Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A to Z Challenge - I is for Iguana

In keeping with my nature theme, today's post is about the iguana. I could have waited until the day for the letter L, as iguanas are lizards, but I like saying iguana better than lizard. Doesn't the word just roll off your tongue?

But I digress. Here is what I learned about iguanas in my research.

Iguanas are characterized by a row of spines running down their back to their tail, called a dewlap, and a third "eye" on their head. This eye is known as the parietal eye, visible as a pale scale on the top of the head. Behind their neck are small scales which resemble spokes, known as tuberculate scales. These scales may be a variety of colors and are not always visible from close distances. They have a large round scale on their cheek known as a subtympanic shield.

Iguanas have excellent vision and can see shapes, shadows, colors and movement at long distances. Iguanas use their eyes to navigate through crowded forests, as well as for finding food. They use visual signals to communicate with other members of the same species. Iguanas are often hard to spot, as they tend to blend into their surroundings due to the color of their scales.

These lizards don't just live in the wild, however. According to Christine Hancock from the Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital in California, iguanas are one of the most popular reptiles kept as pets. "This animal (sic)can grow anywhere from 4-6 feet in length, reaching a maximum weight of 10-15 pounds. On average, they live 12-15 years in captivity, however they can live up to 20 years if taken care of properly. Iguanas come from a hot and humid environment, therefore, they are more active during daylight hours. They can become territorial and will not hesitate to use their strong and powerful jaws, nails, or tail."

Iguana's are not to be confused with geckos. Geckos are unique among lizards in their vocalizations, making chirping sounds in social interactions with other geckos. There are close to 1,500 different species of geckos worldwide and many others likely yet to be discovered.

Many species are well known for their specialized toe pads that enable them to climb smooth and vertical surfaces, and even cross indoor ceilings with ease. In warm regions of the world some species of geckos are welcome guests inside homes. When he was in the Air Force, my husband had one inside his barracks in Guam, and everyone was happy to have the lizard there to combat the mosquitoes. 

Geckos come in various patterns and colors such as purple, pink, blue, and black, and are among the most colorful lizards in the world. We see the one pictured here most often in the summer. They run along the top rail of my deck, and sometimes I have seen them snapping up a few mosquitoes. Thank you very much.

What about you? Do you have iguanas or geckos where you live? Ever had one for a pet?

(photos courtesy of Wikipedia)


L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've always wanted a lizard but my husband says no pets he can't pet.

Maryannwrites said...

I'm with your husband. Prefer something soft and cuddly as a pet. (smile)

Shannon Lawrence said...

I don't believe we have iguanas or geckos, though we do have desert-type lizards of some sort here. My brother captured a couple and kept them as pets, and they were happy to be pets--all the crickets they could eat!

I loved being in Florida and seeing little lizards everywhere. No idea what type they were, but they were tiny and fast.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

The Armchair Squid said...

No lizards in New England. But I love your theme. Good luck with the rest of the challenge.

Margo Berendsen said...

I love lizards - I used to have pet anoles. If I lived in a tropical climate I would definitely keep geckos to keep the bug population down!