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Feral Iguanas in South Florida (Information and Helpful Resources)

Green IguanaAccording to the SPCA Wild Life Care Center, wild green iguanas in South Florida are a combination of irresponsible pet owners who could not or did not keep their pets in captivity and their offspring.  Because of Florida’s tropical climate, which is similar to their native habitat of Southern Mexico, Central America, and most of South America, green iguanas have thrived here.  However, they are non-native to Florida, and thereby classified as invasive.  Invasive species, and particularly iguanas, have no balanced position in our ecosystem and no real predators and competitors to keep their numbers in check.  The diet of a Florida wild iguana often includes common backyard shrubs, trees, landscape plants, orchids, hibiscus, and fruits such as figs, berries, mangos and tomatoes.  They do not like citrus. 

Possible Solutions to Feral Iguanas in South Florida
The SPCA Wildlife Care Center and the Green Iguana Society suggest that you attempt to make your yard less iguana-friendly.  Absolutely do not feed the iguanas that come around.  Even if you do not mind their presence, your neighbors might and feeding them will only encourage them to stick around.  The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UFIFAS) also suggests eliminating protective cover such as dense thickets and piles of landscape rocks or wood from your yard.  Another option is to line sheet metal along the base of trees to hinder the iguanas from climbing them and persuade them to move on and out of your yard.  Protect your plants with screens or wire cages.  You can also protect your plants by spraying them with a combination of 3 cloves of garlic and 4 red hot peppers mixed with a bucket of water.  Always cover your pool when it is not in use, as iguanas like to swim and prefer to defecate in or around water.  Another deterrent might be something as simple as owning a dog.  Barking or chasing (of the iguana) by the dog might prompt the iguana to move on. 

If after trying these methods, you are unsuccessful of ridding your yard of green iguanas, you might opt for trapping. Trapping iguanas is legal, but relocating and releasing them is not because of their non-native classification.  If captured, iguanas must be released on-site or humanely euthanized.  Information about different types of traps and snares that can be used is available on the UFIFAS website.   If you make the decision to trap iguanas on your property, you must capture them humanely, confine them humanely, and you must turn them over to the property authorities for humane euthanasia.  Green iguanas are protected by anti-cruelty laws and any attempt at inhumane capture, containment, disposal or inhumane euthanasia is punishable by law.  Remember, you have a legal obligation to exhibit humane treatment at all times. SPCA Wildlife Care Center stresses that a humane euthanasia agent should:  result in death without pain, produce a rapid loss of consciousness, produce a rapid death, be reliable, minimize animal stress, be non-reversible and be safe for personnel.

What to Do If You Find an Injured Iguana

If you find a sick or injured iguana, please call the SPCA Wildlife Care Center at (954) 524-4302 ext. 6 or 10.  Please do not attempt to give the iguana food or water.  Also, please note that often in colder weather iguanas will be found not moving on the concrete or asphalt.  They are cold blooded animals and are trying to soak up as much heat as possible from the concrete or tar.  It is essential that their body temperature warm up in order for normal body processes, such as metabolism and digestion, to occur.  This is not an indication that they are sick or injured.  This is normal behavior.  Please understand that the SPCA Wildlife Care Center is a hospital and will only admit sick or injured iguanasWe are not a removal or trapping service.  However, feel free to call the Admissions department at (954) 524-4302 ext. 6 or 10 with any questions you might have regarding green iguanas.