Aruba, The Iguana better known locally as Yuwana

Of all the reptiles running through the hot and dry sand looking for shelter in among trees and cacti, the iguana is the most remarkable. A fully-grown male can reach a length of 2 meters including his tail. However, size does not detract from speed when the iguana senses danger.

Should an iguana sense danger, its initial reaction is to change color, then it tries to find a place where it can camouflage better and blend in with its surroundings. Often its ideal place is hiding in a tree. Still sensing trouble, it peeks gingerly with one eye to see what threat is causing it to hide. Once the iguana notices that it has been detected, the reptile has no other choice than to fall to the ground and run as fast as possible. Iguana’s are surprisingly fast – they raise their bodies off the ground with their legs, and sprint off at an impressive pace, almost seeming to be running on tiptoe.

An adult iguana’s color normally is a grayish green, while a young iguana is a bright neon green, which can become darker as soon as it feels threatened.

The iguana’s food of choice are green leaves and certain fruits and they have the ability to find the leaves with a higher nutritional content. The female iguana lays her eggs in a hole that she excavated herself.

It’s a shame that these precious animals are still being hunted today. They are mostly relished in soups. A popular notion is that iguana soup gives strength and virility. This comes from the belief that males have two penises (actually it is one split in two). Some people therefore believe that the iguana is a fountain of strength and potency. It has even been claimed that iguana soup helped a wheel-chaired man to walk again.

In 1995 a prohibition to kill iguanas was established, out of fear that the local population of these animals was being wiped out. For example, any restaurant found with iguana in their menu receives a fine of 500 to 3000 florins, and can face being shut down. This initiative has helped, and although iguanas are still sought after, it is on a lower scale.

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