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The Green Iguana. (Iguana iguana). Can domestication save this species?. Seemingly common, the green iguana is the second most heavily traded vertebrate in world commerce. In 2009, over 2,000,000 were imported into the U.S. alone, mostly for the pet trade.

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The Green Iguana

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    1. The Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) Can domestication save this species?

    2. Seemingly common, the green iguana is the second most heavily traded vertebrate in world commerce In 2009, over 2,000,000 were imported into the U.S. alone, mostly for the pet trade Found from Mexico, throughout Central America, and into South America In actuality, green iguanas are rapidly becoming endangered. Many local populations extirpated, particularly in Central America

    3. Life History Can grow to 5’ in captivity, typically smaller in wild - arboreal and herbivorous - eat leaves, fruit, and flowers females typically nest every year, lay up to 60 eggs per clutch - often nest in communal burrows, to which they return every nesting season young hatch at the beginning of the rainy season, coincident with year’s flush of new leaf growth natural enemies include birds, carnivorous lizards, crocodiles

    4. What are the problems for green iguanas? 1) Deforestation - arboreal herbivores need forests - cutting reduces available habitat 2) Overexploitation by humans a. for the pet trade - eggs and adults taken from the wild to be sold as pets b. for food - iguana meat is highly prized, eggs are a delicacy because they often nest in groups, it is easy for a poacher to devastate a local population - unregulated take is a problem

    5. What is being done for green iguanas? Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute instituted captive breeding programs in 1984 to supplement wild populations initially collected 700 eggs - virtually all hatched survival of hatchlings very high in captivity vs. 90% mortality rate in wild hatchlings iguanas born in captivity are easily bred, unlike wild- captured adults captive breeding of iguanas very successful

    6. What is being done for green iguanas? Scientists now promoting the creation of iguana “farms” if local farmers could be persuaded to raise iguanas, the species, the farmers, and the forest would all benefit iguanas benefit - farms take pressure off wild populations forests benefit - iguanas live and feed in tropical rainforest, raising them will prevent the clearing of forests for pastureland

    7. Iguana farming farmers benefit - iguana farming is cost-effective ectotherms - thus they have lower metabolic costs than cows - more energy goes into body mass - 10x more body mass yield per area with iguanas than with cows iguanas require less food than cows, can feed in trees, thus take up less space as many as 60 iguanas can cohabit a 12 sq. yard enclosure

    8. Conclusion The domestication of the green iguana may save the species from extinction

    9. Thought Question Do you think it is good that we may be adding yet another species to the list of animals and plants that human beings have taken under our control?