The Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) is the most commonly seen large Amazon reptile. It is the subject of scientific research for its potential to replace cattle ranching as a sustainable source of meat. It is said to be very tasty, hence the iguana's nickname: Chicken of the Forest. The yield of meat from "farmed" iguana is much higher than that from cattle, and it can last indefinitely because it does not require destruction of the forest. It seems the main problem is to persuade people to eat iguana instead of beef.
Photographed on deck, this specimen was captured by the ship's crew and ended up in the pot. This is a traditional food for Amazon people. The iguana was full-grown, about six feet long, hence able to feed quite a few people! (The author did not participate in the meal.) This close view allows us to see some aspects of iguana morphology, discussed in the section on green iguana natural history.
As with all reptiles, the iguana relies on its behavior to maintain an even body temperature, and hence its ability to remain active. At dawn or dusk, it basks along a tree branch above water, soaking up the rays of the rising or setting sun. When threatened, the iguana drops into the water and, using its powerful tail, swims away.