Fiji banded iguana (Brachylophus fasciatus)

Also known as: South Pacific banded iguana
Synonyms: Brachylophus brevicephalus
French: Iguane à bandes de Fidji
GenusBrachylophus (1)
SizeTotal length: up to 80 cm (2)

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

The Fiji banded iguana is a spectacularly beautiful, large, emerald-green lizard named for the highly distinctive, broad, vertical blue to light green stripes on the body and tail of males (5). Females, by contrast, are usually uniformly green, occasionally showing a few white to pale blue spots (2) (6). Both sexes have red-orange eyes, bright yellow-rimmed nostrils and a short crest of raised scales running down their spine (2) (5). The extremely long tail makes up more than two thirds of the lizard’s total length, and is used for balance as it climbs amongst the forest branches (2).

Confined to Fiji and Tonga (7), with an introduced population on Vanuatu (1).

Found mostly in undisturbed forest habitat (4), this strictly arboreal lizard is very good at climbing and leaping through branches. They are also good swimmers like all Iguanids (8).

The Fiji banded iguana is active during the day, when it forages for leaves, flowers, fruit and occasionally insects, basks in the sun and defends territories (4). Males are highly territorial using a predominantly visual display to intimidate intruders and often ending in aggressive confrontations. During courtship, males entice females to mate by bobbing their head and flicking their tongue at them (4). After mating, the female digs a burrow, into which she lays and buries a clutch of three to six eggs. The eggs typically hatch seven to nine months later and the young dig out of the burrow together (8).

The Fiji banded iguana is considered seriously endangered due to habitat destruction and predation by mongooses and house cats introduced to the islands, which feed on the iguanas and their eggs (6).

The Fiji banded iguana now has full protection under both Fiji and international laws (6). There have also been very successful captive breeding programmes of this species, with the Fear-No-More Zoo in Fiji having successfully bred the species for the last fifteen years (9), and the San Diego Zoo in the U.S. having produced over 100 offspring since 1965 (10).

Authenticated (10/12/07) by Dr. Peter Harlow, Manager of the Herpetofauna Division, Taronga Zoo, Australia.

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2013)