Over years of captive breeding, the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme has helped bring the iconic native species back from the brink of extinction.
Seven baby blue iguanas are ready to take their first steps.
With a gentle nudge, the blue iguana hatchlings are off to the races. A bathtub contains them as they instinctively scramble away from would-be predators.
“A bathtub is not the usual thing that they would see out in the wild, but it is necessary for us to process them and make sure their growth rates are right throughout the whole of their life,” said Blue Iguana Recovery Programme Operations Manager Nick Ebanks. “It really helps us to increase the survival rate.”
With their initial burst of energy depleted, the blue iguana hatchlings can now be processed.
“We’ll give him a little wash and then we can measure him, weigh him, put him in his bag, and basically he gets his ID for most of his life,” said Mr. Ebanks.
The hatchlings will be monitored closely, especially in these crucial early days of life.
“If we left it up to nature we would basically have no control over it, and that is really the only reason why these animals are able to get from gravely endangered, critically endangered, critically extinct, to where they are now,” said Mr. Ebanks.
Mr. Ebanks told Cayman 27 the survival rate for incubated blue iguana hatchlings is typically around 80 to 90 percent. As for this clutch of seven, Mr. Ebanks said it’s entirely possible they will all survive to live long healthy lives.
“From today to the next 25-30 years, we might be hanging on to them and taking care of them, so that’s food and water, personnel, the housing of them, that we have to take into consideration and we are constantly paying for that,” he explained.
He says the National Trust and BIRP are offering blue iguana sponsorships to help select names for these baby blue iguanas and defray long-term care costs.
“It’s technically your iguana that you named, you helped out, so it really does go along way to ensure that we can take care of these animals for the 30 years, and hopefully create new offspring from an animal that you have sponsored,” said Mr. Ebanks.
You may have noticed these hatchlings aren’t yet flying the species’ namesake colour.
Mr. Ebanks said these baby blues will likely be growing into their colour by about the age of two years old.