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Land Iguana

The Galapagos land iguana has evolved to thrive in the desertous climes of the archipelago. This 30 pound herbivorous lizard makes up for the lack of fresh water by feeding on the plants that horde it so well: succulents and cacti. Those lucky enough to watch the land iguana feeding on a cacti will appreciate the patient, clever tactics it employs to avoid the spiny thorns. Land iguana are known to knock the plants around on the ground until friction tears the spines away. After eating the succulents and cacti, the land iguana does the plant species a favor by passing their seeds through their bodies and distributing them throughout the islands.

Most impressive is the mating ritual between adult land iguanas. From December to May, land iguanas engage in a sort of territorial tag in which they turn brown and yellow and chase one another to and fro. When they are ready to lay eggs, females do so in groups of up to 20.

The land iguana can live up to 60 years, but have taken a serious hit due to feral animals introduced to the Galapagos. These include donkeys and goats that eat up some of its food, rats that eat its eggs, and dogs that eat the iguanas themselves. The park’s initiatives to reverse this tide are underway, as they try to keep the introduced animals off the island and deport those already there.