COCOA BEACH, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Stop ‘em. Kill ‘em. Get em’ outta here. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is telling homeowners they can shoot iguanas and indeed they should.
But why are they so bad for our state? Disease. Destruction. Dung.
They are mostly in South Florida, but they are occasionally spotted in Central Florida. Officials say all over the state, they’re growing in numbers, because of the heat.
The lizards are constantly making trouble by pooping in pools, eating flowers, and iguanas dig long burrows -- sometimes 80-feet long -- which can damage sidewalks, foundations and seawalls.
“We see cases of botulism through a dog biting an iguana or eating the fecal matter, and they all pretty much carry salmonella. They’re reptiles, so that's harmful to humans and pets,” said Leo Cross.
Cross is a trapper who has recently expanded his business into the South Florida region as the iguana problem escalates. You may recall back in 2015, an iguana was on the loose in a Cocoa Beach neighborhood. That was someone’s pet released in the wild. The concern was if it found a mate, the babies would have babies and then more babies. An iguana can lay 80 eggs a year.
“It’s astounding how fast the iguanas are just growing, expanding out,” Cross said.
Iguanas love to hide in trees, and when the weather gets cold, they actually get cold shocked and fall from the branches. Except that doesn't kill them, and they eventually wake up.
If you want to kill them, according to FWC’s regulation, you can and should do it humanely on your own property or on 22 areas of designated public land. If you prefer to trap an iguana and take it to a veterinarian, it can be euthanized there.
Iguanas are an invasive species and FWC says it’s an urgent time for population control.