typical of Mexico. It is a fascinating animal that prefers to live near rivers or in tropical and rocky forests.

An endangered species, married for its meat and forced to take a back seat more and more by the destruction of its habitat.

There are organizations dedicated to the breeding of these animals to increase their numbers and thus avoid their future disappearance.

Characteristics of black iguanas

As they grow up they become vegan. This means that when Mexican spiny-tailed iguana is born, they feed mainly on insects and small animals, but in adulthood, they feed exclusively on plants.

They can feed on insect meat for up to seven months, after which dried fruits and leaves will be the main source of food for the black iguana.

It has many physical and behavioral similarities to the green iguana.

They do not reach reproductive age until they are three years old, and like the green iguana, their young are born through eggs that they deposit underground.

Where does the black iguana live?

Mexican Spiny-Tailed iguana

Mainly in Mexico, although it has also been introduced to Florida and the state of Texas in the United States and breeds in a natural habitat.

Characteristic of the tropical and subtropical forest Lives in regions with temperatures between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius.

It is estimated that in Florida alone, more specifically on the island of Gasparilla, there are 12,000 of these iguanas. All were born from an accidental release in 1970 by an importer of exotic species.

Because they are not native to the area, they are considered a pest by the residents, even causing damage to electrical and telephone wiring, eating turtle eggs and other species, and digging nests that put the inhabitants at risk from the strong waves and rising tides.

It is very resistant to the climate, being young they are arboricultural, living in the trees.

As they age they change their habitat to flatter terrains, even living on the roofs of the people on the island of Gasparilla. They spend their time basking and feeding.

The black iguana, an endangered species

The increase in female hunting to take iguana eggs as a menu has put the number of species in a delicate state.

Insecticides are also a threat to this species, as they decrease the population of insects, which is a menu for iguana hatchlings and youngsters.

Although hunting this animal is illegal, it is an activity carried out to appropriate the meat that is used in many Latin American menus. Its skin is also exploited for bags and handicrafts.

Also, the healing properties attributed to its meat and fat are responsible for having dramatically reduced their numbers.

Illegal hunting is extremely inhumane with these species, to the point of opening their bellies to remove their eggs and then releasing them alive to die in the wild.

They are also known to bite, so hunters tend to cook their mouths.

Reproduction of the black iguana.

Mexican spiny-tailed iguana on the rocks

Between November and December, during the mating season, the male tries to seduce the female by inflating his chin and dancing with the agitated movements of his head. The coitus of the black iguana lasts from three to twelve minutes.

The female in February and April digs nests in the ground to deposit the eggs.

At birth, black iguanas are green, but they take on their black skin coloring as they age.

The two main differences between the black iguana and the green iguana are in their behavior, while the green iguana is docile to humans and manageable in the home, the black iguana is aggressive and will not hesitate to bite a person’s finger and hold on to it.

Another difference is in their taste. While the green iguana enjoys swimming, the black iguana rarely swims, except to escape from a predator and even prefers to walk on rocks.

They are not recommended as a pet iguana, either because of their aggressiveness or because in their youth they do not accept to eat dead insects and the food must be alive.

Importance of the Mexican spiny-tailed iguana in nature

In nature, thanks to the consumption of fruit, through its feces it spreads seeds throughout the land, contributing to the cycle of nature.

Thanks to their carnivorous eating habits in their youth, they are an excellent choice for controlling insect pests and small rodents.

In programs of controlled and sustainable exploitation, their meat is a great economic resource, since, in Latin American regions, their meat is attributed with curative properties, so they are generally raised together with green iguanas to facilitate the care of the iguana and exploitation.

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