There is certainly no shortage of iguanas in Belize, especially in San Ignacio.There’s no need to go all the way to the Belize Zoo to see these exotic creatures! Simply stroll down by the Mopan river and you’re sure to spot these large, herbivorous lizards hanging out in the trees. Native to Central, South America, and the Caribbean, green iguanas (or common iguanas) are some of the largest lizards in the Americas, with their huge tails making up nearly half of their length.
Iguanas are cold-blooded reptiles, so they lay eggs, and also are herbivores, tending to eat fruits, plants, and the occasional insects. Their main predators are large carnivores, which include humans. That’s right, iguanas and their eggs can be eaten by humans, and it is considered a delicacy in Belize food. Locally, edible iguana is known on menus as “bamboo chicken.” Anyone have an iguana recipe in mind?
Iguanas in Belize
In all seriousness, the iguana population in Belize is actually under threat. This is due to the destruction of their natural habitat, and humans hunting iguanas for their eggs and meat. Nearby Nabitunich is the iconic San Ignacio Resort Hotel, where the Green Iguana Conservation Project strives to conserve the iguanas in Belize.
The project includes two vital programs: Adopt an Iguana and the Iguana Kids Club, both of which promote the process of incubating, hatching, rearing, and releasing young iguanas back into the wild. Youth participating in the program walk away with newfound awareness and education about these large reptiles.
Visit the Green Iguana Project
Tourists are welcome to tour the Iguana Conservation Project, which is located on site at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. The hour-long tour allows for visiting the enclosed area where juvenile iguanas are raised until they are released into the wild. See and hold adult iguanas, and then venture over to let dozens of baby iguanas cling to your body! It’s a great educational experience that also makes for great photo opportunities.
Unlike some other physically intense tours such as caving and hiking, visiting the iguanas is very leisurely. It is an activity that can be enjoyed by people of every age and background.