Common Iguana

A common iguana climbs vertically up the smooth trunk of a tree, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A common iguana climbs vertically up the smooth trunk of a tree, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

On a trip to Mexico at the beginning of the year, I was lucky to find a large, male common iguana and set about photographing it. My favorite portrait position was when it began to climb the trunk of a smooth tree. It walked vertically up the tree with ease, employing the use of its long toes claws.

The common iguana's features are striking, from scaled multicolored skin to small horns and spikes
The common iguana’s features are striking, from scaled multicolored skin to small horns and spikes

I also managed to get some interesting poses from the ground, where it was patrolling its territory. Here you can see the iguana’s large dewlap, a flap of skin hanging from its neck used to regulate body temperature.

A common iguana eats leaves from a plant growing along the ground, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A common iguana eats leaves from a plant growing along the ground, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

I soon realized that it was on the lookout for its mate, when a female emerged and began eating low growing plants.

A common iguana sits in the sun in short grass, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
A common iguana sits in the sun in short grass, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

As the male had spines of an extraordinary orange color, I wanted to get a ground portrait that showed them off. I used a shallow focus an emphasize the head, while you still see a hint of the orange spines in the background.

The common iguana's feet help it cling to a vertical tree trunk, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The common iguana’s feet help it cling to a vertical tree trunk, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Probably the most notable feature however was the large feet of the iguana. It was fascinating to watch it grip smooth surfaces and navigate them so easily.

Using a long lens, I made sure to keep my distance, both so as not to disturb the lizard, and so that I felt safe! The last thing I wanted was to have to treat a nasty lizard bite. As usual, please click the images for larger, more detailed versions.