The Green iguana, also known as the common iguana, may be the animal other than humans that you’re most likely to find on a flight arriving in Miami.
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service records (see below post), between January-April 2010 over 20,000 iguanas were imported into Miami. Almost all were bred at one massive farm (Iguanas Tropicales) in El Salvador.
During the 2010 legislative session in Tallahassee, a bill passed that restricts the breeding and sale of pythons, anaconda and other dangerous reptiles. The bill also directed the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to evaluate whether the trade in other species should be restricted. When the FWC meets in Weston on December 2, commissioners will hear a report on the Green iguana.
The FWC assessment (download here) concluded that iguanas do not present a threat to humans or to Florida’s environment, but the large number of iguanas that now live in the wild in South Florida may have negative economic or social impacts. FWC staff recommended that the commission consider developing regulations that would discourage impulse purchases of iguanas or other potentially problematic non-native reptiles. We think that’s a great idea!
Contact the FWC and urge them to add the Green iguana to its list of “Class III Wildlife,” which would require people to obtain a permit to purchase an iguana as a pet. To obtain the permit, applicants would also need to complete a questionnaire to show that they have the knowledge to properly care for these reptiles.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Visit ARFF’s website to learn more about iguanas.