Teaching Students About Iguana Venom: Safety, Respect, and Understanding


As educators, it is essential to teach students about the fascinating world of reptiles, including iguanas. One question that often sparks curiosity in young minds is whether these creatures are venomous or not. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to teaching students about iguana venom and its potential dangers.

Understanding Iguanas

Iguanas are herbivorous lizards native to Central and South America, as well as some Caribbean islands. They come in various species, such as green iguanas, marine iguanas, and spiny-tail iguanas, among others.

The Venom Question

For a long time, iguanas were considered non-venomous by the scientific community. However, recent studies have shown that some species carry small amounts of venom. This revelation has changed the perception of these creatures and has further fueled interest in their biology.

Two glands located in the lower jaw called the Duvernoy’s glands, are responsible for producing a mild venom in certain iguana species (Fry et al., 2006). The venom is not harmful to humans but can cause pain and swelling if injected through a bite.

Teaching Strategies

  1. Establish a safe learning environment: When introducing potentially dangerous topics such as venomous creatures, ensure that students understand the importance of safety and respect for all living organisms.
  2. Start with an ice-breaker activity: Begin by asking students what they already know about iguanas or whether they have ever encountered one.
  3. Incorporate multimedia: Show videos or images showcasing different iguana species to help students distinguish between them.
  4. Present recent studies: Discuss the findings of Fry et al.’s study (2006) to highlight the importance of continual research and learning in science, especially related to animal biology.
  5. Organize a debate or discussion: Encourage students to discuss their opinions on whether they think iguanas should still be considered non-venomous or not.
  6. Conduct hands-on activities: If possible, arrange for a visit to a reptile center or have an expert come to your classroom to show students live iguanas safely.
  7. Create informative posters: Have students work in groups to create educational posters on iguanas, emphasizing the topic of venom and its potential effects on humans.


Teaching students about the venomous nature of certain iguana species ensures that they gain a deeper understanding of reptile biology and appreciate the importance of safety when interacting with wildlife. By incorporating engaging discussions and multimedia, educators can instill curiosity and admiration for these beautiful creatures in young minds without causing fear or alarm.

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