April 21, 2014
Visitors to Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium may be in for some unexpectedly close encounters over the coming weeks in the shape of a giant reptile going for a walk.
The Southsea wildlife attaction is caring for a Green Iguana and, as part of Rosie’s weekly exercise routine, keepers are taking her for a stroll around the aquarium.
The exotic reptile, which can reach up to two metres in length when fully grown, was rehomes at the aquarium after her owner could no longer look after her.
Just like humans, iguanas need vitamin D to keep them fit and healthy and the walks allow Rosie to enjoy a bit of sunbathing – weather permitting. The walks also ensure her claws do not grow too big.
“We’ve got a special harness which allows us to take Rosie for a wander around the displays and let her fully explore her home,” said Blue Reef’s Jenna MacFarlane. “As well as being good excersise for the iguanas, it’s also proving to be quite an encounter for the visitors,” she added.
The Green Iguana is known throughout its native South America as the ‘tree chicken’ as both flesh and eggs of the iguana are considered a delicacy.
Green Iguanas are primarily herbivores, feeding on leaves, flowers, fruit, and plants.
They are often found perched on branches overhanging rivers and when threatened will plunge into the water for safety. Although they spend much of their time motionless they are also extremely good climbers.
Green Iguanas have an organ on the top of their heads called a parietal eye. Although it can not form images this ‘eye’ is sensitive to changes in light and dark and can detect movement which helps detect birds of prey and other potential predators stalking it from above.