Herp of the Day

September 2, 2020: Ctenosaura bakeri

Baker’s iguana is a medium-large lizard found exclusively in the mangrove forests of Utila.  This is one of the most aquatic iguanids, spending much of their time climbing down the roots of the mangroves they call home to feast upon vegetation near the surface of the swamp.  Unfortunately, habitat destruction has contributed heavily towards the decline of this species, resulting in their current classification as critically endangered.

C. bakeri inhabits a remarkably small range.  Within their home island, they are found in an area totaling only around three square miles.  Utila is home to two other species of iguanids– C. similis, and a natural hybrid of the two base species.  The occurrence of this hybridization is of particular note, as ecologist have theorized that the Utila iguana’s miniscule range is due in part to aggression from the larger C. similis.

Though primarily herbivorous, this iguanid is known to be opportunistically omnivorous, often accepting small animals, eggs, and fish.  C. bakeri is, however, a lackluster hunter, and any carnivorous tendencies are likely the result of scavenging.

In response to this lizard’s critically endangered status, many conservation efforts have been undertaken in their defense.  CITES restrictions have nearly eliminated their capture for the pet trade, though they are occasionally hunted by locals as a food source.  They are a high priority in captive breeding programs worldwide, both among formal organizations and private producers.

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