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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

15 Jamaican Iguana Facts You’ll Never Forget

Jamaican iguana facts tell us that this species is a critically endangered species.

Have you ever heard of a species that was considered extinct and then rediscovered? The population of Jamaican iguanas vanished after the introduction of Indian mongoose to control snakes and rats in the region. The critically endangered Jamaican iguana is the largest native land species of Jamaica, having been thought to be extinct between 1948 and 1990, and is now found in the dry forest of Hellshire Hill at elevations below 1000ft (200m).

The Jamaican iguana is a medium-sized rock iguana with dark gray, greenish to bluish shade, and females measuring smaller than males. Like all Cyclura species, the Jamaican iguana is mainly herbivorous, eating leaves, flowers, and fruits from over 100 different plant species. Insects and invertebrates, including snails, are occasionally used to complement this diet.

Scroll down to learn about the Jamaican rock iguana facts and read our articles on other reptiles like the python and milk snake!

Jamaican Iguana Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Jamaican iguana?

The Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei) belongs to the Iguanidae family of lizards. It is Jamaica's largest native land species and is critically endangered.

What class of animal does a Jamaican iguana belong to?

The Jamaican iguana belongs to the Reptilia class and Cyclura genus.

How many Jamaican iguanas are there in the world?

The species has been considered extinct since the 1940s, however, a small population of iguanas was discovered and confirmed in 1990 in the Hellshire Hills. The fact that Jamaican iguanas can still be found in the wildlife is considered a conservation success story today. Conservation efforts have successfully increased the wildlife population, and their population is estimated to be 100 - 300 in the wildlife today.

Where does a Jamaican iguana live?

The Jamaican iguanas now only exist in St. Catherine's dry, rocky, limestone forest areas of Hellshire hills. The iguana was last seen alive in 1940 on Goat Islands, off the coast of Jamaica, before being rediscovered in 1990. Only the most isolated parts of the Hellshire Hills, where the forest is still in good shape, are home to Jamaican iguanas.

What is a Jamaican iguana's habitat?

Jamaican iguanas (Cyclura collei) were once present all over Jamaica and on the offshore islets Great Goat Islands and Little Goat Islands but are now restricted to the Hellshire Hills' forests, the world's most endangered habitats.

Who do Jamaican iguanas live with?

No data is available to prove if these almost extinct species are solitary animals or live in groups.

Few studies suggest that while iguanas can be kept in pairs, they are usually solitary animals that thrive independently. It also depends on various factors, including sex, age, species, habitat preferences, and personalities. It is not recommended that two male iguanas be held together or even see each other.

How long does a Jamaican iguana live?

The exact lifespan of Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei) is unknown due to their low population in Hellshire hills. However, other iguana species, both in captivity and in the wild, have been known to live for 20 years or longer.

How do they reproduce?

Female Jamaican iguanas begin digging burrows after mating to assess soil composition. Nests are dug in loose soil burrows. They lay up to 20 eggs in these loose soil burrows and then cover them with sand and dirt. In the middle of June, eggs are laid, and 85 to 87 days later, the chicks hatch and claw their way to the surface. The female body size and the frequency of rainfall extremes are both important factors in hatching success. In the wild, there are only three known communal nesting sites.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of Jamaican iguana(Cyclura collei) is Critically Endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Iguana numbers in the wild population are rapidly declining due to habitat loss and predators. Their habitat is threatened by the destruction of the Hellshire hills dry limestone forest for charcoal production and land clearing.

Mongooses, wild pigs, and stray cats and dogs are among the other predators that attack them, their young, and their nests.

A group of twelve zoos from around the United States donated and built a Headstart Facility at Hope Zoo, which is used to rear eggs and hatchlings brought in from the wild. The Jamaican Iguana Recovery Group (JIRG) also works on captive head-starting and release; the group continues to survey the Hellshire Hills as a whole and tracks individuals in the core area near established nesting sites.

Jamaican Iguana Fun Facts

What do Jamaican iguanas look like?

Jamaican iguana species is vulnerable to attack by dogs, cats, and mongoose.

