Research: Pass The Iguana Tail, Please

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Written by: Lori Soard
Date: 2002

iguanaOne of the most popular lizards, and often kept as a pet, is the common green iguana (Iguana, iguana). Its natural habitat spans from the lowlands of central Mexico to the southern tip of America. Igaunas have many fascinating features but probably the most utlized part of the iguana’s body is its tail. Not only does the iguana use the tail for protection, escape,and mating, but iguana tail is considered a delicacy in many part of Latin America.

The igauna’s tail is typically longer than the animal’s turnk. The tail accounts for more than half of the iguana’s overall length of almost six feet. The top of the tail has a row of flexible spines. These spines extend from the nape of the iguana’s neck to the tip of the tail. The row of spines is slightly higher in males.

These spines can be emplyed for protection. Iguanas use their tails as weapons, whipping them about. This thrashing motion helps to fend off enemies. The scales on the tip of the tail favor the teeth of a saw. When swung with adequate force, an iguana’s tail has been known to cut through cloth. Some larger iguanas have been seen knocking dogs off their feet by swinging their tails into the dogs’ legs.

Another feature of the iguana that allows it to escape a tricky situation is the ability to drop its tail. If seized from behind by an enemy, or what the iguana perceives as an enemy, he will drop his tail. The dropped tail will proceed to move for a while, hiding the attacker’s attention while the iguana escapes. Iguanas can regenerate their tails, but the tail will grow back a somewhat different color and the break line will be noticeable.

The tail also come in handy during mating when the male grasps the base of the female’s tail with one hind leg. He then bites firmly on her neck or head to immobilize her. He sways his head back and forth during mating, which lasts between one and twenty minutes.

Despite all these advantages of the iguana’s tail, there is one disadvantage from the iguana’s point of view. Iguana tail is considered a delicacy in many parts of Latin American and the animal has been hunted almost to extinction in several regions. They are known in many parts of Latin America as gaffina de palo, or chicken of the tree. It is said that the tail does indeed taste like roast chicken.

In areas where iguanas are still abundant, young boys will search the trees alongside a river, one of the iguanas favorite resting places, until they find a cluster of iguanas. One boy will climb the tree and frighten the animals, whose instinct is to fall into the water below. The other boys will then dive in and catch the lizards, who can stay submerged for up to half an hour.

The captured iguana are displayed at food stalls suspended by their hind legs while still alive. To the onlooker this seems to be gruesome, inhumane treatment of the animal. Luckily, where laws have been passed to protect iguanas their numbers seem to be increasing. However, they are seen as a valuable food source and research continues toward the origination of iguana ranches specifically designed to supply food.

The iguana’s tail is indeed a fascinating object. It is capable of cutting, dropping off, regenerating and even supplying food. it is no small wonder that so many owners find these lizards to be amazing and enjoyable pets.

One of the most popular lizards, and often kept as a pet, is the common green iguana (Iguana, iguana). Its natural habitat spans from the lowlands of central Mexico to the southern tip of America. Igaunas have many fascinating features but probably the most utlized part of the iguana’s body is its tail. Not only does the iguana use the tail for protection, escape,and mating, but iguana tail is considered a delicacy in many part of Latin America.

The igauna’s tail is typically longer than the animal’s turnk. The tail accounts for more than half of the iguana’s overall length of almost six feet. The top of the tail has a row of flexible spines. These spines extend from the nape of the iguana’s neck to the tip of the tail. The row of spines is slightly higher in males.

These spines can be emplyed for protection. Iguanas use their tails as weapons, whipping them about. This thrashing motion helps to fend off enemies. The scales on the tip of the tail favor the teeth of a saw. When swung with adequate force, an iguana’s tail has been known to cut through cloth. Some larger iguanas have been seen knocking dogs off their feet by swinging their tails into the dogs’ legs.

Another feature of the iguana that allows it to escape a tricky situation is the ability to drop its tail. If seized from behind by an enemy, or what the iguana perceives as an enemy, he will drop his tail. The dropped tail will proceed to move for a while, hiding the attacker’s attention while the iguana escapes. Iguanas can regenerate their tails, but the tail will grow back a somewhat different color and the break line will be noticeable.

The tail also come in handy during mating when the male grasps the base of the female’s tail with one hind leg. He then bites firmly on her neck or head to immobilize her. He sways his head back and forth during mating, which ~asts between one and twenty minutes.

Despite all these advantages of the iguana’s tail, there is one disadvantage from the iguana’s point of view. Iguana tail is considered a delicacy in many parts of Latin American and the animal has been hunted almost to extinction in several regions. They are known in many parts of Latin America as gaffina de palo, or chicken of the tree. It is said that the tail does indeed taste like roast chicken.

In areas where iguanas are still abundant, young boys will search the trees alongside a river, one of the iguanas favorite resting places, until they find a cluster of iguanas. One boy will climb the tree and frighten the animals, whose instinct is to fall into the water below. The other boys will then dive in and catch the lizards, who can stay submerged for up to half an hour.

The captured iguana are displayed at food stalls suspended by their hind legs while still alive. To the onlooker this seems to be gruesome, inhumane treatment of the animal. Luckily, where laws have been passed to protect iguanas their numbers seem to be increasing. However, they are seen as a valuable food source and research continues toward the origination of iguana ranches specifically designed to supply food.

The iguana’s tail is indeed a fascinating object. It is capable of cutting, dropping off, regenerating and even supplying food. it is no small wonder that so many owners find these lizards to be amazing and enjoyable pets.

Lori Soard started Word Museum in 1997. She’s a published author and has written thousands of articles over the years for newspapers, magazines and online. She has a PhD in Journalism and lives in Southern Indiana with her husband. They have two grown daughters, both animal lovers their house is always filled with pets.

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