Iguanas

Forecasters in southern Florida had warned a sharp cold snap could bring a high chance of falling iguanas – and that's just what happened: The National Weather Service's office in Miami says immobilized iguanas began falling from the trees after temperatures plunged into the 30s and 40s early Wednesday.

Mark Hedden / markhedden.com

Invasive iguanas burrowing into the soft dirt around an aging dam cost a Florida city $1.8 million in emergency repairs.

Employees noticed last year that water was seeping round the edges of a decades-old weir that controls water delivery in West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

A Florida Keys inmate decided to rid Key West of one more iguana. He fed it alive to an alligator at the sheriff’s petting zoo, police said.

His fellow inmates ratted him out for the killing.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Green iguanas are invasive exotics and in South Florida, their numbers have exploded. They eat vegetation and sometimes bird eggs. And they dig into the ground, destabilizing canal banks, bridge pilings — and at the Key West cemetery, grave sites.

When Florida wildlife leaders effectively declared “open season” on iguanas, they called for the animals to be killed on private property. And just this week, they doubled down on python eradication. Both animals are considered invasive species in Florida, but recent and past issues with how the animals have been killed has led to accusations of animal cruelty. The state says all killings have to be done “humanely”. But, what does that actually mean? 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Across South Florida, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of the big lizard.

At their yearly gathering to talk about invasive species this week, more than 200 scientists from universities, state and federal agencies and national parks said the spike in big lizard sightings has caught them by surprise. In addition to green iguanas and tegus, nile monitor lizards, water monitors, spiny-tailed iguanas and rhinoceros iguana appear to be spreading.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West is taking on the island's abundant wild iguana population. They're everywhere, including city-owned property, from the old landfill known as Mount Trashmore to the historic cemetery in the center of the island. 

Keys Energy Services

People in South Florida have lots of reasons to resent iguanas. They pillage the garden. They poop in the pool. And in the Keys, they sometimes knock out the power.

Now Keys Energy Services, the utility that provides power from the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, is taking steps to prevent that.

Bryan Cereijo / Miami Herald

It’s officially winter in South Florida. Though it’s mostly still warm outside, we’re graced with the occasional cold front, which calls for some special seasonal traditions.

WLRN asked listeners to tell us how they mark the season.

Mark Hedden / markhedden.com

Iguana removal experts say this year be might record-setting in the number of invasive reptiles that are creeping around South Florida.

There's no way to get a firm estimate of the exact number of invasive iguanas in the state. They haven't been counted because state resources have been put in other areas, like the fight to eradicate burmese python out of the Everglades, said Joe Wasilewski, a conservation biologist and president of environmental consulting firm Natural Selections of South Florida. 

In an effort to reduce the number of invasive iguanas in South Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has funded a project in which scientists from the University of Florida approach green iguanas sleeping at night with the goal of killing them.