Galapagos Iguana

The endemic Galapagos iguana

Three species of iguanas can be found on six of the Galapagos Islands. From head to tail, they can measure up to 1.2 metres long! These iguanas are endemic to the Galapagos Islands and can be found in the following islands:

  1. Santa Cruz Island (North)
  2. Baltra Island – Repopulated after world war II
  3. North Seymour Island – Repopulated by an American researcher in 1932
  4. Isabela Island (Southwest)
  5. Isabela Island (Northern Wolf Volcano) – only discovered in 2009
  6. Santa Fé Island

Species Protection

In 1975, with the introduction of dogs on Santa Cruz Island, the population of iguanas were greatly reduced. The remaining 38 iguanas were transported to a smaller island – Venecia Island. The iguanas were later repopulated on Santa Cruz after the presence of dogs on the island has been eradicated. Lately, they have also been repopulated on Baltra Island. Many of the iguanas found on North Seymour island originated from Baltra. Iguanas are extremely gentle creatures who are very friendly towards people. Iguanas are currently not considered to be endangered.

A golden iguana looks for food in the Santa Fé
Galapagos island Plaza Sur is a land of contrasting colours: the golden land iguanas, the red leichen, green opuntia cactuses and turquoise waters.

Habitat and Diet

Iguanas love feeding on Opuntia (Lava cactus) and it is an absolute treat when they get their hands on some! It is rather interesting to watch how they use their forelegs to roll the cactus flesh on the ground until all needles are removed. Small needles are eaten and the excited iguanas often swallow the cactus whole with little chewing. The moist cactus flesh serves as a source of water for the iguanas.

Iguanas are reptiles who are active in the day and search actively for food in the mornings and late afternoons. They never wander too far away from their self-built nest and tend to stay in the shade during the noon to avoid the blistering heat. Female iguanas often lay three twelve eggs with leather-like shells and they are buried in a hole in the ground. The eggs hatch after 50 days. The natural enemy of these newly-hatched iguanas is the Galapagos eagle.

To plan your trip better, check out our Galapagos Islands monthly animal activities chart.


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