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Rhinoceros Iguana ( Cyclura cornuta )
Found: West Indies

Habitat: Dry bushland, cactus thicket

Status: Not endangered

Size: Up to 1.5 m

Food in wild: Plant matter, eggs, insects, birds and mammals

No of Young: 12 eggs/clutch

Incubation: 100-120 days

Lifespan: 30-40 years

The name comes from the horn-like scales on the nose, often visible only on males. Mainly a ground lizard, males are territorial using visual and auditory defence signals. Isolated groups threatened by competition from domestic animals and hunting.

The Rhinoceros Iguana owes its name to its horns; it also has a dewlap and long crest like all the iguanas. The males are territorial, and defend their claims by ritual head bobbing. The dewlap and crest increase the iguana's apparent size, and probably increase the chance of winning territorial disputes. Iguanas are good climbers and swimmers, with long legs and claws. The long tails (good for balance) are loseable in emergency by autonomy (" self-breaking "), a safety device found in many kinds of lizard.

Rhinoceros iguanas were hatched in 1986 from eggs laid by a pair sent from Adelaide Zoo to London Zoo. Six were hatched and sent in twos, to three other zoos to " share the load " of hand-rearing. Now they are full grown!

Once again, the " protocol perfected with this hardy and not so rare species can be immediately utilised in the propagation of other much more vulnerable ground iguanas if and when necessary.

We no longer keep rhinoceros iguanas, but have plenty of green iguanas. We supplied 2 rhino iguanas to Jersey Zoo in 1978, and these became the first to breed successfully in a zoo cage (as opposed to outside in ungulate paddocks in tropical zoos). Jersey found they needed a very high light intensity in a large cage and used a floodlight to create this.