Male vs Female Iguana

Have you ever looked at an iguana and wondered if it was a male or female? If so, you are certainly not alone. Many people do not know what to look for to tell males and females apart.

Believe it or not, differentiating a male iguana from a female is not as difficult as you might believe. We are here to discuss the differences and help you easily distinguish males and females.

Male vs Female Iguana

What Are the Main Physical Differences Between Male and Female Iguanas?

Thankfully, there are some key differences between males and females that allow you to easily tell them apart. Pay attention to the following distinctions.

  • Males typically weigh much more than females. An adult male will typically weigh around 8.8 pounds, while females weigh around two pounds less.
  • Males have very pronounced dewlaps, while females’ are understated or not even there. The dewlaps are the large flaps of skin under the necks of iguanas. These flaps help keep these reptiles warm.
  • Male iguanas have large femoral pores, and females do not have these pores. These pores are on the underside of the thighs, in close proximity to the anus.
  • Male iguanas have hemipenal bulges at the base of the tail, and female iguanas do not have these bulges.
  • Female iguanas lay eggs, even when they do not mate. Males do not lay eggs.
  • The dorsal and vertebral spikes on the male iguana are much larger and more pronounced than on the female.
male and female iguanas

Are There Behavioral Differences Between Male and Female Iguanas?

Now that you know some of the key physical differences between male and female iguanas, you are likely wondering about the behavioral differences. Does one act differently than the other?

There are some behavioral differences between the two iguanas. Most of these behavioral differences are only noticeable during mating season, though they can appear at other times.

During mating season, male iguanas are prone to becoming more aggressive. Some males may even display behaviors like biting and attacking. Interestingly, some males turn orange during mating season.

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During mating season, females will sometimes stop eating or may only eat small amounts. Female iguanas will also display digging behaviors as they attempt to start the nesting process.

small iguana on a tree stump

When Is Iguana Mating Season?

For green iguanas, the mating season runs from October through November. Females will lay eggs during this time, even if they are not mating and there is no male around.

In the wild, female iguanas will lay between 14 to 75 eggs. Females lay their eggs on riverbanks and sandy beaches.

When a female goes to lay her eggs, she will dig 80-foot tunnels in the sand that are interconnected.

male and female iguanas

Differences in Male and Female Iguana Care

While the care for females and males is fairly similar, there are a couple of differences you will need to keep in mind.

Because of their larger size, male iguanas are going to need a larger and more substantial cage that can handle their weight.

Iguanas reach their full maturity around the age of three. Males, especially, can reach lengths of up to seven feet long. You will need to plan on having an enclosure that is twelve feet long by six feet high.

Pregnant iguanas need plenty of space for exercise and for nesting. The humidity levels inside the cage need to remain between 75% to 92%. You will need to mist the cage daily.

Make sure to disinfect the cage at least once a week. The temperature inside the cage needs to stay between 94 to 96 during pregnancy.

Sneezing is normal among healthy iguanas. These reptiles sneeze to remove excess salt from their bodies.

It takes between 90 to 120 days for iguana babies to be born after the female lays her eggs. In the wild, she will only come to check on the nest a few times but will not guard her eggs.

Because of her close proximity, a female in captivity is more likely to check her eggs. Once born, baby iguanas eat an herbaceous diet just like their parents.

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iguana in a cage

How Long Do Iguanas Live?

When considering adopting an iguana into your home, there is so much more you need to know besides the differences between males and females. You should also know how long these reptiles live.

Iguanas live much longer in captivity than in the wild. In the wild, these reptiles only live about ten years. In captivity, iguanas can live as long as 19 years.

Before adopting an iguana as a baby, you need to realize these creatures require a lifetime commitment.

Many people do not realize what commitment is required when adopting an iguana. Often, people do not acknowledge how large these reptiles become.

A person sees a cute little green lizard and falls in love, not realizing these reptiles change dramatically over the course of the first three years.

Being prepared is one of the most important things people can do before adopting a male or female iguana.

female iguana on white background

Iguanas Are Beautifully Inquisitive

Iguanas are beautiful reptiles that each have their own personalities. Some iguanas are more personable than others, but you must know they are all difficult to train.

One of the important things you need to know when caring for an iguana is to never grab them by the tail. When these reptiles feel threatened, they will let go of their tails. Although iguanas can regrow their tails, they will never grow as long or beautiful.

Caring for an iguana takes a concerted effort. If you do not have the patience and time to devote to caring for an iguana, there are far easier reptiles to adopt.

Now that you know the differences between male and female iguanas, you will find it much easier to tell them apart. These beautiful reptiles grow massively large and become family members for up to 19 years.

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