COSTA RICAN FLORA & FAUNA - GUANACASTE PART IV


This week we'll discuss some reptile species such as the iguana and the ctenosaur. Many travelers see the ctenosaur and call it an iguana. Although they are right, it is a variety of iguana (Black Spiny Iguana is another name), it has differences from a regular iguana that most are familiar with. In the pictures below you will be able to see the difference with better detail. They are in fact different in many ways and are related species in kingdom and phylum, but everything else is different. 

The iguana is larger than the ctenosaur and their coloring is typically orange (males). This coloration has to do with mating, the more orange a male is the more attractive he will be to the female. Iguanas also have a row of spines from they head to their tail, while the ctenosaur has it mainly on the tail and not as prominent. The ctenosaur also tends to be a grayish and light green coloring, typically more active during the day. Their habitats are also different. While it's more common to see iguanas in the trees, ctenosaurs like rock and tree crevices.

Both species have been known to be eaten, hence their nickname, "tree chickens". Although they are protected, they are still hunted by locals, yet no evidence has been found that they are an endangered species. The ctenosaur is also used medicinally for anemia. A mid size ctenosaur is skinned, cleaned and macerated before being slow boiled in water. The broth is used to fight weakness, anemia and other similar ailments.

To be continued next week...