One of the largest of the Iguanas, mature Rhinoceros Iguanas can be anywhere from two to four feet in length. They get their name from three horn-like outgrowths on the end of their nose. They are a dusky gray or olive green in color, with barely visible dark cross bands, which allows them to blend in with the rock and scrub brush of their natural habitat.
Like other cold-blooded reptiles, these Iguanas must bask in the sun to warm themselves before becoming active during the day (diurnal.) Iguanas of the Cyclura genus are found on many Caribbean islands, however the Rhinoceros Iguana is only found on the island of Hispaniola in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Rhinoceros Iguanas eat leaves, flowers and fruit. Although mainly herbivorous, they have been observed to eat insects, land crabs, eggs and carrion (mostly dead birds and fish.) They are mostly a ground dwelling lizard, but they will occasionally climb trees to reach fresh fruit.
The island of Hispaniola has the only native populations of Rhinoceros Iguanas, although many exist in captivity. They are primarily found near coastlines; however, many have been forced to relocate inland due to human expansion. The majority of the populations live in the southern portions of the Dominican Republic, although smaller populations live in neighboring Haiti. They are protected and a threatened species in the Dominican Republic, but conditions are worse in poverty-stricken Haiti, where they are often hunted for food or local trade.
Habitat destruction and hunting for food and trade constitutes the largest threat to the Rhinoceros Iguana. Feral dogs, cats, mongoose and pigs are also serious threats.
Males, and occasionally females, are very territorial and will attempt to intimidate other males with body gyrations and head movement. Similar behavior is exhibited to attract females or to frighten predators.
Birth & Offspring
Adult Iguanas reach sexual maturity in five to nine years. The breeding season lasts around two weeks in April and is apparently triggered by the onset on the rainy season. The female lays between five and twenty eggs in a burrow around 40 days after mating. The eggs hatch 162 to 187 days later. Infant Rhinoceros Iguanas are around seven inches long and very active.
As with most Iguanas, Rhinoceros Iguanas have good hearing, smell and excellent eyesight.
Lydia King is a huge animal lover and has always been fascinated with learning about the animal kingdom. She enjoys writing about anything animal related from scientific information about rare species to animal references in pop culture.