All About the Reproduction of the Common Green Iguana

06 March, 2021
This reptile mates during the dry season to ensure that the young (between 10 and 30 per clutch) hatch in the rainy season. The eggs hatch after 3 to 4 months of incubation.

The green iguana, or common green iguana, is a reptile native to Central and South America. This species also inhabits several islands in the Caribbean and on the coast of the Eastern Tropical Pacific. It can also be found in Florida and Hawaii. In this article, we’ll talk about everything you should know about the reproduction of the common green iguana, which might as well be your pet.

The common green iguana: habitat and morphology

The common green iguana lives in the tree cover of the forests and jungles of Central and South America. According to their age, iguanas go onto the highest and the most central branches of the tree of their choice. So, the older the iguana, the higher the branch it lives on.

Their arboreal environment allows them not only to have ample control over their territory, but also to enjoy the sun’s rays, as the canopy would otherwise obstruct the light.

Iguana as a pet.

Additionally, regarding its morphology, an adult specimen can weigh between 4 and 8 kg (9 to 18 lb) and measure up to 2 m (6.5 ft). Despite its name, the pigmentation of its skin varies, but it becomes progressively more uniform with age.

Halfway between green and brown, the common green iguana can change its skin color depending on temperature, physical condition or mood changes. Moreover, dominant iguanas tend to have a darker color.

The so-called parietal eye, an organ located on the dorsal part of its skull, is a sensory organ that measures sunlight in its environment and contributes to the development of the sexual organs, thyroid gland, and endocrine glands.

Sexual maturation and reproduction

Most female common green iguanas reach sexual maturity at between three and four years of age, even though sometimes this may occur at younger ages. Mating usually takes place during the dry season, ensuring that hatchlings are born in the rainy season.

Common green iguana reproduction.

The sexual behavior of the common green iguana can be described as polygynandry. This type of behavior means that a group of males mates exclusively with two or more females. One of the positive aspects of polygynandry is that it encourages a cooperative method of breeding that includes both parents.

During courtship, the male expands and contracts his chin, bites the female’s neck and moves his neck up and down. Another peculiarity of the reproduction of the common green iguana is that the female can store the male’s sperm for years and fertilize the eggs long after copulation.

The eggs are laid 65 days after mating. Laying lasts about three days, and takes place in several nests dug at about 45 cm (18 in) deep into the ground. It’s quite common for females to share nests.

Finally, eggs hatch after a period of 90 to 120 days of incubation. Between 10 and 30 hatchlings are usually born. Once hatched, parents tend to leave them very quickly.