Green iguana spotted in St. James City
Mary and Rollie Hirman have lived on a canal in St. James City for 17 years. They’ve seen plenty of wildlife on and around their property – birds, manatees and even a few dolphin. But Nov. 30, they spotted something they’ve never seen before – a 4 1/2-foot-long green Iguana.
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commis-sion, the green iguana (Iguana iguana) is a large lizard not native to Florida.
They were first reported in Florida in the 1960s along the Miami-Dade County southeastern coast near Hialeah, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne. Today, green iguanas have populated the west coast of Florida in Collier and Lee counties. Green iguanas are not “cold hardy” and tend to stay in the warmer, southern part of the state.
“We’ve lived on Pine Island since 1998,” Mary Hirman said. “Neither of us or any of our neighbors have ever seen anything like this. When I spotted it on my neighbors’ dock this morning, of course being a photographer, the first thing I did was run for my camera.”
Green iguanas reside in burrows, culverts, drainage pipes and rock or debris piles and South Florida’s extensive man-made canals serve as ideal dispersal corridors to allow iguanas to colonize new areas.
Green iguanas are not harmful to humans or pets and will usually run into a burrow or into the water. They are excellent swimmers and tolerate both salt and freshwater. They can submerge themselves for up to 4 hours at a time.
A cold snap can kill green iguanas and any dog, cat or other animal that chews on a dead iguana often dies as a result of bacteria.
According to officials, there are steps you can take to deter green iguanas from your property:
1. Modifying the habitat around your home by removing plants that attract iguanas.
2. Fill in holes to discourage burrowing.
3. Hang a wind chime the intermittent noise will keep them away.
4. Hang CDs or other reflective surfaces.
There are local “iguana catchers” available to have them removed and the FWC has an online video offering assistance to homeowners. View the FWC presentation Iguana Technical Assistance for Homeowners at myfwc.com/wildlife habitats/nonnatives/reptiles/green-iguana/