Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana

While visiting the Mayan ruins in Comalcalco, Mexico, in the State of Tabasco, we encountered lots of iguanas sunning themselves on the ruins and hiding in nearby holes in the ground and holes and crevices in the ruins. The temperature was in the high 90s, as was the humidity. 
Judy found this big guy at the edge of some ruins and he scampered in his hole as I got near. 
We saw him again later, basking on a rock, then he scampered into the hole again as I approached. 
I found this young female scampering along in the grass near me. 
I have not determined the species with certainty, but I believe we were seeing the black spiny-tailed iguana which is found in Central America from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to Nicaragua and Panama. 
I got pictures of this big guy from various angles, basking on the ruins. Note how much more tan he is. 

The same iguana taken later from the other side. 
The name comes from black keeled scales on their long tails. Males can grow to four feet, three inches in length, and females are shorter, growing as long as three feet three inches. They have a crest of spines that extend down the center of their backs, with males having a more developed crest and dewlap. Color varies extremely, but adults usually are whitish gray or tan with 4 to 12 dark dorsal bands. While basking, the color can lighten with yellowish and orange markings on the sides. During mating season males turn orange around the head and throat with highlights of blue and peach on the jowls. 
This youngster emerged from a hole just under the trail we were walking on. 
This adult extended its head out of a hole, then pulled in as we approached. 
This adult female was on a fountain near the parking lot. 


  1. Could the iguana in your third to the last picture be a different type? His spines look so different. Maybe he just didn't comb his hair that morning.

    1. I think its spines are similar to the other male iguanas shown earlier in the post.