Oaxaca Spiny-tailed Iguana
Ctenosaura oaxacana
IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
Range: Oaxaca, México
Population: Unknown, estimated less than 2,500
Size: Average length from snout to vent is 4.75"; average weight 2.2 oz.
Threats: Habitat conversion for cattle grazing
Conservation Measures

Very little is known about this small iguana restricted to the Pacific versant of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Southern Oaxaca, México. Prior to 2001 when the species was described, these iguanas were included in the classification for the Five-keeled Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura quinquecarinata) found in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Similar to the latter, the Oaxaca Spiny-tailed Iguana has a very stout and spiky tail which may help protect it from predators. They seek refuge in the natural hollows of trees and cacti where their tail can be used as a firm wedge. They are found primarily in the dry forest – the same habitat that is preferred by cattle ranchers and is converted to grazing land.

In order to gain a better understanding of this iguana’s natural history, range, genetic diversity, and the threats it faces, a few researchers have launched ecological studies in this area, funded in part by the IIF. Where they are found, these iguanas appear to be living at higher densities compared to other iguana species, but restricted to small forest patches. Key in this project is conservation training for regional students and community awareness.
Reports from the Field
IIF Grants Received