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Utila Island iguanas by Adam Davis

A critically endangered species of Iguana has bred at Bristol Zoo Gardens for the very first time. Reptile keepers at Bristol Zoo successfully hatched 17 baby Utila spiny-tailed Iguanas – a species that is listed as critically endangered and once considered to be one of the rarest Iguanas in existence.

The eggs were laid after two young adult Iguanas arrived at the zoo last year as a new breeding pair, to boost numbers of this species in captivity. They were transferred to a temperature-controlled incubator for three months until hatching and then moved into a vivarium on display in the Zoo’s Reptile House.

Tim Skelton, Curator of reptiles and amphibians at Bristol Zoo, said: “I’m thrilled that we have successfully hatched so many Iguanas from the first clutch of eggs laid by our new female. This is an interesting and very valuable species because they are only found on one island, Utila, off the coast of Honduras in Central America.”

He added: “The babies are currently only around 15cm long but will eventually grow to approximately 60cm on a diet of vegetation and small insects.”

Utila Island iguanas by Adam Davis 4

Utila Island iguanas by Adam Davis 5
Photo Credit: Adam Davis

The Utila spiny-tailed iguana is named after the single island it inhabits and the whorls of enlarged spiny scales that encircle the tail. The colour of adult Utila spiny-tailed iguanas varies from light grey to dark grey-brown, often with an attractive turquoise tinge. All juveniles, however, are a uniform grey-brownAs they are part of a co-ordinated European breeding program, it is hoped that the majority of the babies at Bristol Zoo will easily be found new homes once they have grown up a bit.

Utila spiny-tailed iguanas have been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) ‘red list’ of endangered species.