Belizeans are known for having a colorful sense of humor which is why the local nickname for the green iguana is “bamboo chicken”. The largest species of lizard in the country, an adult bamboo chicken can measure nearly seven feet in length, although most of the length comes from its enormous tail. The flesh of the “bamboo chicken” is popular in Belize and used for many local recipes. Even more popular are the creamy eggs of the green iguana which are considered a true delicacy by local gourmands.
Once heavily hunted for its eggs and meat, today the green iguana is protected by law and the Belize Zoo now organizes several captive breeding programs throughout the country. The native habitat of the green iguana is on tree branches overlooking a river as the lizard will dive into the water when it is startled or threatened by predators.
Juvenile green iguanas spend a lot of time on the floor of the rainforests of Belize, hunting for insects, snails, worms and grubs. Once they’ve matured, adult green iguanas start climbing higher in the branches of trees to eat berries, fruits and leaves. On occasion, green iguanas will eat small mammals and birds.
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