Dealing with Invasive Iguanas in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide

Invasive iguanas are becoming more of a problem in Florida. They are hurting native ecosystems and putting people in danger. The most common place to find these big reptiles, which can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh up to 15 pounds, is in South Florida, especially in cities and suburbs. With a long, spiny tail, a crest of spines running down their backs, and green or brown scales, these iguanas are not to be taken lightly.

Many people believe that the invasive iguanas in Florida are the offspring of pet iguanas that escaped or were released into the wild. In the past, it was common for people to release their pet iguanas when they became too large or difficult to care for, leading to the establishment of an invasive population in Florida that has been expanding in recent years.

The impacts of these invasive iguanas are significant. They eat a wide range of plants, causing damage to landscapes and gardens. They can also alter the behavior of native species and disrupt the balance of ecosystems. In addition, they pose a risk to human safety, particularly in urban and suburban areas where they come into close contact with people. They can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans, and their sharp claws and teeth can cause injuries. And let’s not forget the nuisance factor – iguanas can cause property damage as well.

So, what can be done about these iguanas in Florida that are taking over the area? Prevention is key. Getting rid of places where they can get food and shelter, like bird feeders and feeding stations, and sealing any holes or gaps in fences or walls can help stop them from moving in. If there is already an invasive iguana population, trained professionals may need to use humane traps or their own hands to catch and remove the animals. However, they can only do this if they have the right permits from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Iguanas that have been caught should not be put back into the wild because this can help the invasive population grow. Instead, they should be killed in a humane way or given to a licensed animal rehabber or sanctuary.

In Florida, it is illegal to possess, sell, or release non-native species, including invasive iguanas, without a permit. It is also illegal to kill or harm an iguana without a valid reason, such as self-defense or property protection.

To manage invasive iguanas on your own property, you can remove sources of food and shelter, seal openings and gaps in fences and walls, and consider installing barriers such as chicken wire or mesh around the base of trees and plants. If you spot an iguana on your property, do not try to capture or kill it yourself – contact a licensed professional or the FWC for assistance.

It’s important to be aware of the risks and impacts of invasive iguanas in Florida and take steps to prevent and manage these animals in a humane and responsible way. By following the rules set out by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and taking the right precautions, we can help protect our native ecosystems and lower the risks that invasive iguanas pose in Florida.

There are a few other strategies that can also be effective in managing invasive iguanas in Florida:

  • Use repellents: Commercial repellents containing natural or synthetic scents that are unpleasant to iguanas can be applied to plants, fences, and other areas where iguanas may be present.
  • Fence off vulnerable areas: If you have a garden or other area that is particularly attractive to iguanas, consider installing a fence or other barrier to keep them out. Chicken wire or mesh can be effective, as long as it is installed properly and maintained regularly.
  • Use habitat modification: If you have a pond or other body of water on your property, consider modifying the habitat to make it less attractive to iguanas. This can include removing excess vegetation, installing barriers, or introducing natural predators such as snakes or alligators.
  • Participate in a trapping program: Many communities in Florida have established programs to trap and remove invasive iguanas from public areas. By participating in these programs, you can help to reduce the population of iguanas in your community and prevent them from causing further damage.

It’s important to remember that these strategies should only be implemented by trained professionals or with the proper permits. In addition, it’s important to follow all local laws and guidelines when dealing with invasive species. By working together and taking a responsible approach, we can help to control the population of invasive iguanas in Florida and protect our native ecosystems.

If invasive iguanas are a problem on your property or in your neighborhood, don’t be afraid to ask for help from the FWC or a licensed professional. With the right tools and knowledge, we can work to protect Florida’s ecosystems from these animals and do a good job of managing them.

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