Saving Florida from Invasive Species –  a Three Part Series – Series 2:  Iguanas

Saving Florida from Invasive Species – a Three Part Series – Series 2: Iguanas

The Green Iguana is an invasive species that is destroying native wildlife and causing destruction in businesses and homes in South Florida.  You may not think of the iguana as something to hunt, but with no natural predators and an environment that works well for them, it’s up to humans to control their population.  We at Real Men Prey see hunting not just as a sport, but of stewardship of the land. 

Green Iguanas can grow up to 5 ft in length and live up to 10 years in the wild.  The female will create egg chambers that can include close to 80 feet of interconnected tunnels with multiple entrances.  With iguanas being comfortable living in a diverse range of habitats including suburban, urban and rural areas, they can cause serious damage by digging burrows that erode or collapse sidewalks, foundations, seawalls, canal banks and more.  Another reason to work to depopulate their numbers is that they leave droppings EVERYWHERE!  These things go more than the Canada Geese up north!  And their droppings can spread Salmonella to humans.  No one needs that. 

The vast range of colors and sizes that the iguanas exhibit can make it exciting to see what you have at the end of the hunt.  Iguanas can be green, brown or black in color, with the immature ones being a bright green.  They have a big row of cool-looking spikes down the neck and back and black rings on their tail.  Males grow substantial jowls and a dewlap (throat fan) that they use to appear bigger to keep predators away.  Studies have shown that females are more attracted to males with larger dewlaps.  Guess size does matter, even in “iguanaland”. 

An easy-hunting day in South Florida is when the temperature drops below 44 degrees Fahrenheit and the iguanas freeze and fall from the trees.  This never fails to make us laugh.  It is quite the sight to see these guys falling out of trees completely immobile.  Also makes it pretty easy to get rid of some of these critters quickly.  But make no mistake – they are not dead when they fall from trees.  Once it warms up, many jump up and start going again.  So don’t pick one of these frozen guys up on a cold day.  They might just wake up in the process!  Better to kill them quickly before they warm up and scamper away. 

Iguana hunting season is open all year and there are usually no bag limits.  Most often, permits are not needed on public lands either.  Hunting on private land just requires permission from the landowner as iguanas are not protected in Florida except by the anti-cruelty law as they must be humanely killed.  A common method to hunt iguanas in Florida is by using airguns or air pellet rifles.  If you want to make it a little more interesting, try using a blowgun, crossbow or even a pole noose.  Hunters can earn $10 per large adult iguana weighing over 5 lbs and $7 for smaller adults, while hatchlings earn $5.  And if you are willing to try it, iguanas are said to taste like chicken.  Iguana meat is considered a pretty lean meat that is high in protein.  Might wanna play the song Mexican Radio while you throw some on the barbecue……” I wish I was in Tiajuana, Eating barbequed iguana…”

So grab your Real Men Prey Camo Gear and get out there to eradicate some of these destructive iguanas.