There is so much to do in Exuma you’ll find yourself needing to come back for multiple trips just to do it all. While it can be hard to tear yourself away from the crystal turquoise water, we recommend you find time to visit some local critters. While the pigs are probably Exuma’s most famous animal attraction, stop by Allen Cay for some reptile love. Allen’s Cay is home to some wild, but docile and friendly iguanas. They’re a popular attraction and here is everything you should know before visiting them.
1. They’re only found on Exuma
Their technical name is the Northern Bahamian Rock Iguanas but most people refer to them as Allen’s Cay iguanas or the Exuma iguanas. There are three cays where these iguanas can be found, Allen’s Cay, Southern Allen’s Cay, and Leaf Cay. But these animals aren’t found anywhere else in the world outside of those three cays in Exuma. Most people visit them on Allen’s Cay as it’s the biggest.
2. They’re endangered
It’s sad to say, but not surprising considering their limited and isolated location, that these iguanas are endangered. In fact, they are considered to be one of the world’s more endangered lizards. Visitors should be extra careful when around them. Be gentle when interacting with them and only feed them food that your guide says is safe.
3. They can get big and old
You might hear “lizard” and think “small”, but Exuma iguanas can be quite big. They have the potential to reach 24 pounds! That’s not quite Godzilla weight, but still impressive. In fact, these lizards are actually the largest natural land vertebrate in the Bahamas! They can also get to a pretty old age. It’s estimated they can live up to 40 years!
4. Don’t feed them just anything
These iguanas have become so accustomed to being fed that it’s actually changed how they behave. It’s best to limit what you feed them to fruits and veggies. Most people opt for grapes, delivered via sticks. Ask a local guide for advice before feeding them anything. Try to avoid feeding them anything off the ground or that has sand on it. They can’t digest sand well so it could harm them.
5. They can be bold
Like people, it seems iguanas have their own personality. Even when offered food, some will stay away and other’s skit around, taking the food quickly before darting off. Visitors say some can be quite bold though. Some iguanas have no problem climbing on arms and body parts. Be warned when feeding them too- they have been known to bite fingers or toes that they’ve mistaken for food.
6. They can jump
Speaking of them being bold, some visitors are surprised to find that these large lizards can get some air. That’s right, these iguanas can jump quite high. If you hold the sticks with food a little off the ground you can see for yourself!
7. They’re out from sunrise to sunset
Trying to figure out the best time of day to go see the iguanas? The good news is that as long as the sun is out, so will the iguanas. These creatures are reptiles and have cold blood, which means they can’t regulate their own temperature. Like everyone else on vacation in Exuma, they prefer to spend their days sunbathing on the white sand.