12 Smallest Iguana Species – Explore These Little Legends

Iguanas can be great pets, but their enclosure size requirements can be overwhelming. Average iguanas require almost an entire room all to themselves! Additionally, they can be challenging to carry around because of their size and weight.

If you are looking for a smaller reptile to call your own that won’t take up too much room in your house, here are twelve species you can consider.

Some small iguana species great for pets are several dwarf iguana species, several spiny-tailed iguana species, the desert Iguana, Fiji banded iguana, and the Jamaican iguana. You can also consider several close Iguana cousins, the Anole and Chuckwalla.

Read on to learn about each one!

Overview: 12 Small Iguana Species

SizeCostUnique Feature
Amazon dwarf iguana12-16 inchesRare**Tall crest spines
Cofan dwarf iguana9.6 inchesRareTerrestrial, but sleeps on trees
Spiny dwarf iguana12.8 inchesRareUnique markings beneath eyes and above arms
Blue-throated dwarf iguana12 inchesRareBluish patch on their throat
Yucatan spiny-tailed iguana5-10 inches$500Tri-colored lizard: green, black, and red!
Black-chested spiny tail9.5-12.5$500Pale bodies with black chests
Club-tailed Iguana10-14 inches$25-50Five rings of spines on their tails
Desert iguana10-16 inches$50+Numerous horizontal brown rings on their tails
Fiji banded iguana7.5 inchesRareBright green color with bluish bands
Jamaican iguana15-17 inchesRareLoose folds of skin
Bark Anole*5 inches$13-25Has perfect camouflage against tree bark
Chuckwalla*16 inches$200Prominent belly, flat midsection

*Close iguana cousins

**Rare species are seldom listed online and must be found directly through breeders. Since they are rare, they may be costly.

12 Small Iguana Species 

three small iguanas on daytime

Green iguanas are one of the most popular species of pet iguanas. Unfortunately, they are only an option for those with plenty of room since these lizards grow up to five feet long!

Thankfully, there are smaller iguana species available. Here is a list of iguana species that do not go beyond two feet long, including their tail.

Dwarf Iguanas or Wood Lizards (Genus Enyalioides)

Dwarf Iguana or Wood Lizard (Genus Enyalioides) on owner's palm

Dwarf iguanas, also known as wood lizards, hail from Central and South America. Most only grow up to a foot long, though some reach a foot and a half.

Here is a quick look at twelve species of dwarf iguanas.

Amazon dwarf iguana (Enyalioides laticeps)

Amazon dwarf iguanas (Amazon wood lizards) grow 12-16 inches long. 

Hailing from Ecuador, these iguanas have smooth tails and a pale stripe that runs from the corner of their mouths to their ears–like an extension of their smile!

These lizards have a crest that runs from the back of their heads through the length of their bodies. However, particularly at the beginning of the crest, their spines are noticeably taller than most other iguana species.

Cofan Dwarf Iguana (Enyalioides cofanorum

Cofan dwarf iguanas (Cofan wood lizards) are typically 9.6 inches long. They are commonly found in the Amazonian lowlands of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Despite being primarily terrestrial lizards, they sleep on stems and tree trunks 16-60 inches above the ground at night for safety!

Spiny Dwarf Iguana (Enyalioides heterolepis)

The spiny dwarf iguana (spiny wood lizard) stops growing at 12.8 inches.

They have distinct similar markings that no other dwarf iguanas have: a dark triangle-shaped mark beneath their eyes and a pale vertical line above their arms.

When confronted by a predator, this species darts into holes or logs, but if left with no choice, it inflicts a prolonged, painful bite on its attacker.

Blue-throated Dwarf Iguana (Enyalioides microlepis)

As their name suggests, blue-throated dwarf iguanas (blue-throated wood lizards) have bluish patches on their throats. These typically grow about 12 inches long.

Among all dwarf iguana species, they are most closely related to the Cofan dwarf iguana. Its crest running down its back is made of enlarged spiny scales, not spines.

Spiny-Tailed Iguanas (Genus Ctenosaura)

Spiny-Tailed Iguanas (Genus Ctenosaura) on tree brach inside enclosure

Spiny-tailed iguanas from the genus Ctenosaura have tails covered in spines they use to defend themselves. They are native to Mexico and Central America’s hot, dry areas.

This genus holds the record for the fastest-running species of lizard. In particular, the Black spiny-tailed iguana has a maximum sprint speed of 21.5mph!

