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Oaxacan spinytail iguana
- Ctenosaura quinquecarinata

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As to the nature, the Oaxacan spinytail iguana is relatively tame, eats from the hand and does not get scared when you put your hand in the terrarium
Oaxacan spinytail iguana
Oaxacan spinytail iguana (Ctenosaura quinquecarinata) Osa Peninsula Costa Rica – Benjamint444, GFDL 1.2 , via Wikimedia Commons


Origin / Distribution

The Oaxacan spinytail iguana (Ctenosaura quinquecarinata) mainly inhabits tropical and subtropical dry forests, in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua. They can also be found in secondary successional forests and in human-transformed environments, like small towns, crops, tree plantations and pastures for cattle.

Characteristics / Appearance

The tail of the Oaxacan spinytail iguana it is heavily armored with five rings of spines that form longitudinal ridges. The males of this species reach a length of 35 centimeters, while females measure 18,5 centimeters. Like most of the Ctenosaura, iguanas are born a bright green color that fades to brown as the animal ages. Females tend to take on a uniform brown color and males develop shades of black., blues and yellows on his body and head on the brown background.


It is a kind of secretive and strictly diurnal habits, terrestrial and arboreal, that usually hides in caves or holes in the ground or between roots and cracks in fallen logs, or low over trees or bushes. They are occasionally seen resting or basking, usually during the hottest hours of the day, and are extremely quick to escape and hide from any potential danger..

Adults are basically vegetarians, feeding mainly on leaves and fruits and occasionally on some invertebrates. Its reproduction is oviparous.



The Oaxacan spinytail iguana it is omnivorous and is known to consume leaves, fruits and flowers of many trees, including the indian agati (Sesbania grandiflora), the jobo (Spondias mombin) and the azulillo (Tecophilaea cyanocrocus), as well as various insects. This species has a significant symbiotic relationship with shrubs in the plant families Fabaceae and Bignoniaceae. It is sometimes known to eat crop plants, like the bean.


The sexual maturity of Oaxacan spinytail iguana reached at two years of age; reproductive males have an average of 26 cm long snout-cloaca (SVL), while the females measure 24 cm SVL. Males can reach up to 35 cm long SVL. Breed annually, with five eggs or less; the incubation period is 80 days. Their average lifespan is six years.

Threats to the species

Oaxacan spinytail iguana
Pygmy club-tailed garrobo in Prague Zoo – Jklamo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is currently considered a rare species with reduced populations and in danger..
Total population size unknown, but it is estimated that there may be less than 2,500 mature individuals.

These Ctenosaura are threatened by habitat fragmentation and destruction caused by human activities, including urbanization, Agriculture, deforestation and ranching.

  • The Oaxacan spinytail iguana takes refuge in fence posts or hollow trees that are threatened by ranchers and farmers who intentionally set fires to annually regenerate their fields.
  • Sometimes they are also killed by accident, inside tree holes that are collected for firewood.
  • Large-scale farming and ranching displaces Oaxacan spinytail iguana and fragment the population, this can reduce their genetic variability to some extent.
  • forest clearing, the uncontrolled burning and extraction of wood and the construction of roads, provides easier access to garrobo dispersals outside its habitat for gamers.
  • In regions where they are not hunted for food or for the pet trade, these iguanas are feared and intentionally killed in the belief that they are poisonous.
  • In many cases, iguanas die due to blocking their burrow entrances in hollow trees and fence posts.

  • The "Oaxacan spinytail iguana" in captivity

    This species is widely traded within the legal and illegal pet trade and is sold nationally and internationally.. The Oaxacan spinytail iguana was the second species of the genus Ctenosaura most imported into the United States 2001-2008, with the 50 % of imported specimens registered as wild-sourced and 50 % as captive maids (3171 iguanas) from two hatcheries in Nicaragua. One of the breeding facilities reported a total export of more than 6000 captive-bred juveniles to Europe, Asia and USA in 2009. Since 2005, the number of reported exports to the US has decreased; the number of exports to other countries is unknown. Interviews conducted in several municipalities reported wild captures destined for the pet market.

    Recently, all spiny tailed iguana were approved for inclusion in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to improve the regulation of international trade. Before listing in CITES, this species was included in a partial trade ban within the European Union since 1996.

    The terrarium

    As to the nature, the Oaxacan spinytail iguana is relatively tame, eats from the hand and does not get scared when you put your hand in the terrarium, but if you try to catch it it bites, to clean the terrarium you have to hold it with gloves. When it comes to eating, he likes practically everything.: Apple, pear, banana, melon, zucchini, green pepper, Canons, cockroaches, crickets, grasshopper,all kinds of worms, little mice, small reptiles, etc.. It is a very easy species to care for..

    Buy one "Oaxacan spinytail iguana"

    Annually they are exported every year to Europe, Asia, and the US, an approximate number of plus almost 6000 young individuals of Oaxacan spinytail iguana from captive breeding.

    Its price can range from 30 euros for a baby up to 300 euros for an adult male.

    Videos "Oaxacan spinytail iguana"


    New black iguana terrarium

    Alternative names:

    1. Oaxacan spinytail iguana, Five-keeled spiny-tailed iguana (English).
    2. Iguane à queue épineuse (French).
    3. Fünfkiel-Schwarzleguan , Oaxaca-Stachelschwanz-Leguan, Fünfkielige Stachelschwanz-Leguan (German).
    4. Iguana de cauda espinhosa de Oaxaca, Iguana de cauda espinhosa de cinco quilhas (Portuguese).
    5. "Garrobo enano de cola de garrote", Cola chata, Garrobo de cola espinosa, Garrobo enano o Iguana de cola espinosa de cinco quillas (español).

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