Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Exotic Lizard Invasion

Annually as many as 8000 Green Iguanas are imported into the United States through the pet trade from Central and South America. A Green Iguana Society even exists (and advises to remain calm when your pet bites you--note the teeth in the photo below). Iguanas also stowaway on fruit shipments from the tropics. Docile vegetarians, they sound like great pets.  But they often outgrow their owner's ability to house, care, and feed them.  Many die--they do not fare well being fed meat (or iceberg lettuce)--and others escape captivity or are liberated to the wild.  In south Florida, they out compete native vegetarians and cause considerable damage to local flora. Similar invasions have occurred in south Texas and Hawaii. New York and Hawaii forbid ownership of Green Iguanas. We encountered them in two state parks in the Florida Keys.

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