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Cool Facts About Iguanas You May Not Know

Last Reviewed and Updated on June 26, 2022

Iguanas are one of the more interesting-looking lizards, their spikes are a sight to behold. Did you know they have a third eye? No? Read on to learn more amazing facts about iguanas, one of the largest lizards out there.

1. They are big

Iguanas can grow to impressive sizes, they can grow to 5 to 6 feet / 1.5 to 1.8 m in length, including their tails.  Their tails account for over half their length.

They can get pretty heavy too, when fully grown an iguana can weigh as much as 20 pounds / 9 kg.

2. Iguanas are primarily herbivores, but are omnivores

Iguanas predominantly eat foliage (folivores). In the wild their diet almost entirely consists of tree leaves and vines. They will also eat flowers and fruit. They can also eat insects and other small animals.

3. They are active during the day

Much like most humans, iguanas are most active during the day and will rest during the night.

4. Iguanas are mostly found on the trees

They are arboreal (living in trees). Since their diet mainly consists of tree foliage, living on trees makes perfect sense. This fact about iguanas might be a bit shocking, considering their average size.

5. They can fall from trees if it’s too cold

Here is an interesting iguana fact; they can fall from trees! They are great climbers, however, if the temperatures fall too much, iguanas will “shut down” and won’t be able to maintain their grip on the branches. This is not common and will likely happen if an area where iguanas reside is hit with colder weather than expected for the region which was the case in Florida in January 2020 for example.

6. They can detach their tail if threatened

Can’t escape predators? Distract them! When iguanas are threatened by predators and their chances of escaping aren’t optimistic, they will detach their tails. The tail will continue to wiggle, capturing the attention of a predator and allowing the iguana to escape.

This is a rather effective defensive mechanism, however, iguanas without tails are more vulnerable and make for easier prey.

7. Their tails grow back

This is one of the most fascinating facts about iguanas. Iguanas dropping and regrowing tails is a process known as autotomy. When the tail grows back, and it can take anywhere from only a couple of months to a year, it can be shaped differently or have different coloration.

They are able to regrow their tails multiple times.

8. Like all lizards, iguanas are cold-blooded

Iguanas depend on outer sources to regulate their body temperature. Sun and warm soil will help raise their temperature, while water and shade will help them lower it.

9. They have spikes on their back

One of their more impressive visual features is their spikes. They serve a defensive purpose as they can appear threatening to potential predators (and chewing on spikey animals is no fun).

They may also help with temperature control.

10. While they might not look like it, they are fast

Iguanas will move slowly most of the time, but when they run they can achieve a speed of up to 21 miles per hour / 34 km/h.

11. Iguanas shed their skin

Like other reptiles, iguanas too shed their skin. They shed it in pieces, unlike snakes who shed it as a whole.

12. Iguanas have a “third eye”

Last on this list of facts about iguanas is a weird one. They have a parietal eye (pineal eye) on top of their heads and it’s an organ capable of discerning light and movement.

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