"Land Iguanas" Islas Plazas Things to Do Tip by MalenaN
Islas Plazas Things to Do: 10 reviews and 50 photos
Land Iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus) are endemic to the Galapagos Islands and they can be seen on several of the islands. For visitors it is easiest to see them on Isla Santa Cruz (at Cerro Dragon), on South Plaza and on North Seymour. I visited Cerro Dragon and South Plaza and saw several Land Iguanas at both places. The Land Iguanas on Isla Santa Fe are a separate species.
It is not known how the Land Iguanas came to the Galapagos Islands, but probably by floating with vegetation from the South American coast. It is believed that they arrived after the Marine Iguanas though, as the Marine Iguanas had to adapt to feeding in the sea and shore line, so when the Land Iguanas arrived there should have been more vegetation that they could survive on.
Land Iguanas have a yellowish-orange colour with a dark brown or grey back. During breeding season some males get a red colour to attract females. They have got spines on the back and head and they have a more pointed nose than the Marine Iguanas. Males will grow to a length of 1m and they can weigh up to 13kg. Females are smaller and have shorter spines. They are also less brightly coloured.
It is in the arid zones that you will find Land Iguanas. There they feed mainly on Opuntia Cactus, fallen pads (including the spines) and fruits. Most of the water they get from their food.
Males are very territorial, especially during the breeding season. The females lay the eggs in a nest under ground, where they are incubated for 45-50 days. The new born iguanas are very small and therefore preyed upon by the Galapagos Hawk, but also by introduced species. Introduced species are not only a threat to the Land Iguanas because they get eaten, but also because species likes goats eat most of the vegetation. If the Land Iguanas survive they can be as old as 50 years.
On the cruise with Cachalote we visited both South Plaza and Cerro Dragon on Isla Santa Cruz where we saw many Land Iguanas. These photos are from South Plaza. When on South Plaza I used my camera to film a Land Iguana feeding on cactus pad. While I did so another iguana came and chased the first one away. That is one of the amazing things with the Galapagos Islands, that you can experience something like that just a few meters in front of you. You can see my video here.