Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Green Iguanas | Pest, Not Pets

The green iguana (iguana iguana) is large non-native lizard, usually bright green, with colors ranging from green to brown to almost black. During breeding season, some adults take on an orange or pinkish coloration.

Green iguanas have a row of spikes down the center of the neck, back and upper portion of the tail and have a dark ring on their tail. Mature iguanas have a throat fan (dewlap) which serves to warn or repel predators.

Pets Gone Wild

It is believed that green iguanas first appeared in Florida in the 1960s as exotic pets which escaped or were released into the environment and their numbers continued to increase. Iguanas are drawn to the same things we love about Southwest Florida: warm and sunny weather, waterfront views with lush vegetation, swimming pools and sunbathing.

They enjoy feasting on our favorite plants and basking on top of seawalls and on tree branches that overhang canals. Any time they are threatened, they just jump in the water and use the canals as an easy way to get around. They are excellent swimmers.

Green iguanas do not have natural predators. Only an unusually long lasting, very cold winter-like temperature can help “trim” the spike in iguana population in Southwest Florida.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website, iguanas are attracted to an area for food, cover and nesting. The website also offers dos and don’ts of shooing iguanas from your property and out of your garden.

Never feed iguanas or leave food out for wildlife. Once you begin to feed them, they will come to rely on you for food and they will tell all their iguana friends.

As herbivores (plant eaters) iguanas love to eat hibiscus, orchids, roses or plants with bright yellow, orange or red flowers or fruits. They stay away from citrus, milkweed or plants with thick tough or waxy leaves.

Iguanas are excellent climbers and can get onto your roof or property by an overhanging “bridge.” Trim branches close to building so they can’t jump over. Remove thickets of vegetation and rock piles where iguanas like to congregate or nest. Fill vacant iguana burrows with sand, rocks or concrete.

FWC suggest installing metal guards around your palms and dock pilings to prevent iguanas from climbing up. Some iguanas may also dig burrows and nest along seawalls, foundation, canal banks or berms. They also leave their droppings on moored boats, decks, porches, and around swimming pools.

The City of Marco Island has a Pest Removal Permit Application for iguana removal. Due to limited funds, the City will pay for one removal per property per calendar year, which constitutes one month of trapping. As soon as one iguana is removed from your property, another will take its place. FWC suggest modifying your landscape to make it unattractive to iguanas.

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