The Jamaican iguana species has dark, olive-brown markings and varies in color from dark grey to green-blue. After digging in the coarse ferric soils of the Hellshire Hills area, wild individuals, especially nesting females, often appear a deep reddish-brown. Because of their coloring, they can blend in with their surroundings. They dig with sharp claws and protect themselves with them.

How cute are they?

Reptiles are probably near the bottom of your list when it comes to cute creatures. However, they can be pretty cute, even though they're scaly and scary, especially the hatchlings.

How do they communicate?

Not much data is available on the means of communication of the Jamaican rock iguana species. However, other iguana species are known to interact with each other by bobbing their heads and moving the dewlap, a flap of skin under their necks, even though they don't speak. In addition, iguanas will extend their dewlaps to greet one another or to show that they are territorial.

How big is a Jamaican iguana?

In Jamaican iguanas, there is sexual dimorphism, with males being longer than females. Male Jamaican iguanas can grow up to 16.9 in (43 cm) in length, while females can grow up to 14.8 in (37.5 cm). The once extinct Jamaican iguana is the country's largest native species. The green iguana 5-7 ft (152.4-213.3 cm) is the largest of the iguanas, while the spiny-tailed iguana is the smallest 4.9-39 in (12.4-99.06 cm).

How fast can a Jamaican iguana move?

Although the Jamaican rock iguana is regarded as a global success story in conservation science, there is no data available on the speed of this species owing to low numbers. However, other iguanas are noted for their agility, with some species reaching speeds of up to 21 mph (33.7 kph).

How much does a Jamaican iguana weigh?

Considering their low population, no proper data is available on this species. However, according to a study of 14 Jamaican rock iguanas aged 5 to 16 years, they weighed between 1.9 - 7.6 lb (0.86-3.4 kg) on average.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male Jamaican iguana is called a male Jamaican iguana, and a female is named a female Jamaican iguana.

What would you call a baby Jamaican iguana?

The baby of the Jamaican iguana is called a hatchling. The hatchling iguanas are said to weigh between 0.7 oz-1.16 0z (19.8-32.8 g).

What do they eat?

Jamaican iguanas can climb trees and eat leaves, fruit, and flowers thanks to their long toes and sharp claws. Plants make up most of their diets, but when available, the reptiles can consume snails, insects, and other small animals.

Are they poisonous?

Usually, iguana's venom glands have atrophied, producing a thin, harmless venom, and people are bitten by iguanas, but only in self-defense.

Would they make a good pet?

Jamaican iguanas are critically endangered, and there is not much data available if these can be kept as pets. Hope Zoo and Jamaican iguana recovery groups are working on conserving these iguanas to increase their population.

Did you know...

Iguanas are effective seed dispersers for many native plant species, so their conservation is essential for ecosystem health.

Anoles are the most researched lizard species in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Why do they only live in Jamaica?

From the past, these iguanas used to have a much wider range on Jamaica's southern coasts but now are found only in the most isolated parts of the Hellshire Hills. Most of the Hellshire Hills is made up of rugged limestone outcroppings, with coarse red ferric soil settling in crevices and depressions, and perhaps this may be the reason for them to be found in Jamaica.

Why are Jamaican iguanas endangered?

Jamaican iguanas are one of the critically endangered species on the planet. Extreme habitat loss due to human growth and invasive species and harvesting for human use are among the threats they face. Habitat disruption is also a challenge to the Jamaican iguana.

The Indian mongoose is and was one of the most serious threats to the Jamaican iguana. In the early 1870s, the mongoose was introduced to the island as a way for farmers to manage rat colonies in their fields. After a small population of Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei) was discovered in 1990, Hope Zoo in Jamaica has been captive breeding and running a head-starting program, with plans to reintroduce iguanas to the Goat Islands, which are part of their traditional territory. Individuals are monitored by the Jamaican Iguana Recovery Group (JIRC), which has shown that predator management in the region has increased the number of wild-born Jamaican iguanas.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including worm snake facts and king cobra facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Jamaican iguana coloring pages.

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