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Biosphere, Fauna and Flora in Cuba Naturaleza
Cuba Naturaleza Biodiversity

Cuban Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila), one of the world's most impressive iguanas

Cuban Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila)Iguana Cubana (Cyclura nubila nubila)
Scientific name: Cyclura nubila nubila
Common name (english): Cuban Rock Iguana
Common name (spanish): Iguana Cubana

The Cuban Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila) is a large, omnivorous iguana found on the island of Cuba. Is one of the world's most impressive iguanas. It is also one of the largest, with adult males sometimes reaching lengths of 4 or 5 feet and weights of nearly 7 kilograms. This species (as well as all other members of the Cyclura) are vulnerable due to their remote island habitats. Most Cyclura iguanas are listed as threatened or endangered.

Males are larger than females, with skin color ranging from dark gray to brick red, whereas females are more olive green, and have dark stipes or bands. Limbs are black with pale brown oval spots. Young animals tend to be uniformly dark brown or green with faint darker striping or mottling in the form of five to ten diagonal traverse bands on the body. These bands blend in with the body color as the iguana ages.

The Cuban Iguana's eyes have a golden iris and red sclera giving them excellent vision, with the ability to detect shapes and motions at long distances. As these iguanas have only a few rods or photoreceptor cells they have poor vision in low-light conditions, which accounts for their diurnal activity.

The Cuban iguana is well distributed around Cuba, mainly in xerophilic coastal areas, but relatively safe populations are found only on some islets along the north and south coasts and in isolated protected areas on the mainland. These include Guanahacabibes Biosphere Reserve in the west, Desembarco del Granma National Park, Hatibonico Wildlife Refuge, Punta Negra-Quemados Ecological Reserve, and Delta del Cauto Wildlife Refuge, all in eastern Cuba (Fig. 5). This subspecies has also been introduced to Isla Magueyes, southwest of Puerto Rico. Because of its wide distribution, accurate information about the number of distinct subpopulations of Cuban iguanas is currently unavailable, yet it may be present on as many as 4,000 islets surrounding the Cuban mainland.

The Cuban iguana is a phytophagous generalist, and the diversity of its diet depends on the floristic diversity and abundance of vegetation in each locality. Cuban iguanas reach sexual maturity at an age of two to three years. Reproductive behavior in this subspecies is similar to that described for other members of the genus. Males become aggressive, and vigorously defend territories in competition for females. Females lay 15 to 30 eggs annually in a single clutch in a nest which they dig in the sand.

Cuba Naturaleza Biodiversity

© 2023 Nigel Hunt