We like to think all the iguanas in the trees around the house are descended from a pet we had. Ignatius Iguana lived in a large cage we had on the end of the porch. He was young, less than a foot long. I thought I would be able to train him, as one can do, to walk on a leash and hang out on my shoulder. One day while I was feeding him Ignatius escaped. Fast on his heels was our cat. Iguana and cat raced down the length of the 40 foot porch. Ignatius was, unafraid? unaware? that the porch is a good 12 feet above the ground and went flying off the end. He landed without injury and disappeared into the bush and trees. As for the cat, like a cartoon character, he came to a screeching halt, tail lashing back and forth in angry frustration that such a large lizard had escaped him.
Iguanas are by nature, arboreal. It seems odd that such large lizards are at home among the branches. Yet they move about with ease and grace, eating tender new leaves and flowers. They are vegetarian. If they want to go to a lower level or get to the ground, they simply fall. That’s right, they let go and fall. We often hear crashing in the trees and know that an iguana is making a controlled fall through the branches.
Although they prefer hanging out in trees iguanas are comfortable on the ground. They are surprisingly fast when they run. When an iguana gets up to full speed, it is actually running on its hind legs. It holds its front feet up just off the ground as if lifting long skirts and can book across the ground at a pretty good clip.
Except for its tail, which it can use like a whip, the large lizard is harmless. They are not too difficult to catch. And all one has to do to sooth it is turn it on its back and scratch its belly, at which point, like a frog, it becomes completely docile.
Perhaps this noble creature is descended from Ignatius.
Here’s one relaxed and asleep on an over cast morning. That’s his waddle hanging down below his right leg. And you can just see a tinge of pink in his face. This fellow, and the one above, are somewhere between four and five feet long.
Here’s a picture of an oldster moving from one branch to another.
And here's me at the beach, enticing a young one with some lettuce.