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Spiny-tailed Iguana

Ctenosaura similis

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Great Southwest

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Known as the world's fastest lizards, black spiny-tailed iguanas can sprint up to 21 mph to escape predators. Their long tails have rings of sharp, curved spines, as their name suggests. If cornered, they will lash out with their tails and bite to defend themselves. These large iguanas live in colonies ruled by a dominant male. Territorial displays involve color changes, jaw-gaping, push-ups and rapid head bobbing. When young, spiny-tailed iguanas are bright green in color and eat mostly insects. As they age, their scales darken and their diet becomes more herbivorous. Adults will also eat small birds, mammals, and other reptiles. These iguanas prefer open areas with rocky outcrops which provide basking spots and crevices for hiding. Although mostly ground-dwelling, they are excellent climbers and can sometimes be found in trees. Males can reach about four feet in length, with females being slightly shorter.

Our Animal's Story

Our spiny-tailed iguana is a male and arrived at ZooAmerica in May 2022. There are many different spiny-tailed iguana species. Ours is a black spiny-tailed iguana, Ctenosaura similis.

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