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The animal on the cover of PHP Cookbook, Second Edition, is a Galapagos land iguana (Conolophus subcristatus). Once abundant in the Galapagos Islands, this iguana proved tasty to the settlers of the early 1800s, and domestic animals later introduced on the islands played further havoc with the reptile's home and food supply. Today there are no iguanas left on Santiago Island and very few left on the other islands.
Distantly related to the green iguana of the South American continent, Galapagos land iguanas can be over three feet long, with males weighing up to 30 pounds. Their tough, scaly skin is yellow with scattered patches of white, black, brown, and rust. These lizards resemble mythical creatures of the past'dragons with long tails, clawed feet, and spiny crests. In reality, however, they are harmless.
Land iguanas live in the drier areas of the islands and in the morning are found basking in the sun. During midday, however, they seek the shade of cactus, rocks, and trees. To conserve body heat at night, they sleep in burrows dug in the ground.
These reptiles are omnivores, but they generally depend on low-growing plants and shrubs, as well as the fallen fruits and pads of cactus trees. These plants provide most of the moisture they need; however, they will drink fresh water whenever it's available.
Depending on their size, land iguanas reach maturity between 8 and 15 years of age. They congregate and mate during specific periods, which vary from island to island. The females then migrate to suitable areas to nest. After digging a burrow, the female lays 2 to 20 eggs in the nest. She then defends the covered nest site to prevent other females from nesting in the same spot.
Young iguanas hatch 85 to 110 days later and take about a week to dig their way out of the nest. Normally, if hatchlings survive the first year when food is often scarce and native predators such as hawks, egrets, herons, and snakes are a danger, they can live for more than 60 years. In reality, predation by feral cats is far worse because the young must survive and grow for at least three to four years before becoming large enough that cats can't kill them.
The cover image is a 19th-century engraving from the Dover Pictorial Archive. The cover font is Adobe ITC Garamond. The text font is Linotype Birka; the heading font is Adobe Myriad Condensed; and the code font is LucasFont's TheSans Mono Condensed.