rhinoceros iguanas, Cyclura cornuta (3)

photo: Flickr user Christopher Evans

rhinoceros iguanas, Cyclura cornuta (4)

photo: Flickr user Joachim S. Müller

rhinoceros iguanas, Cyclura cornuta (1)

photo: Taipei Zoo

Habitat: Hispaniola, Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Status: Vulnerable

Looking like a modern day Triceratops, the Rhinoceros Iguana (Cyclura cornuta) is a large, heavy species of iguana first identified by Pierre Joseph Bonnaterre in 1789. Most adults reach a length of somewhere between 2 to 4 feet and weigh between 10 and 20 lbs.

Of course, the Rhinoceros Iguana gets its name from the bony tubercles on their snouts which resemble horns (rhinoceros horns, to be exact). The horns are much more prominent in males. Males also have “helmets” on their heads. The species is very territorial, and males as well as females will try and intimidate any encroaching pests with body gyrations and head movement.

To attract mates, the males will perform an elaborate courtship ritual that includes lifting the spines on their backs and bobbing their heads.

While the adults may look like living dinosaurs, the babies look like chubby little cold-blooded friends that just want cuddles:

Although they’re the most common species of Cyclura kept in captivity, Rhinoceros Iguanas are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN’s List of Threatened Species. Populations are only stable on Isla Beata and the extreme of the Barahona Peninsula inside Parque Nacional Jaragua. It’s estimated that there are 10-16,000 of these animals left in the wild.

From the looks of the number of Youtube videos that pop up when searching for Rhinoceros Iguanas, it seems like they do make great pets when kept properly. Check out this super friendly fellow:


and watch this one enjoy a tasty banana: