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Anegada Iguana

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Scientific Name: Cyclura pinguis

IUCN Red List Status: Critically Endangered

Description: The Anegada Iguana is a relatively large and stout iguana.  Males have been measured at almost two feet in length from snout to vent (not including tail length).  Adults are grayish or brownish  overall with a blue color on spines, tail, and legs.  Blue tones are often more evident in males and can vary depending on the individual.  Juveniles have gray to green banding or diamond shaped patterns that fade as the animal matures.

Distribution: Although this species used to occupy islands across the entire Puerto Rico Bank, it is now restricted to the island of Anegada in the British Virgin Islands.  A small population of eight adults was introduced to Guana Island and has begun to successfully reproduce.  Three offspring from the Guana Island population have been translocated to Necker Island. 

Habitat: This species uses both limestone, which provides a natural retreat, and sandy areas adjacent to limestone in which they excavate burrows.  Female iguanas also nest in sandy areas.  Iguana habitat on Anegada has been degraded by the presence of free-ranging livestock.

Reproduction: Females lay one clutch of 12-16 eggs per year.  Although there is a relatively high rate of hatching success, very few hatchlings survive after emerging from nests due to extremely high predation from feral cats.  Recruitment into the breeding population is low and the ratio of males to females has fallen from 1:1 to 2:1,  2males:1female.  

Notes:  An ancient lineage, the Anegada Iguana is the most genetically diversee of the Cyclura (rock iguanas) and is considered basal to the other species. The native population on Anegada has undergone a serious decline since the 1960s due to pressures from domesticated animals and now occupies only a small portion of the island. Feral livestock trample nest sites and severely over-browse native vegetation that iguanas rely on for food. Feral cats kill almost all hatchlings each year, resulting in a population of predominantly aging adult iguanas. To overcome this high juvenile mortality, a headstarting program was implemented in 1997 to generate healthy young iguanas for release that are large enough to survive with feral cats. In October 2003, the first group of 24 headstarted iguanas was released on Anegada where there survival, movements and behavior are being monitored; a project funded by the IIF.

Wild population estimates in the BVI range from 200 - 300, but predation, habitat loss from development and overgrazing continue to threaten the Anegada population.

For information on how the IIF is working to save this species, please see the Projects Section.

Anegada Iguana Species Recovery Plan

Photo Supplement to the Anegada Iguana Species Recovery Plan

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