Antillean iguana


donated by Herpetofauna


Within the Dutch Caribbean, the Antillean iguana (Iguana delicatissima) is only found on St. Eustatius, an island of 21 km2. The species is under great pressure from multiple threats, including hybridization with the green iguana (Iguana iguana), habitat loss and human consumption.

There are two national parks on the island within which there are almost no iguanas. The majority of the population is therefore in an unprotected area. We are currently working hard to map out the population to ultimately estimate the total population.

They are currently in the process of initiating a "Head starting program", which involves raising very young animals in captivity. The animals are released after 1 to 2 years, which increases their chance of survival.

The greatest current threat to I. delicatissima is hybridization with the green iguana. This can mate with the Antillean iguana and this is how hybrids arise. The hybrids are fertile and can mate with both parent species and with each other. Because adult male green iguanas ALWAYS dominate over adult male Antillean iguanas, the green iguanas mate with the female Antillean iguanas. As a result, the population of Antillean iguanas will no longer be genetically pure and eventually even disappear. This has already happened on several islands and can often be attributed to human actions. It is rarely a natural process. Since February of 2016, one adult female green iguana has been caught and 4 hybrids from multiple nests have been discovered and captured. At least one hybrid is still running loose (as known from camera images) and there might be more. If we want to protect the Antillean iguana, we must catch the green & hybrid iguanas from the wild which requires a lot of fieldwork and materials.