Desert Iguana Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Desert Iguana

Scientific Name:

Dipososaurus dorsalis

Wild Status:

Least Concern


desert scrubland


southwestern US, Mexico



Life Span:

up to 14 years


16 inches

Cool Facts:

Desert iguanas are herbivores and in particular are fond of eating creosote.   While it is generally found in arid desert habitat, the southernmost tip of the desert iguana's range consists of tropical and subtropical forest.   The species name of dorsalis, which is Greek for the word "spike," is a reference  to the keeled scales that run down the animal's back.   Desert iguanas often utilize the abandoned burrows of other animals such as foxes and desert tortoises.


The desert iguana is a medium-sized lizard that can be found throughout the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of North America. They are one of the few lizard species specialized for herbivory. Desert iguanas can tolerate higher temperatures than other desert lizards but will retreat to burrows to escape the heat. Normally a dull grayish-tan, during the breeding season both sexes develop pink coloration.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom - Animalia Phylum - Chordata Class - Reptilia Order - Squamata Family - Iguanidae Genus - Dipsosaurus Species - D. dorsalis

Conservation & Helping:

The desert iguana is one of the most common desert lizards, with a population estimated at over 100,000. It is classified as Least Concern.

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