Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Fiji banded iguana
The Fiji banded iguana(Brachylophus fasciatus) is a lizard native to the Fijian islands. It is also found in Tonga as it was introduced there by humans. It is an arboreal species of iguana. Geographically, it is the most isolated member of the family iguanidae. Its numbers have been declining in the recent past due to habitat destruction and because of the introduced feral populations of mongooses and cats.
They are considered as a national treasure to the government and the people show their love by putting these shy creatures pictures on stamps, currency and phone books.
This species was found by French zoologist Alexandre Brongniart in 1800. Brachylophos is the name of the genus. This name(the genus) came from two Greek words: brachys which means "short" and lophus meaning "plume" because of the short spiny crests on its back. Fasciatus(the specific name) means "banded" in Latin.
It is closely related to the Fiji crested iguana and the Fiji iguana.
Habitat and Distribution
The Fiji banded iguana is native to the Fiji island and is found on the islands Wayaka, Vatulele, Ono, Dravuni, Vanua, Balavu, Moturiki Beqa, Nggamea, Avea , Lakeba, Vatu, Aiwa, Oneata, Vanua Levu, Totoya and Kabra and Fulaga. It has been introduced to Tonga islands, Iles Wallis and New Hebrides about 300 years ago. Feral populations have been introduced to some places like Vanuatu in the 1960's. There numbers are dwindling with a population of roughly 10,000. They live in unruffled forests from low lying coastal swamps to high cloud forests.
Fiji banded iguanas are herbivores. Even though some of the captive hatchlings eat insect, adults usually don't. They normally eat fruits and flowers especially the hibiscus flower from the Vau tree. They eat fruits like bananas and papayas.
Male with stripes
Males normally have two to three pale blue or white 2 centimeters bands which is wide crossing their green like emerald background color having a pattern as spots and stripes on their neck region. Females are dark green in color and sometimes have spots and partial bands. Fiji banded iguanas measure up to 60 centimeters when measured from snout to tail. Both genders are yellow on the underside. Their skin is sensitive and they can change their color to match the background in about 30 seconds.Their body weight is about 200g and they very small crests growing up to 0.5 centimeters. The appearance can vary depending upon the insular population. In Tonga, they are smaller and leaner. Because of this they used to be considered as another species until recently they were classified as the same species
Female Fiji banded Iguana
The breeding season starts at the month of November. The female have a long period of incubation which is about 160 to 170 days. They are oviparous. The female normally guards its nest which is unusual for an six iguana. They have clutches of three to six eggs.
The biggest threats these iguana are facing are forest fires, agriculture, loss of habitat, storms and competition from feral goats. Another threat are the rat, mongooses and cats that are introduced to their habitat.
Since 1982, the Fijian government has made a rule that none of these iguanas can be taken to captivity without the permission of the government. This rule became strict when the American zoos had taken 50 to 100 of these iguanas without the permission of the government. The Fiji banded iguanas on the San Diego Zoo has the best breeding colony of Fiji banded iguanas in the world.
Source of picture 1:http://www.southtexasreptiles.com/strforum/showthread.php?t=15580
Source of picture 2:http://www.buysellreptiles.com/type.asp?Location=68
Source of picture 3:http://www.tropifauna.co.uk/fiji.htm