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Mexican Spiny-tailed Iguana

Common Name Mexican Spiny-tailed Iguana

Scientific Name Ctenosaura pectinata

Species Reptiles

Family/Group Lizards



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Mexican Spinytail Iguanas have distinctive keeled scales on their long tails, which gives them their common name. They are one of the larger members of the genus Ctenosaura, capable of growing to 140 cm in length, with females being slightly smaller than males at 100 cm, and are typically brown or grey-brown in coloration with a yellowish ventral surface. They have a crest of long spines which extend down the center of their back. Hatchlings are often a bright green color with no pattern and darken as they age.

The Mexican Spiny-tailed iguana is a social lizard, which has adapted to living in groups as opposed to other species of Ctenosaura which tend to be solitary animals.] These iguanas are excellent climbers, and prefer a rocky habitat with plenty of crevices to hide in, rocks to bask on, and nearby trees to climb. They are diurnal and fast moving, employing their speed to escape predators but will lash with their tails and bite if cornered. They are often found dwelling near or in towns in their native Mexico and where they have been introduced elsewhere.

They are primarily herbivorous, eating a variety of flowers, leaves, stems, and fruit, but they will opportunistically eat small animals, eggs, and arthropods.

Further Reading

Nicaragua Animal Guide