Wild iguana comes running for red peppers
Cayman Islands were originally named after the sea turtles that inhabited the area but the name was later changed to Cayman Islands due to the presence of large lizards that dominated the landscape. Early explorers were actually seeing iguanas but they mistook them for caymans, a member of the alligator family. The native iguanas are large burrowing lizards that grow to an impressive three feet in length. With large claws and formidable teeth, a full grown iguana does not have many predators. They are omnivores, eating mainly vegetables, but they will happily eat birds, rodents, insects and even other lizards if the opportunity presents itself.
These iguanas have become accustomed to humans because they reside near a research station and have been handled frequently in the course of studies and research that will ultimately assist in conservation and protection of the species. They have learned that humans will not harm them and can occasionally be a source of food. This giant beast comes running when he sees brightly colored red pepper slices in a bag. Attracted to brightly colored fruits and vegetables, he knows what the man has is likely delicious. Unless provoked, these lizards are gentle and have no reason to bite or attack people. If he is picked up however, he will turn into a savage bundle of claws and teeth and he will thrash and whip his powerful tail at any threat. Rows of pointed scales make his tail an effective weapon and it is enough to deter most animals.
This lizard has been tagged with colored beads through the loose skin on his neck. The combination of the color and location of the beads can be used to identify him from a distance when researchers gather data about their mating and feeding habits. This information is crucial to protecting their habitat and predicting the effect of development on their populations.