Land Iguana

Land Iguana, South Plaza Isl., Galapagos

Land Iguana, South Plaza Isl., Galapagos

A large reptile found on the Galapagos Islands, the land iguana can easily be seen slowly making its way across the volcanic terrain.  This kind of proximity to animals that visitors experience while visiting the Galapagos is perhaps most profound with the iguanas.


Over 3 feet (1 m) long and weighing up to 30 pounds (13 k), they are usually seen basking or eating.  Hugging the ground with their short-legged bodies, their diet, not surprisingly, consists of low-growing plants and fallen fruits.  As they lumber along looking for food, that awesome tail drags behind creating long trails in the sand.  Another attractive food is cactus pads, for the moisture they hold.  One of the many curious aspects of this prehistoric-looking iguana:  it is able to remove the cactus spines with its claws.


As cold-blooded creatures, they bask in the sunshine gathering heat, an element necessary for their metabolism.  The lifespan of Conolophus subcristatus is a long one:  50 years or more.  You can read more about the land iguana here.


Land Iguana, South Plaza Isl., Galapagos

Land Iguana, South Plaza Isl., Galapagos

Three species of land iguana live here.  The one pictured here, C. subcristatus, is the most common.  Another iguana on these Islands are the marine iguanas; occasionally the two species of iguana (land and marine) will mate, but these hybrids are thought to be sterile.  I wrote a marine iguana post recently, link here. To read more about the Galapagos Islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean, click here.



Land Iguana, iIsabela Isl., Galapagos

Land Iguana, Isabela Isl., Galapagos

There are approximately 5,000 to 10,000 land iguanas and their conservation status is vulnerable and threatened.  Natural predators like hawks, and introduced predators such as feral dogs, have taken their toll on this species.  Additionally, although Galapagos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site now, there were many past centuries when wildlife were hunted before conservation became established.  I am happy to say, many efforts over the years to protect the land iguana have been successful.


That we can still visit the same place that Charles Darwin did in 1835 and observe the same creatures he did, is a remarkable accomplishment.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander



43 thoughts on “Land Iguana

    • Great comment, Mike; it relays the absolutely mesmerizing effect of the iguanas and your devout dedication to photographing them. You made me smile today, thanks so much. 😀

    • I think you would enjoy a visit to the G. Isl., Janet. Tourists have to primarily visit by boat and on a tour, so if you can swing those things, you would like it. Thanks so much my friend! 😀

    • Yes, it is very fascinating work and discoveries that Darwin introduced, and how wonderful that we can still retrace his footsteps. Thanks so much for your comment. Isn’t it fun when we get a repeat of unsolicited information? 😀

    • Fortunately it doesn’t get that bad, Jan. The hawk takes on the little babies as they make their way out of their birth burrow. Sorry I didn’t make that clear. 🙂

  1. Fascinating information. Wonderful to know that the efforts that protect the land iguana have been successful. 🙂 Thank you for sharing, Jet! 🙂

    • Oh yes, Nan, so primitive looking; especially watching their scaly yellow feet trudging along the black volcanic rock. Very cool. Thanks so much for your visit today Nan! 😀

  2. What interesting iguanas! They indeed look prehistoric! And how amazing to be in the same place Darwin was over 150 years ago…Yet again, you give me a view into the corners of the world that I’ve yet to visit! Thank you!

  3. Jet I let out a little squeal at the sight of your post. It’s 9 sleeps to departure. I began talking to the iguanas via the computer screen. Can’t wait to see them for myself!

    • I am so glad you saw it Sue! I didn’t know if you might have left yet and SO wanted to share some of these beauties with you before departure. Please give all my animal friends a big hug for me (or a howdy is fine too, lol). 😀 😀

      • Have a blast Sue! They tend to keep tourists on a short leash there (for conservation purposes), I hope your curious side doesn’t get you into trouble…. lol. 😀 😀

  4. Iguanas are so cool! I’d be excited as a young child should I have the opportunity to see one with my own eyes. I’m glad to see I’m the only ‘iguana fan’ 🙂 😀

  5. Have you heard that so many iguanas species are threatened on Isabela island, after the eruption of the Wolf volcano ? Especially the pink iguana.. this is so sad, but it’s nature I suppose. I quite like iguana, they are very iconic

    • Yes, there was hope that they would not be affected. Galapagos is all volcanoes, and the Wolf one is in the far north, so I’m still hoping it will be okay. I really like iguanas, too, my friend. Thanks so much for the news update. 😀

  6. It’s amazing that we can still retrace Darwin’s steps and see the same wildlife! Something good must be happening 🙂 Very informative post, Jet!

  7. Iguanas – they remind me of backpacking in Costa Rica. Its been many years now, but I think it must have been a species of iguanas we meet there. They can seem slow, but I can tell you they are not! We were in Montezuma relaxing on the beach. The iguanas were everywhere and usually sat still in the shadow so we didn’t pay to much attention to them. I felt they were at a safe distance. Oh how wrong would I have been…. Without warning one of the 1 meter iguanas came running directly towards me with the speed of light! I obviously jumped up on both feet. At that time the iguana realised he was heading towards this screaming woman and turned around to get away. His speed was so high he wasn’t able to turn around before he was between my feet! He was gone in a second after that. It was at that time I saw the tiny lizard running away and I understood the iguana had been hunting the lizard and probably didn’t even notice me until I got up on two feet:) That’s one experience I’ll never forget.

    • That’s a great story, Inger. I would’ve been riled too. Wildlife adventures like this can be crazy at the moment, but yes, we do not forget them. Many thanks! 😀

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