Galápagos land iguanas are large, yellow lizards, one of three species of land iguanas. Being cold-blooded, they absorb heat from the sun by basking on volcanic rock, and at night sleep in burrows to conserve their body heat. These iguanas also enjoy a symbiotic relationship with birds; the birds remove parasites and ticks, providing relief to the iguanas and food for the birds.
These land iguanas are native to the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador) and live in the dry lowlands of Fernandina, Isabela, Santa Cruz, North Seymour, Baltra, and South Plaza Islands.
Land iguanas are primarily herbivorous, however, some individuals may be carnivores supplementing their diet with insects, centipedes, and carrion. Because fresh water is scarce on their island habitats, Galápagos land iguanas obtain the majority of their moisture from the prickly-pear cactus, which makes up 80% of its diet. During the rainy season, they will drink from available standing pools of water and feast on yellow flowers of the genus Portulaca.
The mating season of Galápagos land iguanas varies between islands. Soon after mating, the females migrate to sandy areas to nest and they may travel up to 15 km (9 miles) to find good nesting sites. They lay 2-20 eggs in a burrow about 50 cm (20 in) deep. The eggs hatch anywhere from 90 to 125 days later. Young iguanas become reproductively mature anywhere between 8 and 15 years of age, depending on which island they are from.
The main threat to Galápagos land iguanas comes from introduced animals such as dogs, cats, goats, pigs, and rats who compete with iguanas for food and damage their nests or prey on their eggs and newly hatched young.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Galápagos land iguana is 8,618-17,917 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.