What is a Ctenosaura???

It’s quite the Wildlife Wednesday!!! 

Earlier this week during my time in Costa Rica, I encountered a giant lizard. I am not usually frightened of animals, even exotic ones, but this fella was quite large, nearly four feet in length.  After learning that he wasn’t a first cousin of Godzilla and I would likely survive the encounter, I started to do some research.  

The Ctenosaura Similes, also known as the Black Spiny-tailed Iguana, is indigenous to Central America and can grow to be FIVE feet in length.  They are often referred to as “chicken of the trees” as they are sometimes snacked on by people in the tropics.  That being said, I can confirm that they look nothing like a chicken! 

After I calmed down a bit, I hatched a plan to catch him in hopes that my advisor, biologist Sean Graesser could photograph him.I attached a noose made out of string to the end of an old bird net poll & chased the lizard around the yard for a little over twenty minutes until I received some help & the lizard was caught.

The noose was slipped off his neck & he was held while pictures were taken before we let him go back to his sunning spot in the yard. 

The execution of this plan was changed after I backed out of holding him so the roles were switched. 

Once we secured him, we slipped the noose off his neck and we held him to be photographed before releasing him back to his sunning spot in the nearby field.   Unlike many oter animals that are indigenous to this part of the world, the Ctenosaura Similes population appears to be thriving suggesting only a low level of conservation concern.  This does not mean that all efforts should not be taken into consideration to further preserve this species.   



Above are a few photos that I took with a shaky hand and am proud to say no one was bit in the process.

To learn more about these amazing animals, please visit:  http://www.waza.org/en/zoo/choose-a-species/reptiles/lizards-and-tuatara/ctenosaura-similis !!


  1. jimandsandy10@gmail.com says:

    REALLY!!! 😝

    Sent from my iPad



  2. bruce losee says:

    We live in Placencia Belize and have a similar species here called the Ctenosaur Similis or Spiny Tailed Lizard locally called Wish Willy … I have caught one only by cornering it they are reportedly the fastest lizards here and I can confirm ha.Love learning more about yours when we go down this spring with friends , … although C. Similis supposedly climbs trees they are mostly on the ground or in roof tops under the shingles when they are smaller…Thanks for the info …


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