Florida is known for its lush landscape and pristine beaches. And people flock to Florida every year, all year, to experience all Florida has to offer. Clearly, the diverse culture, marshes and swamps, historical treasures, and beautiful beaches draw visitors and make them want to stay. But why are green iguanas bad for Florida when they seem so docile?
Unfortunately, Florida has some unwelcomed guests as well. But, these are the invasive animal species that are destroying much of what Florida is all about.
Keep reading to learn why the green iguanas are bad for Florida and its delicate ecosystem.
Getting to Know the Green Iguana
If you have ever encountered a full-grown adult, you will know they get huge. Iguanas can grow to more than 5 feet in length and weigh up to 17 pounds. They can be green, brown, blackish, and even have an orange or pink tint during a specific time of the year.
These iguanas have neck, back, and upper tail spikes with dark rings on the tail. And green iguanas can live up to 10 years in the wild but 19 years in captivity.
You can see these iguanas in urban areas, suburban developments, agricultural areas, and even small towns. In other words, they could survive all over Florida. They roam and hang out on the ground, in shrubs and in trees.
Furthermore, they are great swimmers in both saltwater and freshwater. They may even take a dip in your home swimming pool.
You should note that iguanas are not aggressive and will not intentionally harm humans or pets. The damage is done because they are non-natives, and they are spreading rapidly.
Florida Distribution of the Green Iguana
The green iguanas are initially from Central America to South America and some of the eastern Caribbean islands. However, they were found to be in Florida in the 1960s.
Coral Gables, Hialeah, Key Biscane, and Miami-Dade’s southern coast have a large population that has spread throughout most of Florida.
Now, they are not cold tolerant. So, they will probably not venture any further north. Also, if Florida was to get a really lovely cold snap, we may thin the population. (But don’t hold your breath!)
The Impact Green Iguanas Have on Florida
Did you know over 500 non-native plant and animal species have been brought into Florida? Unfortunately, they are messing up the delicately balanced ecosystem. You see, each location for an animal was created to sustain that animal’s life and assist in the circle of life surrounding it. So, each plant and animal serves a purpose for the ecosystem in which it lives. Thus, when a new species throws that balance off, the system will not thrive with its original intention.
And green iguanas are no exception.
According to theguardian.com,
“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has ruled that within the next few weeks the breeding and dealing of 16 of the most ecologically damaging non-native species must be brought to a halt. The ban will apply to several types of pythons that have proliferated to crisis point in the Everglades, as well as all types of tegu lizards, anacondas, Nile monitor lizards and green iguanas.”
Green iguanas have increased in number in the state of Florida since they were first seen here in 1960. Here are just some of the damage they created to our state.
- Damage landscaping
- Damage crops
- Puncture seawalls
- Tear up sidewalks
- Dig under houses
- Crawl into sewers
- Hang out on roofs and in trees
- Leave droppings most anywhere
- Threaten the endangered tree snails and the Miami Blue butterfly
- And they carry Salmonella.
The Invasive Species of Florida
The animals listed below are only a few of Florida’s invasive species. Sadly, there are aquatic and flora invaders as well. Each one does its fair share of damage, just like the animals listed below.
- The Burmese Python is one of the top invasive species in Florida. These constrictors were once pets, then were released due to their enormous growth and adult size. Of Course, living in Florida is optimal for the python as there are no predators, and the warm climate suits it well. However, the pythons are increasing in large numbers and are wreaking havoc on our Florida wildlife. When they prey on deer, our endangered birds, frogs, and native snakes, it upsets life balance.
- Cats are not usually thought of as invasive, but they indeed are. Outdoor cats and feral cat colonies will take over an area spreading rabies and parasites to start. Cats will eat up to 100 birds per year, placing a huge dent in an area’s bird population.
- Cane Toads are another invasive species. These warm-weather toads are dangerous to our pets. Sadly, If a dog bites a cane toad, the toad will release a toxic substance. Furthermore, this secretion can cause seizures in dogs and other animals. Also, cane toads will eat insects, fish, native frogs, and even pet food.
- Cuban Tree Frogs have become the bane of homeowners’ existence in some areas. Brought in on cargo ships, these frogs are very loud and can even disturb your evening’s rest. And they eat native frogs and snakes.
- Feral Hogs weigh several hundred pounds and are incredibly aggressive. They breed at an alarming rate and root up plants and gardens. Reports say that the wild hogs steal around $800 million in agriculture per year.
- Fire Ants will attack anything they encounter on the ground. Baby animals, birds, and sea turtles are in the most danger. The ants will damage crops as well. And, did you know the venom they deliver is as toxic as the venom injected by a cobra?
- Green Iguanas are known to be all over south Florida in numbers. As they make their way further north, these spiny lizards do extensive damage. They are messy, leaving their excrement everywhere, and they will burrow under the foundation of a home or building.
What You Can Do to Help Cut Down on Invasive Species in Florida
There are always things residents of Florida can do to help keep our homes, neighborhoods, and ecosystems free of unwanted pests. Here are a few suggestions to get you on your way to helping with the problem in your area.
- When you leave Florida for vacation, do not return with fruit, veggies, flowers, nuts, firewood, or soil. All these things can have a non-native pest hiding in them.
- Try planting only native plants in your region. Remember, the land contains the perfect design for the plants and animals initially located in an area.
- Most importantly, if you can no longer keep up with a pet, find a rescue that will help remove the pet from your home and safely relocate it. Never release a pet into the wild.
World Class Wildlife Removal for Green Iguanas
Some people are against harming green iguana since they are exotic and do no intentional harm. But there is no doubt, they cause damage to the balance of Florida’s natural state. So, whether you are dealing with a green iguana, a tiny ant, or a massive invasive animal species, you can count on World Class Wildlife Removal to assist you in your plight to remove the pest once and for all.
Contact World Class Wildlife Removal to report green iguanas on sight.