Iguanas are a big problem in Florida as they cause damage to the commercial and residential landscape vegetation. Most property owners consider these reptiles as a nuisance.
These animals are mostly attracted to plants with flowers, foliage, or any kind of vegetables, and they destroy them. Moreover, iguanas can damage the infrastructure by digging burrows on the roadside and next to the drainage canals, shorting out power lines, and even leaving their droppings in the outdoor pool areas.
This article provides a comprehensive guide on the iguanas in Florida so keep reading to learn more!
How Did Iguanas Become Invasive Species To Florida?
Iguanas became invasive to Florida due to a combination of certain events.
Ships carrying fruit brought a small population of the iguanas from Central and South America to Florida. Some of the iguanas escaped into the wild and some were adopted as pets by different people. After some time, some of them also found their way into the wild as their owners released them, while others simply escaped from the homes. In their new habitats, these iguanas survived, multiplied, and thrived due to the suitable weather conditions.
While in Florida, these animals often hide in houses in attics, on the beach, they frequently visit lawns and gardens which they tend to destroy. Typically, they use tree leaves and branches as their habitat. But when the nights get unusually cold, the iguanas lose their grip, fall off the tree, and lay on the ground with their belly up.
Types Of Iguanas In Florida
This iguana looks like a typical lizard and it comes in different colors, depending on the season. These colors include pink, black, and brown, while the young ones have a bright green color.
The green iguanas mostly live in shrubs and trees, and they are widespread in Florida, from urban areas to small towns.
The green species is different from the other iguanas as they have spikes that usually go down the spine to their tail area. They may weigh up to 20 pounds for the males and 7 pounds for the females.
Black spiny tail
These iguanas have a separation between their tails and have little or no scales. To differentiate them from the other iguanas, they have a dark band that runs across their body. Also, they have an orange color around their throat and head.
The animal’s weight is between 2.5 and 4.5 pounds for both males and females, and can grow up to 4 feet in length.
Mostly these animals love a rocky environment where they like to burrow and nest. These species love the heat from the sun, thus, they are mainly inhabiting the Southern Florida regions.
Mexican spiny tail
These iguanas are grey-yellow or brown and may have a yellow belly, while the young ones are olive-grey. The species can grow up to a length of 4 feet. The females usually burrow underground where they hide their eggs and protect their young ones. Fruits and flowers of plants are the best foods they enjoy eating.
These species are native to southern Mexico and are mostly found in Southern Florida as the area provides the best conditions for their survival.
How Many Iguanas Are There In Florida, And Where Are The Most Iguanas In Florida?
Iguanas are invasive in most parts of Florida, however, certain parts of the state have the most iguanas.
Statistics from a study by the University of Georgia show that more than 7,000 iguanas currently live in Florida.
Despite being evenly distributed within the Sunshine State, most of these iguanas are found in the south because this area has a subtropical climate so the conditions are suitable for these animals to thrive better and multiply.
Also, apart from human beings, the reptiles lack natural predators in Southern Florida, thus the increase in number.
Why Are Iguanas Bad For Florida And Its Ecosystem?
Iguanas are a real problem for the Florida ecosystem. They are pests that destroy both the commercial and residential landscape in Florida.
They attack and munch on a variety of crops and young plants, where hibiscus and orchids are their apparent favorites. The butterflies in Florida have also declined due to the effects of the iguanas as they attack the flowering plants that these butterflies depend on for the nectar in the flowers. The scientists also blame the iguanas for the extinction of the Miami Blue Butterfly due to the extinction of the flowering plants they depended on.
In addition, these pests present a great challenge for destroying the natural habitat by inhibiting the government’s replanting programs. Also, the iguanas pose a big challenge to the infrastructure in Florida as they tear up the drainage canals. The burrows they dig close to the canals often lead to the collapse of the canals.
Are Florida’s Iguanas Poisonous Or Dangerous? Do They Attack Humans Or Pets?
Iguanas are not known to be dangerous to humans or pets. Although their feces might be a source of salmonella bacteria that causes food poisoning. These reptiles are not aggressive towards and will not hurt humans or pets. Even some species of iguanas will run away when they encounter a person who disrupts their burrowing.
However, they can be dangerous to pets or human beings while defending themselves. They’ll use their sharp teeth to bite either the human or the pet that has attacked them. Their bites are not poisonous but they can cause serious deep cuts due to their sharp and serrated teeth.
In the hot and humid climate and lush landscaping of South Florida, these herbivorous critters multiply exceptionally fast. The majority of homeowners complain about these giant exotic lizards that they do damage.
Thus, if you see an infestation on your property, you must take action as soon as possible. Our team at Wildlife Troopers is highly experienced in controlling and eradicating iguanas in a safe and humane manner. Don’t hesitate to call us today for more information or to schedule a consultation.