IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

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Male Lesser Antillean iguanas form a dominance hierarchy, with the most dominant individual easily discernible by his dark grey colouration. This powerful status, which allows the easiest access to females, is achieved through displays that involve side-walking followed by head-to-head pushing contests with arched tails. Fighting between males is rare, but can be fierce. Each dominant male actively defends a small territory containing between one and seven females during the reproductive period, deterring other males from interfering by bobbing the head up and down. Reproduction is synchronised to the fresh plant growth of the wet season to ensure hatchlings begin life with plenty of food. Females may migrate to warm and sandy nest sites up to 900 metres from their home range, where they will lay between 8 and 18 eggs in a one metre long, excavated tunnel, ending in a chamber large enough for the female to turn around. The eggs are incubated by the heat of the sun for three months, after which time the hatchlings emerge and disperse into the surrounding vegetation. Young iguanas live mainly on the ground, in areas with thick vegetation offering protection, basking sites and food. With age, the Lesser Antillean iguana spends time higher up in the trees. Sexual maturity is reached at around three years, but males will not breed until they can achieve dominance. Lesser Antillean iguanas live for up to 15 years (2). Feeding mainly in the morning, this iguana consumes leaves, flowers and fruits, and may eat plants toxic to other species. They will feed on proportionally more fruit in the wet season as it becomes more abundant, but will also eat meat when possible. The eggs of the Lesser Antillean iguana are eaten by snakes, birds, opossums and lizards, but adults are free from the risk of predation, except by humans (2).


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Source: ARKive

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