Bahamian Rock Iguana

Bahamian Rock Iguana


There are three species and seven subspecies:
Bartsch’s Iguana (Cyclura carinata bartschi)
Allen’s Cay Iguana (Cyclura cychlura inornata)
Exuma Cay Iguana (Cyclura cychlura figginsi)
Andros Iguana (Cyclura cychlura cychlura)
Acklin’s Iguana (Cyclura rileyi nuclalis)
San Salvador Iguana (Cyclura rileyi rileyi)
White Cay Iguana (Cyclura rileyi cristata)


Rock iguanas are large lizards, Bahamian iguanas are usually some shade of brown.Most are two and a half to three feet long.


Young iguanas eat mostly plants and insects, Later in life, they become almost completeherbivores (plant eaters), feeding on leaves, fruits and fl owers of a large variety of plantsincluding some like manchineel that are toxic or noxious to humans. It is probably notnecessary for them to drink, particularly if the plants on which they feed are succulent.Wild dilly (Manilkara bahamensis), black torch (Erithalis fruticosa), darling plum (Reynosia septentrionalis), and blolly (Guapira obtusa) are eaten by Rock iguanas.


Sexual maturity occurs when Rock iguanas are about six to nine years old, Breedingtakes place in early spring. At this time mature males are more brightly colored than atany other time. Around the middle of June, females lay three to twelve white leatheryeggs, usually in shallow burrows in the sand. In approximately three months the younghatch and dig their way to the surface.


Rock iguanas thrive in dry areas where there are sandy patches for breeding and limestone that provides the Rock iguana with holes to retreat in and shade to regulate body temperature.


All Rock iguanas in The Bahamas are protected by the Wild Animals (protection) Act. At present, TheInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists all Bahamian populations of Rock iguanasas “rare”. The Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list the Rock iguana inAppendix 1 meaning the species is near extinction or very endangered. All international trade is prohibitedamong CITES signatory nations. Subspecies of Rock iguanas are found on Andros, San Salvador, Acklins,Mayaguana and in the Exuma Cays.


On Andros wild hogs, feral cats and dogs are severe threats to iguanas there. All other Bahamian Rock iguanasare restricted to small, isolated islands where these animals do not pose a threat. Even so, there remains thecontinuous threat to all populations of iguanas of being harvested by man for food and for the pet trade,and a potential threat of falling prey to introduced predators, like dogs and feral cats. In addition naturaldisasters, such as hurricanes are a constant threat.


  • Rock iguanas used to be eaten by early inhabitants of The Bahamas. Today it is illegal toharm or capture a Rock iguana.
  • The Andros Rock iguana is the largest iguana in The Bahamas and can attain a length ofnearly fi ve to six feet.
  • The most threatened Bahamian iguanas are the San Salvador iguanas.
  • The serrated ridge along the spine of the Rock iguana radiates excess heat from theiguana’s body. In territorial displays this ridge makes the iguana appear larger to its adversaries.
  • Iguanas are equipped with breakable tails which cleave off neatly when seized by a hand or a predator.A new tail begins to regenerate immediately.
  • Rock iguanas can live for up to forty years!


Effects of ecotourism on endangered northern Bahamian Rock Iguanas (Cyclura cyclura)
– Hines, K. 2011. Herpetological Conservation and Biology Vol 6, No. 2:250–259

The status and distribution of Cyclura r. rileyi
– Gicca, D. 1980. Caribbean Journal of Science. Vol. 16 :l-4