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Los Llanos, Casanare, Colombia

(Iguana iguana)

IUCN status : Not evaluated

It is the third largest lizard in the world after Komodo Dragons and Blue Iguanas. They can grow up to 6 feet and weigh up to 9 Kgs.

Its skin is tough and waterproof. They also have a bunch of extra skin below their necks called a dewlap. This dewlap helps them to regulate their temperature, which is helpful as they are cold-blooded and their bodies don't control their body temperature automatically. The dewlap is also used as a display of aggression or as communication. The iguana will spread the dewlap wide to appear bigger and bob its head up and down. As they grow, iguanas will shed their skin and will continue to do so throughout life.

An interesting feature of green iguanas is their third eye. This is an extra eye on top of their head called a parietal eye. It is actually a pineal gland which acts as a photosensory organ. This eye is not quite like a normal eye and does not have alens, but it can help iguanas detect the movement of a predator sneaking up on them from above (like a bird) allowing the iguana to escape. Iguanas have good eyesight with their "regular" eyes as well.

Green Iguanas can survive a fall of 40-50 feet. Green Iguanas are excellent swimmers and will dive into the water to avoid predators. Hawks are the most feared predators to Green Iguanas. Iguanas will often freeze and be unable to move at the sound of a hawk's cry. Green Iguanas can stay submerged for 30 minutes. Their tail can break off if grabbed, but its okay as they can grow a new one. Although classed as omnivores they tend to stick to an herbivorous diet.

Iguanas potentially carry salmonella bacteria in their gastrointestinal tracts, and generally these bacteria do not harm them in any way. When the bacteria pass into the lizard’s stool, however, the stool becomes a potential source of infection for people and pets who may come into contact with it and may put their contaminated hands in their mouths. Salmonella can cause serious gastrointestinal upset, blood infection and even death in people (especially infants and the elderly) with compromised immune systems.

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