Iguanas 101 - Chuckwallas Iguanas

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Chuckwallas Iguanas



About Chuckwallas Iguanas

Male Chuckwallas Iguanas are larger than females and are easily distinguished from females because of the difference in their coloring. Male chuckwalla bodies can be of the following colors: reddish-orange to orange, yellow, or light gray. Their heads, shoulders, and limbs are black. Female and juvenile chuckwallas on the other hand are scattered with spots or contrasting bands that are either shades of gray or yellow. Adult males can also be distinguished by the presence of femoral pores and hemipenial bulges. The femoral pores, used by males to mark their territory, are found on inner thighs.

Chuckwallas live in the arid Mojave and Sonoran Deserts as well is in the islands off of the Baja Peninsula in the Gulf of California. They like to stay in rocky areas and lava flows.


Chuckwallas Iguanas - Feeding

Chuckwallas like Desert Iguanas are herbivores eating leaves, cactus fruit, and flowers but also eat insects to supplement their diet. They also love to eat yellow flowers but this time coming not only from creosotes but also from the brittlebush.


Chuckwallas Iguanas - Predators

Chuckwallas are not considered to be aggressive lizards. Instead of fighting back when threatened chuckwallas run for cover looking for tight crevices where they lodge their bodies in before inflating themselves for a very tight fit. When lodged this way chuckwallas are virtually impossible to dislodge. Natives, however, used to easily extract the chuckwallas from the rock crevices by simply puncturing their skin with a sharp stick thus deflating the iguanas making them easy to collect and use for food. When there are no rock crevices to hide in chuckwallas still inflate themselves supposedly to make themselves look larger thus discouraging their would be predators.


Chuckwallas Iguanas - Species

The five species of chuckwallas are the Common Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater formerly Sauromalus obesus), Angel Island Chuckwalla (Sauromalus hispidus), San Esteban Island Chuckwalla (Sauromalus varius), Santa Catalina Island Chuckwalla (Sauromalus klauberi), Montserrat Island Chuckwalla (Sauromalus slevini).

As the name implies the Common chuckwalla is the most common of the chuckwallas. They are generally pale tan to yellow in color with gray or black splotches all over its body. Their faces are also of gray or black color. The Common Chuckwalla is the only chuckwalla species to inhabit the southwestern deserts.

Other chuckwalla species, as their name also shows, all live in islands found in the Gulf of California.

The Angel Island Chuckwalla is usually called the Spiny Chuckwalla due to the spiny appearance of its skin. The Angel Island Chuckwalla looks rather drab with an overall color of dark gray, brown, or black. The Angel Island Chuckwalla however has an impressive size with some of them growing up to 24 inches (60cm) in length. Angel Island Chuckwallas though large are the tamest and most approachable chuckwallas there is making them a favorite choice as pet iguana.

The Santa Catalina Island Chuckwalla also known as the spotted chuckwalla is quite the opposite of the spiny chuckwalla being the smallest chuckwalla species growing up to a maximum length of only 15 inches (38 cm). They are also quite hard to approach being not only hard to find but also having a quick flight response when approached.

The two remaining chuckwalla species are considered to be endangered species.

The San Esteban Island Chuckwalla, also known as the Painted or Piebald Chuckwalla, has been on the endangered species list since 1988. They are the largest of the chuckwallas, even larger than spiny chuckwallas.

The Montserrat Island Chuckwalla, also known as Slevinís Chuckwalla, is not only rare but also has had only few research done on it.




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