Puerto Vallarta is famous for iguanas. It was here that the famous film based on the Tennessee Williams book The Night of the Iguana was filmed. Some people think iguanas were more plentiful during those times but that’s not true. We’ve heard rumors of iguanas disappearing on the Isla Cuale, being eaten my feral cats and street dogs, but that’s not happening either. There actually may be more iguanas in Puerto Vallarta now, due to tourists and ex-pats feeding and protecting them. It’s a fact that construction chases them out of natural habitats but they scurry away once the excavators start and find homes elsewhere, usually very near. Puerto Vallarta is still a jungle. She simply has a city in her middle.
If you see a wild iguana, don’t go after it with a leash, thinking you might have a new pet. They aren’t very domestic and they’ll poop all over your house. If you want to be friendly with them though, just be careful and aware of their needs. They’re not hard to feed; they love mangoes, pineapple and lettuce, but… spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens are hard for them to digest. These greens are excellent for humans so save them for yourselves. They contain oxalates that prevent absorption in the iguana gut by binding with calcium and other trace minerals. So if you’re inclined to share, be cautious to not make them sick.
Though you’re be hard pressed to find it in Puerto Vallarta, Iguana meat is considered somewhat of a delicacy and in places like the Oaxaca coastal area, is common taco meat. Many Mexicans are convinced it will cure the common cold, even if it takes eating iguana for two weeks. They also believe it increases libido. We aren’t sure of either and will stick to chicken and fish, thanks very much.
Though iguanas are herbivores, they also love insects and we have friends in Puerto Vallarta who’ve seen an iguana go after a mouse. Not pretty, but good to know. They have also destroyed many gardens in Puerto Vallarta, so be wary of how easy it is for them to get to such delights as hibiscus, nasturtiums, roses and orchids.
There are plenty of opportunities to take your picture with an iguana in Puerto Vallarta and especially if you venture out to Yelapa, Quimixto and Las Animas. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling this reptile, as you may very likely have exposed yourself to salmonella, a bacteria that is harmless to iguanas but can make us very ill.
Que es cómo es.