Our group in the Galapagos was hiking to the new lava flows near Sierra Negra volcano on Isabela island when our guide got really excited. He pointed just ahead on the trail, and to my astonishment, there was a huge Galapagos land iguana just sitting there, sunning itself on the rocks.
Its bright yellow and red body popped out against the black volcanic rock. Our tour group gawked and the shutters on our cameras started clicking in quick procession. The land iguana tolerated the “paparazzi” quite well, continued sunbathing for a couple minutes before slowly wandering off the trail.
Our naturalist guide told us quite a lot about the Galapagos land iguana. Here are some of the most interesting Galapagos land iguana facts:
11 Galapagos Land Iguana Facts
- Grow to 5 feet long and 25 lbs (13 Kg)!
- Lives up to 60 years
- Birds land on the iguanas and eat the parasites off their back
- Eats prickly pear cactus as its primary food
- Can eat cactus spines or even remove them by scraping with its claws
- Land iguanas sometimes interbreed with marine iguanas, resulting in hybrid iguanas
- Pink land iguanas were discovered in 1986, and live only on northern Isabela island
- Endemic to the Galapagos
- Rare – Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List
- Entire populations (such as on Santiago island) have been wiped out by introduced feral animals
- Feral cats and dogs prey on young, and feral pigs dig up and eat land iguana nests
Where to Find the Galapagos Land Iguana
Our group spotted the land iguana in the wild near the new lava flows between Sierra Negra Volcano and Volcan Chico on Isabela. It can also be found on Fernandina, Santa Cruz, North Seymour, Baltra, and South Plaza islands.
If you are not lucky enough to spot one in the wild, you can see the land iguanas at the Charles Darwin Conservation Center in Santa Cruz island.