This reptile species is found extensively distributed in areas of Central America and South America, from Mexico to the North of Argentina or the warm Caribbean Islands, living in high and dense vegetation with high humidity levels.
The colour may vary based upon its sex, mood, temperature, health, or social status. Additionally, such colour alteration may aid these animals in thermoregulation. In the morning, their skin colour is darker, helping the lizard to absorb heat from sunlight then, during the hotter times of the day, these animals become lighter to minimize the heat absorbed.
This lizard grows to 1.5 meters in length from head to tail and its weight oscillates between 3 and 5 kg, but some can reach up to 8 kg. Their skin is covered with scales with a characteristic dorsal crest that runs from the head to the tail base, more prominent in males than females.