Green iguanas and humans
When it comes to pulling up pavements, Godzilla’s got nothing on these guys
“In areas where they are not native they have become a ‘green plague’, wreaking havoc upon the landscape”
In South America, where iguanas are native, locals have kept population sizes under control through hunting them for their meat, sometimes to critically low levels. Conversely, in areas where they are not native, such as Florida, they have become a ‘green plague’, wreaking havoc upon the landscape.
These iguanas are not small animals, sometimes growing to around 1.5 metres (five foot) and weighing up to 7.7 kilograms (17 pounds). The significance of this is revealed in the damage they cause to human-made structures. Dense networks of burrows can destabilise pavements, eventually causing them to collapse. They have also been known to chew through power lines. Then there is their impact on native wildlife. Their vast numbers mean they often push out small lizard species while also destroying vast quantities of plant life, which is needed to support a variety of animals.
It’s believed invasive iguanas are to blame for the loss of the Miami blue butterfly, the reptiles having eaten the plants that the insects depended on.
Iguanas have been able to thrive at such a rate in Florida because they have no natural predators in the state. The only current form of population control is during particularly cold snaps, as iguanas are unable to regulate their body temperature, causing them to fall out of trees, a phenomenon known as ‘raining iguanas’.
above As iguana populations explode in Florida, locals are worried for their native wildlife