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Iguana, Desert

Desert Iguana at the LA Zoo Photo Credit Tad Motoyama

Scientific Name: Dipsosaurus dorsalis

Desert Iguanas hibernate during the winter season.

Creosote bushes provide many things to the desert iguana. They have been observed eating the yellow flowers, taking shelter from the heat, or hiding from predators.

Tail Drop

Like many lizards without prehensile tails, the desert iguana can drop their tail–meaning they can detach their tail and grow a new one. This process is known as autonomy, the ability to lose a limb and grow it. The desert iguana has break planes in specific vertebrae that facilitate this survival skill. Muscles that contract help to separate the tail from the body internal sphincter muscles contract to close of blood vessels to prevent the desert iguana from bleeding out. Within a few weeks, the part of the tail that was dropped regenerates.

The desert iguana has not been categorized yet by the IUCN.

They live largely in the Mojave desert region, including East-Central California, Southern Nevada, and Western Arizona. They also inhabit the desert area of Baja California, Sonora, and Sinaloa in Mexico.

The desert iguana is an omnivore; it will happily eat greens, fruits, or veggies that it can find and will sometimes eat insects.

Desert iguanas are medium sized reptiles that depend on their coloration to blend in. They are light beige to brown in color, with undersides that are lighter. This makes them incredibly difficult to spot. Because they are medium sized, there are plenty of places for them to hide from predators, they can slip under loose rocks, or easily be missed as they sun themselves in the crevice of a rock.

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