Black Spiny Tailed Iguana

13/04/2021 Off By Andy Ptyushkin

Ctenosaura similis, commonly known as the Black Spiny Tailed Iguana, Black Iguana, or Black Ctenosaur, is a lizard native to Mexico, Central America, and Colombia that has been introduced to the United States in the state of Florida. It is the largest species in the genus Ctenosaura and has been recorded as the fastest-running species of lizard.

Black Spiny Tailed Iguana have distinctive black, keeled scales on their long tails, which gives them their common name. They, along with Ctenosaura pectinata, are the largest members of the genus Ctenosaura. The males are capable of growing up to 1.3 meters (4 ft 3 in) in length and the females are slightly shorter, at 0.8 – 1 meter (2 ft 7 in – 3 ft 3 in). They have a crest of long spines which extends down the centre of the back. Although colouration varies extremely among individuals of the same population, adults usually have a whitish-grey or tan ground colour with a series of 4 – 12 well-defined dark dorsal bands that extend nearly to the ventral scales. Males also develop an orange colour around the head and throat during breeding season with highlights of blue and peach on their jowls.

Tulum (Mexico)

Tulum (Mexico)

Black Spiny Tailed Iguanas are excellent climbers and prefer a rocky habitat with plenty of crevices to hide in, rocks to bask on, and nearby trees to climb. They are diurnal and fast-moving, employing their speed to escape predators but will lash with their tails and bite if cornered. The Guinness Book of World Records lists this as the world’s fastest lizard, with a maximal sprint speed of 34.6 km/h.

They are primarily herbivorous, eating flowers, leaves, stems, and fruit, but they will opportunistically eat smaller animals, eggs and arthropods. Juveniles tend to be insectivores, becoming more herbivorous as they get older.