Ctenosaura bakeri

Útila Spiny-tailed Iguana


Range: Útila Island, Honduras
Population: Unknown, estimated less than 7,500
Size: Up to 15.75 inches in length from snout to vent, 33.5 inches total
Threats: Habitat destruction for private and commercial development; hunting for food (particularly gravid females); predation by dogs, cats, raccoons, and rats.

The Utila Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura bakeri) is a Critically Endangered species endemic to the small 16sq mile Honduran island of Utila. The total population size is estimated at only 5000 individuals and is dwindling. The species is heavily reliant on mangrove ecosystems and spend the majority of their lives in the swampy forest giving them the island nickname of the “Swamper”. This unique, Critically Endangered species is under threat from extinction from 3 main factors, invasive species, habitat destruction and illegal poaching. The Swampers exist solely in just 2.5sq miles of mangrove forest. Just one protected area exists on Utila, encompassing a total of 3.8sq miles, and contains 24% of the Swampers total habitat. The International Iguana Foundation’s 2021 End of Year campaign will aid on the ground NGOs conservation efforts with the Swamper with a focus at preserving the protected area, Turtle Harbour Wildlife Refuge for the Swamper. This includes raising funds for a boat for the NGOs to access the protected area easily, supporting reforestation of the mangrove forest, release of head-started iguanas, population surveys and control of illegal poaching and invasive species within the protected area. Please join  our campaign to raise $40,000 to #SaveTheSwamper from extinction.

Thanks to a generous donor all donations will be matched $1:$1 up to $20,000 making your donation count double!

Species Information

  • Ctenosaura bakeri (Útila Spiny-tailed Iguana), or “Swamper” as it is known locally, is endemic to the island of Útila, which is located in the Bay Island archipelago off the Caribbean coast of Honduras.
  • These iguanas are primarily a mangrove dwelling species, however they are also found in coastal vegetated areas and use beaches for nesting.
  • The population under threat due to habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal hunting of adults and eggs, and predation by invasive species such as raccoons. Habitat destruction has also been shown to contribute to declining body condition of iguanas in the population.
  • The species is protected under Honduran national law; however, enforcement is rare and poaching is a regular occurrence even within the national park area (Turtle Harbour Wildlife refuge).
  • Conservation measures include environmental education, community outreach, and creation of alternative livelihoods to poaching, future goals include purchasing an area of mangrove forest to create a private nature reserve to protect the species and it’s habitat.

IIF Grants Received

2019 Grant $4080

“Save the Swamper” Conservation outreach and population monitoring of Útila Spiny-tailed iguanas

Daisy Maryon


2018 Grant $11,495

“Save the Swamper”, Conservation Outreach and Population Monitoring of Útila Spiny-tailed Iguanas (Ctenosaura bakeri), Honduras

Daisy Maryon


2017 Grant $11,000

Conservation Approaches, Population Monitoring and Nesting Ecology of the Critically Endangered Útila Spiny-tailed Iguana Ctenosaura bakeri on the Island of Útila, Honduras

Daisy Maryon


2016 Grant $9,970

Population, Hybridization, and Nesting Ecology of the Critically Endangered Útila Spiny-tailed Iguana, Ctenosaura bakeri, on the Island of Útila, Honduras

Daisy Maryon


2015 Grant $11,555

A Study of the Reproductive and Dispersal Behavior of the Critically Endangered Útila Spiny-tailed Iguana, Ctenosaura bakeri, on the Island of Útila, Honduras

Daisy Maryon and David Lee