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The native range of the green iguana extends from southern Mexico to central Brazil, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, and Bolivia and the Caribbean; specifically Grenada, Curaçao, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Útila. They have been introduced to Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and the United States Virgin Islands; and colonised the island of Anguilla in 1995 after being washed ashore following a hurricane. Though the species is not native to Martinique, a small wild colony of released or escaped green iguanas endures at historic Fort Saint Louis.
Green iguanas are diurnal, arboreal, and are often found near water. Agile climbers, Iguana iguana can fall up to 50 feet (15 m) and land unhurt (iguanas use their hind leg claws to clasp leaves and branches to break a fall). During cold, wet weather, green iguanas prefer to stay on the ground for greater warmth. When swimming, an iguana remains submerged, letting its four legs hang limply against its side. They propel through the water with powerful tail strokes.
Because of the green iguana’s popularity in the pet trade and as a food source in Latin America, they are listed on the CITES Appendix II, which means that while they are not an endangered species, “their trade must be controlled so as to not harm the species in the future”. The iguanas are often referred to as “disposable pets” due to owners not taking proper care of them and later disposing of them.