One afternoon in June when David and I were driving through the Residential Zone in Guayabitos, we spotted an enormous male Green Iguana sunning himself along Flamingos. This big boy was the largest Iguana we had seen up close and personal in a long time. He must have measured in at a good 4-5 feet long including his tail. We have seen iguanas of this size and coloration in Sayulita before, and also a few at Backstreet Restaurant in years past, but never here in the Zona.
After doing some research online, I learned that those cute little Green Iguanas you see scampering around your garden turn into these prehistoric-looking monsters which can live 15-20 years in the wild and can grow to be 6-7 feet in length including their tail. During mating season, most male Green Iguanas change color and develop a wash of rusty orange across their body, dewlap (that thing hanging from its chin), spikes, body and legs like the one we saw. For some reason, I had the impression that the large reddish-colored Iguanas were a different variety, but clearly I was mistaken. Males and females can actually retain some of their breeding color all year long, especially if they are dominant to other iguanas, or humans, in their environment. The only real threat for Iguanas are habitat destruction and humans.
For anyone wanting to witness these amazing creatures firsthand, you can visit the Santuario de la Iguana Verde (Green Iguana Sanctuary) in Sayulita. Once you get to the middle of town ask for directions; just about everyone in Sayulita is familiar with it.