Four Facts and Tidbits About the Interesting Desert Iguana

Desert Iguana

The desert iguana is an interesting species of animal with many unique characteristics. While it is not necessarily a pet iguana, it is still a fun reptile to learn about. Learn four fun desert iguana facts including their habitat, physical characteristic, how they regulate temperature and more!

1 - Scientific classification: The desert iguana has the scientific name Dipsosaurus dorsalis. The first word, dipsosaurus, stands for "thirsty lizard" while the second half of it's name means "back”. It gets this name because it lives in the desert and has a special row of enlarged scales that run along its back all the way to the end of the tail!

2 - Habitat: Desert iguanas are native to areas such as California (southeastern region), Utah, and parts of Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico. This type of iguana specializes in living in a desert climate. It spends much of its time in the dry and sandy areas near rocks and Creosote bushes. If you find a desert iguana living in the southern reaches of it's natural habitat, it will likely be found in more of a forested area.

3 - Physical Characteristics: Unlike green iguanas, a desert iguana has a much smaller adult size. They typically only grow up 16 inches in length. They have browny-red heads. Desert iguanas have a noticeably raised set of scales that run down the length of their spines. Their body color ranges from grey to white (more on this later) with many spots visible.

4 - Temperature Regulation: Because iguanas are cold blooded reptiles, they are unable to maintain their own constant body temperature. Fortunately, a desert iguana has many tricks used to help in this regard.

In the mornings, when the desert sun isn't quite as powerful, the iguana will darken its color to soak up more heat. As the day progresses and temperatures rise above 100, the body will lose much of its color and fade to white to reflect most of the sun's rays! Isn't that a neat trick to stay cool? If that isn't enough, the desert iguana will hide in tunnels to get some shade and cool down.

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