- Record-breaking heat in Florida is attracting green iguanas, so much so that homeowners are now encouraged to kill the invasive species on their property.
- Green iguanas are not native to Florida and are considered an invasive species. The reptile is not protected under the state’s anti-cruelty law.
- “Iguanas can also be killed year-round and without a permit on 22 public lands in south Florida,” according to the FWC.
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The onset of summer in Florida is not only bringing record-breaking heat, but also a slew of iguanas.
University of Florida biologist Joseph Wasilewski, who has studied iguanas for 40 years, believes climate change may be contributing to issue.
“It’s warming things up and allowing them to go further north,” he told The Washington Post.
Homeowners are even encouraged to “kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible,” according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Green iguanas are not native to Florida and are considered an invasive species. The reptile is known to damage footpaths and seawalls, as well as ruin landscaping by digging and eating plants. The animal is not protected under the state’s anti-cruelty law.
“Iguanas can also be killed year-round and without a permit on 22 public lands in south Florida,” according to the FWC.
FWC Commissioner Rodney Barreto did issue a word of caution for residents, saying that “if you are not capable of safely removing iguanas from your property, please seek assistance from professionals who do this for a living.”
Green iguanas were first spotted in Florida in the 1960s, according to FWC, but their recent increase in numbers is likely due to climate change, the Post reported.
“I’d suggest homeowners use professional removal services rather than having people go out and start shooting like it’s the wild, wild West,” Wasilewski told the Post. “But if we don’t do something soon, they could literally take over.”
Bob Lugari, a new Florida resident formerly from California, said in an interview with The Post that he initially thought the iguanas were “adorable” and looked “tropical.”
“I never had iguanas in California, and I thought, this is part of the Florida experience,” Lugari told The Post. “I should embrace this.”
But after he found destroyed plants and iguana excrement around his property, his feelings for the iguanas began to sour.
“They aren’t cute anymore,” Lugari said to the Post. “They’re a menace.”
Male and female green iguanas can grow to over five feet in length; males can weight up to 17 pounds and females typically don’t exceed seven pounds, according to the FWC.
Mating season for the iguanas extends from October to November, and females burrow egg chambers that “may contain nearly 80 feet of interconnected tunnels and multiple entrances,” according to the FWC.
If iguanas are frequenting your property, the FWC offered suggestions on how to deter the reptiles, including removing plants they like to eat, filling holes to discourage burrowing, hanging wind chimes or other objects that make intermittent noises, hanging CDs with reflective surfaces, or simply spraying the animals with water.