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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - August 04, 2009

From: Lighthouse Point, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pests
Title: Problems with iguanas in Ft. Lauderdale FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live on the intracoastal waterway near Ft. Lauderdale,FL and I am having problems with iguana. They will not eat lantana or buttercups; however is there a poisonous ground cover, preferable with flowers, that I could utilize to surround the base of my royal palm trees? Iguanas are everywhere and costing me $$$$.

ANSWER:

Okay, first we need to apologize for what we were thinking. We thought iguanas were natives of the Caribbean, South and Central America and what were they doing in Florida, anyway? Turns out they are, indeed, a very large problem in South Florida, but pretty well confined to there by the fact that they cannot withstand freezing weather. The iguanas that are terrorizing some neighborhoods are escaped or abandoned pets, and can truly be vicious and dangerous to pets and children as well as vegetation.  And we thought Florida had big problems with invasive plants, but never considered invasive lizards! Iguanas are omnivorous, eating not only plant material but also insects, occasionally small rodents, and are known to be carriers of salmonella. All very good reasons to not feed them or try to adopt them.

However, we don't recommend poisonous plants because a child or pet could just as easily come along and nibble on those plants as the iguanas. Also, we are gardeners, not zoologists, and specialize in plants native to North America and to the area in which the plants are being grown. Reptiles are way out of our line of expertise.  We know about rattlesnakes, but we try to avoid socializing with them. So, we are going to list some websites, from which we have learned a great deal, that might give you some help. 

University of Florida IFAS Extension Dealing with iguanas in the South Florida landscape

TampaBay.com Florida's iguana infestation

Green Iguana Society Feral Iguanas in Florida

Florida Museum of Natural History Study sheds light on invasive iguana's big appetite

UPI.com Man wants iguana on Florida menus

 

 

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