They live relaxed, comfortable, sunbathing in one place, get tired, walk a little to the beach and continue sunbathing in another place, it seems that they have a pleasant life and this belongs to the land iguanas, who spend most of their time sunbathing in order to regulate their body temperature and to be able to move around to eat.
Three different species of land iguanas live in Galapagos. The conolophus subcristatus can be found on six of the islands, while the conolophus pallidus can only be found on Santa Fe Island and the famous pink iguana, the conolophus rosada, on Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island.
The land iguana is active during the day. It basks on volcanic rocks to keep warm and when the ambient temperature is too high, especially in the middle of the day, it resorts to shady places to regulate its body temperature. At night it sleeps in holes in the ground that it digs to conserve heat.
This species is omnivorous but most of the time it feeds on small plants, bushes and cacti of the Opuntia genus. It obtains the moisture and water it needs to withstand periods of drought from thorny cacti, which make up 80% of its diet. When it rains, it takes the water that accumulates in the flowers of the Portulaca genus.
It maintains symbiotic relationships with certain species of birds such as finches and mockingbirds, which in exchange for food clean the ticks that adhere to its body. During this interaction, the iguanas rise as high off the ground as possible and remain motionless while the birds clean the ticks.
She usually lays 2 to 20 eggs and guards the nests for a few days so that other females do not lay their own eggs in it. Meanwhile, the males guard their territory and defend it by shaking their heads, biting and flapping their tails.
It is estimated that between 5,000 and 10,000 land iguanas are found in the Galapagos. These iguanas were so abundant on Santiago Island that naturalist Charles Darwin commented when it was called King James Island that “… when we stayed on James, we could not find a place free of their burrows in which to pitch our only tent”. In the years since then, entire populations (including all the animals on James Island) have been wiped out by introduced feral animals such as pigs, rats, cats and dogs.
Their nocturnal activity is based on digging holes where they lodge to conserve heat in their bodies. They are not threatened by invasive predators, since their predators include animals native and natural to the archipelago, among which are the snakes of the islands and the sparrowhawk, which feed on the young and subadults.
The reproductive season coincides with the three climatic seasons of the islands, since at the end of the rainy season is when courtship occurs, between the end of June until September mating occurs, while nesting takes place between October and December, where the weather is sunny and dry.
All of these are endangered species and are therefore treated appropriately, prohibiting their use as pets. Despite this, Galapagos land iguanas tend to survive in dry environments, as they do not need to drink water as they get their hydration from the plants and fruits they consume, and therefore survive in environments with no fresh water available.
Until recently, about 2,000 iguanas have been introduced. The same iguanas were introduced on Santiago Island, in the north of the archipelago, with the aim of repopulating the territory after 200 years of inactivity. These iguanas will be subjected to monitoring to study their behavior in their new habitat, in order to ensure that these species are used to their best advantage, as well as their adaptation and reproduction.
It is something that moves both the experts of these creatures and the citizens of the archipelago and Ecuador. The last time they saw this species was in the year 1835, due to the animals introduced in those times, among which the feral pig and the goats stand out, which were totally eliminated by 2008.