Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Desert Iguana

Typically, when I think of iguanas, I think of the giant, green South American Iguana or the lava rock colored, Ocean loving, Galapagos Iguana.  Thus, I was a bit surprised to spot this stealthy little Desert Iguana flitting across the landscape to dive into a hole in the sand.  Of course, once you really scan the area, it becomes apparent that the area is just littered with holes in the cliffs and in the sandy soil and that "SOMETHING" is probably living in those holes, likely just waiting until the heat of the sun has passed to come out and browse.  Some of those holes are rather large, being perhaps eight inches across or larger!  At least one of those holes, likely belonged to a large (16"?) Chuckwala lizard that we spotted on a previous trip!  In any case, here's the iguana!

Desert Iguana, Dipsosaurus dorsalis, in Hellhole Canyon, Anza Borrego.  These lizards are very heat tolerant and will come out even in mid-day, even on the hottest of days (it was probably in the high nineties when we spotted him)!  They are omnivores, generally subsisting on the leaves and flowers of the creosote bush, but also eating insects, carrion and fecal pellets (to establish gut flora).  They are found in desert terrain in Southeast California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Baja.  Of some interest, this lizard runs with his tail up, like the dinosaurs were supposed to!  I don't know if that is because the ground is really hot so he's minimizing contact, or if it just makes him a whole lot faster (and he was indeed speedy)!

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