Many spiny-tailed iguanas are now being bred in captivity and sold as pets in the US. Here are three small spiny-tailed iguana options.

Yucatan spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura defensor)

The Yucatan spiny-tailed iguana is the smallest on this list, only growing 5-10 inches. Despite its small size, it’s an expensive pet averaging around $500 online!

The lizard has three colors: a greenish base scale color, a broad black band (or several thick black stripes) across its chest area, and a wide reddish band around its stomach area.

Black-chested spiny-tailed iguanas (Ctenosaura melanosterna)

Black-chested spiny-tailed iguanas grow 9.5 to 12.5 inches long and weigh only a few pounds. Their bodies are pale, marked only by their distinct black chests. They can typically be bought for around $500.

This species is endemic to Honduras.

Club-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura quinquecarinata

Club-tailed iguanas are popular pets Captive bred ones are available for only $25-50, but imported ones can cost upwards of $500. They are also easily handled since they only grow 10-14 inches long.

Unfortunately, beyond their size, they can be challenging pets! They are aggressive, move fast, give powerful bites, and need a large enclosure to roam.

Beginners may want to start with more docile iguana species, such as the Cuban iguana and rhinoceros iguana.

Club-tailed iguanas are also known as the Oaxacan spiny-tail iguana or the five-keeled spiny-tailed iguana because of their five heavy, horizontal spine rings that form ridges along its tail.

However, they should not be confused with another subspecies, the Ctenosaura oaxacana.

Desert iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis)

Desert iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) on owner's palm

Desert iguanas are tan and brown lizards with blunt heads and long tails. Their recorded size of 10-16 inches is usually mostly their tail!

Their body has dark scales with pale dots, while their tails are typically light-colored with numerous dark brown horizontal rings.

This iguana thrives in hot, desert environments.

Fiji banded iguana (Brachylophus fasciatus)

Fiji Banded Iguana (Brachylophus Fasciatus) on rocks

Fiji banded iguanas are bright, emerald-green iguanas with wide bands of pale blue across their body. They are small lizards, only growing 7.5 inches on average.

Fiji banded iguanas are endemic to wet forests on the Fijian islands. They are arboreal and spend most of their time high up in trees.

Editor’s Note
As of the writing of this article, Fiji banded iguanas are endangered and may not be legal to own as a pet in the US.

Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei)

Jaimaican iguanas are also known as Colley’s iguana. Though the largest on this list at 15-17 inches, they are still much smaller than most other iguana species that grow 4-7 feet long.

They are predominantly brown with loose skin folds, though they may sometimes have bluish and yellowish blotches. This species also has a crest of spines running down its back and tail.

Editor’s Note
As of the writing of this article, Jamaican iguanas are endangered and may not be legal to own as a pet in the US.

Small Iguana Cousins

Bark Anole (Anolis Distichus) on log

Iguanas aren’t the only members of the Iguanidae family. They are very closely related to anoles and chuckwallas.

Here are some small Iguana cousins.

Bark Anole (Anolis distichus)

Bark anoles are also known as North Caribbean bark anoles or Hispaniolan gracile anoles. They are small reptiles, only growing 5 inches long!

They have brown, streaky bodies, perfectly suited for camouflage against tree bark. However, some bark anoles have grey or green bodies instead. 

Male bark anoles have colorful dewlaps, which can be red, light green, or other colors.

Bark anoles are found in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and Florida.

Common Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater)

Common chuckwallas measure 16 inches long, half of which is their tail length. They are found in arid areas of the southwestern US and northern Mexico.

These lizards have flattened midsections, prominent bullies, and loose skin folds. Their long tails are characterized by their blunt tips. 

When chased by predators, these reptiles lodge inside rock crevices and puff their bodies with air to secure themselves!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Size Enclosure Do Small Iguanas Need?

Anoles will be happy in small 20-gallon tanks. 

Iguanas will always need big areas to accommodate their temperature gradient requirements.

For example, the small Yucatan spiny-tailed iguana (5-10 inches long) will need an enclosure of at least 3’L x 1.5’W x 3’H. Though still large, this is significantly smaller than the enclosure requirements of a full-grown green iguana!

How Long Until Iguanas Grow To Full Size?

Iguanas typically reach their full adult size by the time they are three years old.


Not all iguanas grow up to 7 feet long–some stop growing at 7 inches.

However, being a slightly less common species, you may need to spend a little more to acquire these lizards.

Still, you’ll save money with their smaller enclosures and diets, so it may all work out in the end!

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