Recent observation has concluded that Charlotte County Florida has new exotic and invasive residents. These residents include the common
black spiny-tailed iguana
Mexican spiny-tailed iguana
). Their inhabitation of south Florida is believed to be a result of accidental importation on ships, as well as pet iguanas escaping or being released. Subsequently, these reptiles have established breeding groups and proliferated very successfully in the subtropical climate of south west Florida.
Why are iguanas a problem?
Iguanas are not native to Florida and as with many exotic plants and animals introduced into new areas; they have the potential to impact native plants and animals. Iguanas reproduce rapidly in the subtropical climate of south Florida and have no natural predators to control their population. Iguanas will out-compete native species for food resources as well as shelter and have been documented displacing native gopher tortoises in burrows. Iguanas can also potentially carry parasites and bacteria that can be spread to native species that have no natural resistance to foreign pathogens.
Do not release unwanted iguanas into the wild. This is not only illegal
(68A-4.005 Florida Administrative Code)
but can have long lasting impacts beyond the life of the released individual reptile. In the event you can no longer care for your iguana check with people you know to see if they are interested, advertise in your local paper or contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1.888.404.3922 and ask about
pet amnesty programs
near you. If these options are not available to you contact your local humane society or local pet store.