Jamaican Iguana Symbolism and Meaning

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The Jamaican Iguana, also known as the Green Iguana or Iguana iguana, is a fascinating creature found in the Caribbean island of Jamaica. This reptile holds deep cultural significance for the people who live there. It’s not just about its physical appearance but also the symbolism and meaning it carries with it. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of its symbolism and what it represents.


The Jamaican Iguana is a unique species that has been part of the island’s ecosystem for centuries. It’s not just an ordinary reptile; it holds deep cultural and spiritual significance in the lives of the locals. This article aims to delve into the symbolism and meaning behind this fascinating creature, which goes beyond its physical appearance.

Physical Appearance

The Jamaican Iguana is a large lizard native to Jamaica, with vibrant green skin that can change color depending on its surroundings. It has a long tail, spiky scales, and sharp claws for climbing trees. Its body length ranges from 4-5 feet, while the tail can be twice as long as its body. The most striking feature is its dewlap – a flap of skin under its chin that it uses to communicate with other iguanas or ward off predators. It’s herbivorous and feeds on leaves, fruits, flowers, and seeds.


In Jamaican culture, the iguana symbolizes wisdom, adaptability, and resilience. The green color represents nature’s harmony and balance. Its ability to change colors signifies adaptation and survival skills in different environments. It’s seen as a symbol of resourcefulness due to its dietary habits – it eats what’s available, showing us how to thrive despite limited resources.

Spiritual Significance

In Rastafarian culture, the iguana is considered sacred. They believe it represents the ‘Roots’ aspect of their faith, signifying connection with nature and respect for all living things. It’s also associated with the island’s history and spirituality. The Jamaican Iguana symbolizes strength and determination in overcoming challenges, much like how they climb trees effortlessly despite their size.

Cultural Significance

The iguana is a national symbol of Jamaica. It appears on the country’s coat of arms, representing nature’s balance and harmony. Locals often use it as an emblem for environmental conservation efforts. Its image adorns souvenirs, artworks, and even currency – showcasing pride in their natural heritage.

Meaning in Mythology

In Jamaican folklore, the iguana is believed to bring good luck when spotted. It’s also associated with healing properties, especially for skin ailments. Some believe it can predict weather changes by changing colors before storms. The Iguana is seen as a protector of nature and a symbol of fertility due to its reproductive habits – laying eggs in large numbers.

In Art and Literature

The iguana features prominently in Jamaican art, literature, and music. It’s often depicted in paintings, sculptures, and songs, reflecting the island’s connection with nature. Writers use it as a metaphor for resilience and adaptability.

In Rastafarianism

For Rastafarians, the iguana represents spiritual growth and self-reliance. It’s seen as a symbol of unity, reminding us to live in harmony with nature. They believe it brings prosperity when spotted during ceremonies or rituals.

In Conservation Efforts

The Iguana is endangered due to habitat loss and hunting. Locals are now working towards its conservation, seeing it as a symbol of their responsibility towards preserving biodiversity.


The Jamaican Iguana’s symbolism goes beyond its physical appearance. It represents wisdom, adaptability, resilience, unity, spiritual growth, and environmental protection. Its cultural importance is evident in art, literature, and conservation efforts. This reptile is more than just an animal; it’s a symbol of Jamaica’s identity and connection with nature.

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