9 Interesting Facts About Iguanas


facts about iguanas
13 Jun, 2024

Iguanas are highly adaptive animals found in an array of environments, ranging from tropical forests to arid deserts. Iguanas also inhabit water. These ancient reptiles, belonging to the lizard family, are known for their distinctive adaptations and impressive defenses. With diversity in sizes and the ability to change color, iguanas have fascinated animal enthusiasts. 

Whether you are a reptile enthusiast or simply curious about these remarkable creatures, this comprehensive guide will provide you with an exploration of some of the most intriguing facts about iguanas. 

9 Interesting Facts About Iguanas

1: There Are 45 Different Iguana Species

There are 45 recognized species of iguana, each with distinct sizes, colors, and habitats. The list includes the Lesser Antillean iguana, Fiji Crested iguana, Desert iguana, Utila spiny-tailed iguana and Rhinoceros iguana to name a few. 

Green Iguana stands out as the most recognized species in Central and South America. Another notable member of the Iguanidae family is the Grand Cayman iguana, also known as the blue iguana, prized for its striking blue hue. It holds the distinction of being the heaviest of all iguanas. 

An especially intriguing species is the Galápagos marine iguana, also known as the sea iguana. This species can swim underwater, making it a unique member.

2: Iguanas Have a Third Eye

Yes, one of the facts about iguanas is that they possess three eyes. The “parietal eye” or “third eye” lies atop the head. This specialized organ is not a visual organ. Instead, it resembles a pale scale that detects changes in light and movement. It serves a crucial role in helping iguanas anticipate threats from predators.  

By constantly monitoring their surroundings with their third eye, iguanas can quickly respond to any possible danger and take evasive action.

3: Iguanas Have a Long Lifespan

Depending on the species, Iguanas’ lifespans range from six to over 60 years.  The Grand Cayman rock iguana holds the record for the longest lifespan (25 to 40 years). Green iguanas have an estimated lifespan of eight years, and marine iguanas have an even shorter lifespan of just over six years.

In their natural habitat, they face numerous challenges, including predators and habitat loss. As these risks are minimized in captivity, they often have the opportunity to live healthier and longer lives.

4: Iguanas Hate the Cold

Iguanas are cold-blooded, so they thrive in warm climates and need high temperatures to survive. As a result, their population is higher in regions such as Central America, South America, and the Caribbean islands. 

If the temperature drops below 40°F (7°C) degrees, iguanas can experience muscle paralysis, which is why they are averse to cold weather. Consequently, their populations are sparse in habitats with cooler climates, such as central and northern Florida.

In places like Miami, where sunlight is abundant, iguanas are often observed basking in the sun to regulate their body temperature and absorb warmth.

5: Iguanas Can Shed Their Tails and Skin

Iguanas possess a unique ability to shed their tail and skin from their body when needed. When trapped or caught by a predator, iguanas can voluntarily shed their tails as a distraction to aid in escape. Furthermore, if an iguana’s tail gets pinned or gets injured, it may intentionally detach its tail to break free and avoid injury.

Skin shedding is another common phenomenon among iguanas which usually occurs at least once a year. However, younger iguanas may shed their skin more frequently because they grow rapidly. This process allows iguanas to remove old or damaged skin and replace it with new one. 

6: Iguanas Can Swim

Some iguanas exhibit remarkable swimming abilities, capable of withstanding both salt and freshwater. In fact, they can submerge themselves for up to four hours at a time.

While most iguanas are terrestrial, the sea iguana of the Galápagos Islands stands apart. It is a marine reptile that forages in the sea, with adult males capable of diving up to 100 feet deep. They are the only lizards on earth known to live in water. 

Marine iguanas can stay underwater for as long as 30 minutes, although they typically limit their underwater adventures to just a few minutes at a time. 

7: Iguanas Can Run Very Fast

One of the fascinating facts about iguanas is that despite their short legs, they are remarkably speedy runners. These creatures are an excellent example of evolutionary adaptation driven by the need to survive from aerial predators. 

The black spiny-tailed iguana, for instance, can reach speeds of up to 21 miles per hour. This impressive agility serves as a primary defense mechanism, enabling iguanas to navigate their environment and evade their predators. This has become a crucial adaptation that enables them to thrive in diverse habitats despite the constant threat of predation.

8: Iguanas Can Communicate With Each Other

Iguanas communicate through physical gestures. Besides making noises, iguanas use different body movements to communicate. One common gesture among iguanas is the slow head bobbing, which is usually a sign of greeting. However, aggressive head bobbing characterized by rapid movements, indicates that iguanas are upset. 

Iguanas can also communicate through their eyes. Closing of one eye signifies comfort. This behavior is common when the iguana feels at ease with its environment but remains vigilant to keep tabs on its surroundings for any potential changes.

9: Iguanas Love Vegetables

Iguanas have a diverse diet. They love eating a variety of vegetables, such as peas, shredded carrots, bell peppers, and green beans. They also thrive on leafy greens such as lettuce and the verdant offerings of most vegetable plants, including potatoes. 

As herbivores, they may occasionally indulge in insects, but their primary focus remains on plant-based foods. Overall, their diet reflects a balance of nutritional needs and natural preferences toward plant matter.


Various interesting facts about iguanas discussed above reveal a world of wonder and fascination. From the most common green iguana to the most visually striking blue iguana, these iconic creatures never fail to intrigue us. Their intricate social structures and communication methods showcase the complexity of these species, leaving us in awe of their intelligence. Furthermore, their ability to run at an impressive speed for defense mechanisms adds more to it, revealing new layers of understanding and appreciation for their beauty. 


What are fun facts about iguanas?

1. There are 45 different iguana species
2. Iguanas have a third eye
3. Iguanas have a long lifespan
4. Iguanas hate the cold
5. Iguanas can shed their tails and skin
6. Iguanas can swim
7. Iguanas can run very fast
8. Iguanas can communicate with each other
9. Iguanas love vegetables

Do iguanas have three eyes?

Yes, iguanas have a third eye on the top of their heads. It helps them to anticipate predators from afar.

How long do iguanas live?

Iguanas usually live for 15 to 20 years, except the Blue Iguana, which can live for more than 30 years.

How fast can an iguana run?

Iguanas can go as fast as 21 miles per hour, with the spiny-tail iguana recorded as the world’s fastest lizard.

Can iguana swim?

Yes, iguanas are excellent swimmers. Many of them can stay underwater for 28 minutes without breathing, using their lungs.

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