Green Iguana Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Green Iguana

Scientific Name:

Iguana iguana

Wild Status:

Least Concern


Humid arboreal areas


Many Central and South American countries



Life Span:

20 years



Cool Facts:

  • Although invasive in some countries, in others, this species is endangered .
  • One of the most popular pet reptiles in the US.
  • Although it is named green iguana, it can come in many colors. Watch our video on iguanas!
  • A powerful tail and jaw coupled with serrated teeth make the iguana a dangerous animal when angered.
  • Its sharp teeth are used to feast on leaves, which make up the majority of its diet as it is an herbivore.
  • Like the Leopard Gecko, the green iguana can drop its tail to evade predators. Both species grow new tails.
  • Spends most of its life on trees, usually near a body of water. Should they find themselves in danger, they can jump into rivers and swim to safety.
  • Its cousins, the rock iguanas, are also amazing swimmers who feed on algae.
  • Our green iguana, Hans, is quite the handsome lizard. He was found with his two front legs missing and makes the most out of life as a lizard unable to climb trees.


Green Iguanas are one of the most iconic reptiles on the planet. Easily recognizable by their dewlaps, jowls, spikes, and massive tail, they are kept as pets in much of the US. However, the pet trade has led to many green iguanas to be taken from their native environments by the thousands. These iguanas arrive to the US dehydrated and starving, or worse, dead. A growing number of green iguana breeders exist, and attempt to raise iguanas humanely and responsibly. As pets, they tend to be small and calm for the first year. However, fully grown male iguanas are some of the most formidable lizards in the Americas. Their serrated teeth and powerful jaws are enough to tear off fingers and a well aimed tail whip can cause bleeding and injury. Most iguanas do not make it to this point, however, due to improper diets and husbandry, with many iguanas remaining underfed and underdeveloped. Thankfully, with proper care and dedication, green iguanas can spend many comfortable years with humans. Key to this success is space, as iguanas can be territorial and like to bask high up on trees. For this reason, caring for a green iguana indoors can be a challenge, and quite expensive.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Suborder: Iguania
  • Family: Iguanidae
  • Genus: Iguana
  • Species: I. iguana

Conservation & Helping:

In some countries such as the US, they are considered invasive and are thriving in warm and humid environments. In their native countries, they are in decline due to the pet export and hunting. Iguanas are considered a good source of food, particularly the larger specimens. However, given their dominance elsewhere, they are not considered endangered.  

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