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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Species Fact Profile: Grand Cayman Iguana (Cyclura lewisi)

Grand Cayman (Blue) Iguana
Cyclura lewsi (Grant, 1940)

Range: Grand Cayman
Habitat: Scrubland, Evergreen Forest
Diet: Leaves, Stems, Fruits, Flowers
Social Grouping: Solitary, Territorial
Lifespan: 60 Years + (Captivity)
Reproduction: Breed annually in the spring, up to 22 eggs (depending on age and size of female) in nest chamber dug into the soil.  Eggs hatch after 65-100 days (varies by temperature), hatchlings disperse after hatching.  Sexually mature at 2-9 years (depends on rate of growth)
Conservation Status: IUCN Endangered, CITES Appendix I

  • Largest native land animal on Grand Cayman and one of the largest lizards in the Western Hemisphere, weighing over 11 kilograms and measuring 1.5 meters from head to tail.  Males are larger than females
  • Color changes throughout  the year from the slate-gray outside of the breeding season to a bright, turquoise blue during the breeding season.  Juveniles are gray with dark chevrons
  • Gravid (egg-carrying) females do not feed throughout breeding season, their digestive system squeezed by the eggs inside of them; they do not feed until the eggs are laid
  • Juveniles preyed upon by snakes, adults have no natural predators
  • Both sexes are very territorial, defending their rock heaps with head-bobbing, attack if intruders come too close; fights between males of similar-size can be very violent and bloody
  • Previously listed as a subspecies of Cuban iguana (C. nubilia), now recognized as a full species
  • Threats include loss of habitat, casualties from car collisions, direct persecution from farmers, and predation from introduced cats and dogs.  The population reached a low of approximately 10-25 iguanas in the wild by 2002
  • Conservation efforts include captive breeding and release (once juveniles are large enough to defend themselves against predators), habitat protection, and community outreachv

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