1,1 m


5 kg


16 years

The rhinoceros iguana is a species of scaly reptile and comes from the island of Hispaniola. It has three horns on the top of its snout, which is why it is called the horned iguana or rhinoceros iguana.

General characteristics

Su piel es de un color gris acerado, verde oscuro y en ocasiones hasta marrón.  Los cuernos que tienen, sobre todo los de los machos que son más prominentes, en el hocico es lo que le da nombre a esta especie.   

Their fur is steely grey, dark green and sometimes even brown. The horns, especially those of the males, which are more prominent, on the muzzle, is what gives this species its name.

Like all reptiles, they are cold-blooded and need to seek external sources of heat to regulate their internal temperature. 


It is a herbivorous species and therefore feeds on leaves, flowers, berries and fruits of various plants. Rhinoceros iguanas play an important role in distributing the seeds of the plants they eat, especially females that migrate to another nesting site.


Rhinoceros iguanas are generally good-natured. Males nod their heads to show dominance or to communicate that this is their area. They also use head movements to communicate to females that they are ready to mate. Females only use head movements to reject males.

Many captive iguanas show interest in contact with humans, many of them even seem to like it when a human pets them like a dog.


While females reach sexual maturity at two to three years of age, males reach sexual maturity at four to five years of age. Males of this species are quite territorial.

Mating occurs before the first rainy season and once the females have laid their eggs, they remain guarding their nests and incubating their eggs for approximately 85 days.


The main threats to rhinoceros iguanas are humans, some birds, feral dogs and cats. In addition, limestone mining, the pet trade and hunting for bushmeat also pose a major threat to this species.


They live on Hispaniola, both in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Those in Haiti are threatened by deforestation, wildlife poaching and other human factors.

They like to live in the thickets of dry forests, coastal terraces and other places characterised by rocky terrain and minimal flora. They also prefer places where there are crevices to hide from predators.

Did you know? 

Males are larger than females, and their horns and crests are more prominent.

Although they are mainly herbivores, individuals have been seen feeding on small lizards, snakes and insects.

Some caretakers use leather gloves even with docile specimens, as they may suddenly change moods and bite or scratch.

Conservation status