Fiji crested iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis)

Fiji crested iguana sitting on branch
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Fiji crested iguana fact file

Fiji crested iguana description

GenusBrachylophus (1)

The Fiji crested iguana is a large stocky lizard, which was first discovered in 1979 (4). Dr John Gibbons found the iguana whilst researching the, more common, banded iguana (B. fasciatus) that is also found on the Fijian islands (5). The crested iguana is green with three narrow white bands crossing its back, whilst the bands of the banded iguana are much broader and are blue in colour (5). The crested iguana is also much larger than its close relative and has distinct crest spines along its back that can be up to 1.2 centimetres long (5). A further distinction between the two species occurs when the iguanas are aroused; the crested iguana is able to change colour very rapidly from green to black (5).

Iguane à crête de Fidji.
Iguana Crestada De Fiji.
Length: 75 cm (2)
300 g (2)

Fiji crested iguana biology

The breeding season usually occurs between March and April (2), with courtship and mating usually commencing in January (7). Crested iguanas have one of the longest incubation periods of any reptile (over eight months) and females guard the nest, which contains around four eggs, during this time (5). Hatchlings emerge from their eggs in the rainy season and obtain moisture by licking wet leaves (5).

Crested iguanas are herbivorous feeding on trees and shrubs, particularly hibiscus flowers of the Vau tree (Hibiscus tiliaceus) (5).


Fiji crested iguana range

Restricted to the dryer, northwest islands of Fiji: Yaduataba, Monuriki and the Yasawa group (6).


Fiji crested iguana habitat

Inhabits small pockets of beach forest on primarily uninhabited islands (5).


Fiji crested iguana status

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

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered


Fiji crested iguana threats

Iguanas are often feared by local people and are therefore treated with little tolerance (5). The main threat to survival of the crested iguana however, comes from habitat destruction. Particular devastation is caused by introduced goats, which were brought to Fiji in an effort improve the quality of life of local people (5). Goats have been released on fairly uninhabited islands where they graze on native trees and shrubs, making these tropical paradises uninhabitable for iguanas (5).


Fiji crested iguana conservation

The National Trust for Fiji (assisted by Taronga Zoo, Sydney, and the Kula Eco Park in Fiji) has worked for many years to preserve this enigmatic lizard (5). Yaduataba Island was cleared of goats in 1981 and declared a national sanctuary; today it is home to several thousand crested iguanas (5). A three year Fijian Crested Iguana Project has also been formulated by the Taronga Zoo, Kula Eco Park, Fijian National Trust and other organisations (8). Educational programmes and research along with a captive breeding programme are all part of this multi-faceted conservation initiative (5).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For more information on the Fiji crested iguana see:



Authenticated (30/6/03) by Chris Banks. Curator of Herpetofauna, Melbourne Zoo.



  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2008)
  2. Australia Zoo (March, 2008)
  3. CITES (October, 2002)
  4. Pregill, G.K. and Steadman, D.W. (2004) South Pacific Iguanas: Human Impacts and a New Species. Journal of Herpetology, 38(1): 15 - 21.
  5. International Conservation Fund for the Fijian Crested Iguana (ICFFCI) (May, 2002)
  6. Harlow, P.S., Fisher, M., Tuiwawa, M., Biciloa, P.N., Palmeirim, J.M., Mersai, C., Naidu, S., Naikatini, A., Thaman, B., Niukula, J. and Strand, E. (2007) The decline of the endemic Fijian crested iguana Brachylophus vitiensis in the Yasawa and Mamanuca archipelagos, western Fiji. Oryx, 41: 44 - 50.
  7. Zug, G.R. (1991) The Lizards of Fiji: Natural History and Systematics. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu.
  8. Fijian Crested Iguana Project (July, 2006)

Image credit

Fiji crested iguana sitting on branch  
Fiji crested iguana sitting on branch

© Gary Bell /

Oceanwide Images - Gary Bell
PO Box 280
NSW 2452
Tel: +61 (2) 6658 5657
Fax: +61 (2) 6658 5659


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