September 8 is Iguana Awareness Day! While we usually talk about pet iguanas, we do also have wild ones here in the Sunshine State. A Fort Myers, FL vet discusses Iggy in this article.
The iguana you’re likely to find here in Florida is the green iguana which, despite the name, isn’t always green. Iggy gets quite large: it isn’t uncommon for adults to be six feet long. They can also live 20 years, which is plenty of time to wreak havoc.
While many reptiles are native to Florida, iguanas are invasive. Most likely, Iggy hopped a ride on Cuban boats back in the 60’s. Iguanas also became popular pets in the 80’s. Unfortunately, many people adopted the lizards without realizing how big they get, and ended up releasing them. Because they are so well-suited to our tropical environment, the lizards flourished, and can now be found all over central and south Florida.
Though iguanas aren’t as dangerous to the environment as the anacondas that are wreaking havoc in the Everglades, they aren’t exactly beneficial. They destroy gardens and landscaping, and can also damage sidewalks, sea walls, fences, and even roofs.
Most wild iguanas are quite timid, and will only attack if stressed or provoked. However, they can get feisty when it’s time for them to mate. A bite from a full-grown, angry iguana is no joke: these guys can cause serious injuries.
We would advise against touching iguanas unless it’s absolutely necessary. However, if for some reason you do touch a wild iguana, wash your hands thoroughly right away. Iguanas may carry salmonella.
Iguanas are protected by anti-cruelty laws, so it is illegal (and cruel) to harm or kill them. If your property is being overrun, try hanging windchimes: iguanas don’t like noise, so this may scare them off. Sprinklers may also help. If those fail, contact a professional iguana remover.
Every so often, we get a cold snap, and temperatures drop enough to render iguanas immobile. Because they are cold-blooded, they get their heat from the environment. When it gets too cold, they lose the ability to move, and can fall out of trees.
Do you have questions about iguana care? Contact us, your local Fort Myers, FL pet hospital, today!