The Early Years
A newly hatched iguana has one great fear from the moment it digs out from the nest. Snakes!
Cayman’s common native snake Alsophis cantherigerus is a very efficient predator of frogs, lizards and baby iguanas. Iguana hatchlings know to avoid them – they make straight for the trees, and disappear from sight. For the first year of their lives, we almost never see them and have very little idea of what they do. It seems that some hatchlings, at least, keep on moving and can disperse over considerable distances. Year-old iguanas have habit of turning up in areas where there has been absolutely no sign of any parents!
In captivity, Blue Iguanas start to become aggressive to each other at a very early age, usually within a month of hatching. If they are not separated into individual cages, smaller hatchlings are soon dominated by bigger ones and not allowed to feed, eventually wasting away. This suggests that in the wild, Blue Iguanas live solitary, territorial lives from the very beginning.
As they grow, they become bolder and more visible. Yearling iguanas often settle down in small territories centered on a safe retreat, still spending a fair amount of time up in bushes and trees. It is hard to tell males and females apart at this age. The adult iguanas usually ignore them, and in any case the yearlings stay out of their way, just to be safe.
At two-and-a-half years of age, the faster growing iguanas become sexually mature and may breed for the first time. As they mature they start to attract the attention of the bigger adults, and may be displaced from areas they were previously tolerated in. Some males seem to manage to disguise their maturation, and look like juveniles or females for several years after maturity. These “sneaker males” are not recognized as potential competitors by the older males, and so can avoid the annual aggression between males until they have grown large enough to be successful!