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Invasive Florida Iguanas

Information About Invasive Iguanas In Florida

Floridian Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

Floridian Iguanas

Who wouldn't want to look out their window and see a beautiful large iguana basking in the sun on their back deck? Floridians, that's who!

Iguanas have become a nuisance and destructive pest for local Floridians. As iguanas continue to be released, escape, and breed in Florida, the devastation that they wreak will continue to escalate.

The population of feral iguanas in Florida has continued to grow over the last several years and it has now begun to set in that iguanas are here to stay.

Where They Come From

As many know, iguanas are not a native species of Florida. Many of the iguanas found in Florida today are the offspring of iguanas that were freed during destructive hurricanes, escaped from their owners or were intentionally released when they became too large for the owner to handle. Since South Florida is very similar to their native habitats climate, those iguanas were able to breed successfully and thrive in their new environment.

Damage

While many consider iguanas to be beautiful animals, the damage a lizard the size of an iguana can do can be substantial. Iguanas are folivores. They like to eat plants, flowers, leaves, and almost any other vegetation they encounter. Unfortunately for Floridians this includes their vegetable gardens, shrubs, trees, fruits, and flower patches. Iguanas do not discriminate. If it is edible, it will likely be eaten.

Iguanas are a basking species of lizard. Preferring high ground, iguanas often defecate on the ground below their basking spots. As a result, the ground is littered with their droppings which can be a contractual source of salmonella, a bacteria associated with food poisoning. If they choose to bask above your deck, car or driveway, the fecal matter can also be an eye sore as well as odorous.

Female iguanas dig burrows when they are nesting. They prefer to lay their eggs below ground in these burrows and this can cause structural damage to retaining walls, sea walls, home foundations and sidewalks as the iguanas undermine them for laying sites.

The iguana itself has the ability to cause damage to both people and other pets. Iguanas are very powerful and when they feel threatened will go on the defensive. Their nails and teeth can wreak destruction on an intended victim. Their powerful tails can whip forward lacerating their target.

As an introduced species into an ecosystem, iguanas have the ability to severely disrupt it.

Dealing

It is doubtful that Florida will ever rid itself of the green iguana invasion. From what time thus far has shown, the green iguanas are here to stay. What does that mean for those who are now forced to live with them? It means they are forced to either deal with the iguanas or face moving from their current locations.

You have a few options available if you are one of the Floridians dealing with the iguanas.

--- Embrace Them

Iguanas are beautiful animals. Look at them like you would any other animal and appreciate their beauty. This doesn't mean you need to invite them to stay but rather accept them and embrace them in your daily life opposed to trying to eradicate them. This type of acceptance will relive you of stress and help you to see how beautiful they actually are.


Note

It is not a good idea to feed wild iguanas. This will entice the iguanas to stay and may even attract more iguanas. You may have accepted them into your life but that doesn't mean your neighbors feel the same way. Appreciate the ones that visit your yard on occasion but limit the interaction to watching from a distance.


--- Deter Them

If your yard isn't as inviting to an iguana as your neighbors yard may be, they will be less inclined to hang around. Unfortunately for you this may require some sacrifices on your part.

--- Cover Them

Gardens and other plants you cherish may need to be covered with screened enclosures. Iguanas can't eat what they can't reach.

--- Surround Them

In order to bask on the trees in your yard the iguana needs to be able to climb that tree. Sheet metal, Plexiglas, lexan and smooth plastic can be placed around the trees base to prevent climbing. If they can't get into the trees in your yard they will move on to others they can access.

--- Clean It Up

Avoid leaving out any natural shelter for an iguana. If you find iguanas enjoy basking on or around wood piles or rock piles in your yard, clean it up. If you remove the items that are attracting the iguanas they will leave and find more hospitable locations.

Break The Cycle

In order for iguanas to continue to thrive they must reproduce. It isn't very difficult to locate iguana nesting sites if you have witnessed them digging it. Once the iguana has covered her eggs and has left the area, you should dig the eggs up and freeze them. Freezing them will kill any developing embryos and the eggs can them be discarded. Ziploc bags are great ways to dispose of the frozen eggs. Every nest that you clear will prevent those iguanas from becoming the next generation that inhabits your yard.

Floridian Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

Remove Them

Live traps are legal for use in Florida and are a great means to ridding your yard of an iguana or 2 that has decided to make residence there. Live traps baited with mango, melon or grapes that has been placed along a known route of travel can be very effective. Once captured you will have to dispose of the iguana, as releasing it somewhere else is not an option. It is illegal to release iguanas in Florida even if they were captured from the wild. This leaves you with a few options.

If you so desire you can keep the iguana as a pet. In doing so you will be required to read the care guide on this site to understand what will be required of you to create a quality environment for the iguana.

You can also try to place them with an adoption agency. This will be difficult to do since so many of the adoptions agencies are already caring for so many iguanas. It doesn't hurt to try though.

Most cases will require the trapped iguanas to be humanely euthanized. Euthanasia should be done by a qualified professional so we won't offer any advice on how to destroy an unwanted iguana. Contact your local wildlife center for euthanasia locations.


Compassion

Invasive Florida Iguanas (Iguana iguana) The iguana problem in Florida is a mixed result of destructive weather, irresponsible owners and escapees. These iguanas did not ask to be released and are living beings. If termination is required, please think with your heart and have it done humanely.

Attribution

Author: Richard Brooks
Floridian Iguana © Dominika Durtan [CC-BY-SA-3.0]
Floridian Iguana 2 © Daniel Schwen [CC-BY-SA-4.0]