Florida has an iguana problem and the Sunshine State wants the sun to set on this invasive species.
The reptiles have gone from an endearing neighborhood sight to a major nuisance. The invasive species has been leaving an expensive trail of destruction by grinding up gardens, ripping up roofs and pooping in pools.
According to ABC News, the cold-blooded beasts are seeing an influx this year thanks to unusually consistent warm weather. Temperatures have only dropped below 50 degrees in Miami once in the last 18 months.
"Iguanas have proliferated with such intensity in Southern Florida that they are now a common sight from the suburbs into the city," zoologist Rob Magill told ABC News.
It's not known how big the Florida green iguana population is, but state wildlife officials have said it's too big. They want them dead, and they are urging residents to roll up their sleeves and pitch in.
According to a notice on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website, "homeowners do not need a permit to kill iguanas on their own property, and the FWC encourages homeowners to kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible."
The green iguana is not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law. Green iguanas are not native to Florida and are considered to be an invasive species due to the damage they can cause to seawalls, sidewalks, and landscapes.Usually seen in the southern part of the state, the iguanas seem to have migrated north where they've been spotted in urban areas of Orlando, Sanford, Ormond Beach, and other Central Florida cities.
The directive also said green iguanas can be killed year-round without a permit on 22 public lands in south Florida.
Homeowners and condo boards are finding themselves scrambling to cover the costs of animal removal services just to keep the damaging reptiles at bay.
The services that specialize in reptile removal are gobbling up big chunks of residential maintenance budgets according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
"Homeowner associations spend thousands of dollars on landscaping, and iguanas can go through that in a week," said an iguana removal expert.
Green iguanas can live for up to 10 years in the wild, reaching 5 feet in length and can lay up to 76 eggs per year.
Catching one of these critters might prove difficult as they have strong tails that can deliver fierce lashes. But, the FWC urges a more proactive approach and iguana-proofing your house by hanging wind chimes, filling holes and removing their favorite plants.
Or, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel homeowners can opt for an alternate way to eliminate the pests— eat them. In some Caribbean countries, iguanas are called the "chicken of the trees."