Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

on 19th December 2021

The green iguana (Iguana iguana) is not native to South-East Asia.  Frequent sightings of the reptile in Singapore is attributed to escaped or released pets.  These lizards can come in different skin colours and the photos by Dr Ow Boon Hin captured one that is  reddish-brown and yet another one that is green in colour.  Wong Kais captured a video of one with a mix of grey and yellow-green colours.

The reptiles are diurnal, mainly herbivorous but have been reported to eat insects, snails, bird eggs and chicks in the wild.  Some pet owners feed them omnivorously. The lizards can grow up to 1.7 m and are therefore not suitable as pets in urbanised high-rise apartments in Singapore. They are known to be good swimmers and require plenty of exposure to sunlight to stay healthy.

The tail can be as long as its body. A row of spines on its back and tail makes the animal look formidable and a deterrent to would-be predators. The long tail can be used to strike at predators and like other lizards, can be used to escape by breaking off  when handled. A new tail will regenerate in time. A fold of skin below its lower jaw, called the dewlap, is believed to help in thermo-regulation, courtship and territorial displays. Males and females look alike but males have taller spines and bigger dewlaps.

The large, round protuberance below the ear is known as the subtympanic shield. Some people believe that this structure has no physiological or sensory functions. It is suggested that this shield intimidates predators by giving the impression that large eyes are staring at them.


Photo 1 courtesy of Dr Ow Boon Hin. Young green iguana at the Warren Golf Course. 16 December 2021 at 3.55 pm


Photo 2. Courtesy Teo Lee Wei. A green iguana in the Jurong Bird Park. 13 December 2021.  12 pm


Photo 3. Courtesy Teo Lee Wei. a green iguana clambering out of a sandpit at Jurong Bird Park. 13 December 2021. 1 pm

Video 1 by Wong Kais. An iguana ambles across the pedestrian pathway leading to the aviary at Jurong Bird Park, Singapore. 13 December 2021 at 12 pm

Video 2 by Wong Kais. 13 December 2021 at 1 pm. A green iguana perched on a tree stump at Jurong Bird Park, Singapore.


Artcle by Teo Lee Wei



If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

LW Teo

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