The Galapagos Land Iguana is one of three native species in the archipelago. Recognisable by their large size and yellow skin they have quite a fearsome appearance, sporting large claws and powerful legs. However they are mainly herbivores, and their favourite food is the fruit and leaves of the prickly pear cacti that grow in the more arid parts of the islands.
The Galapagos Land Iguana can grow over 3 feet in length and weigh over 30 pounds, and they can live for up to 50 years in the wild. You can often see finches perched on an iguana’s back - the iguanas allow the birds to remove ticks and other pests from between their scales.
Despite their size, the Galapagos Land Iguana is officially listed as “vulnerable”. Their population has severely declined since the time of Darwin’s visit to the islands. The chief culprits are introduced species such as cats, dogs, pigs and rats. Indeed in 1976 the entire population on Santa Cruz island was wiped out in less than 6 months by wild dogs. The National Park is working hard to remove invasive species and protect natural habitats favored by the Galapagos Land Iguana, and captive breeding programs on Santa Cruz are actively building new populations.
Many of our Galapatours cruises feature extensive land excursions that will allow you to explore the islands where Galapagos Land Iguana’s can be found. Our expert naturalist guides will use their knowledge to really bring these fascinating creatures to life. If you are keen to see the Galapagos Land Iguana then speak to one of our Galapagos experts who can advise you on the best itineraries to maximise your chances of encountering this remarkable creature.
Fast Facts about the Galapagos Land Iguana
- Many people think Galapagos Land Iguana's resemble the mythical dragons of fairy tales!
- Despite being cold blooded, Galapagos Land Iguanas often hide in the shade to avoid the midday heat
- To conserve body heat at night, Galapagos Land Iguanas sleep in burrows they dig underground
- Land Iguanas move slowly and deliberately - an adaptation that allows them to preserve body heat