Was “Jabba The Hutt” created from imagery based as a really over-weight fat Iguana? Hmmm, there does seem to be a striking resemblance.
However in reality, we really do have some Iguana Monsters here on Marco Island – Not many but they are out there. Of the 78 Marco Island Iguanas I have removed this year, THREE were FIVE FEET or longer. SIX were over FOUR feet long. That’s 11.5%, those removed are big-big boys for sure.
They have big everything – Big heads, big bodies, big legs, big tails and really big claws! They can really do some serious digging damage with those talons. This is one of the reasons you do NOT want your dog to go Mano a Mano with one of these large male Iguanas. They also use their tails to whip in a fight.
How do you tell the Boys from the Girls . . . ? To start with, bigger is just badder. The really large Iguanas are almost all males. As an apex lizard, they don’t carry the same equipment as mammals, so a peek under the hood does not work. So here are a couple of clues to help your identification.
- Males have more pronounced and longer spikes from head to tail. Think Punk-Rocker and you will get this one every time. Also just behind the eye but on top of the head, either side of the spine, males will have two bumps which are fatty deposits that females don’t have.
- Males are typically more colorful – Reds, Orange, Blacks, Browns, Blues and Green stripes. If you want to stand out, dress to impress. It must work, as the top males will have a harem of 6 to 12 females that will be his crew. Each female lays 20-70 eggs per year. FYI – A group of Iguanas is called a Mess – With this many babies, it will be a mess.
- Males have a large Dewlap under the chin and on the throat. Some even have small spikes on them. It is said that girl Iguanas dig the big dewlaps. Size matters for Dewlap dominance.
- Males have a larger circle or node on the lower jaw on each side that is called the subtympanic shield or helmet scale. It has no function, except decorative and makes them look meaner. It is almost eye like, so it can help deter attacks.
- Last – and hard to see from afar, on the bottom of EACH hind leg, males will have a row of bumps that look like little whitish zits – those are Femoral Pores and only males have them. Note to yourself . . . To see the femoral pores, you have to pick up and turn over the Iguanas to observe these pores from underneath. 9 out of 10 Iguanas don’t like you to do this, so be aware the live ones are going to be a bit spunky!
Remember, these are an invasive species, they are highly disruptive to our ecosystem. Other than me, they have very few natural enemies in Florida. If you have an Iguana problem, when you see it, call me on my Iguana line at 239-344-7706, typically I am 5 to 15 minutes away on Marco Island. Down Goes Iguana.