NewsPinellas County


Invasive green iguanas now spotted in Tampa Bay area, some even served for dinner

"Chicken of the trees" even served for dinner
Posted at 4:31 PM, Jul 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-09 10:39:38-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Overloaded with iguanas!

The green iguanas invading South Florida are now becoming a problem in the Tampa Bay area. The invasive creatures have been spotted in Pinellas and Manatee counties this summer.

RELATED: Florida residents urged to kill invasive iguanas as population continues to boom

Stuart Burns had to see the photos to believe it. His father-in-law captured pictures of a large green iguana sunning itself on the dock next door to Burns' home on Lake Winston in St. Petersburg.

“I thought he got them from a magazine at first. I was like 'wow, that’s pretty cool. Where did you see that?' He’s like 'uh, next door to you. I was like oh man okay,'” Burns explained.

Burns said at first, he thought it was neat until he realized the impact the iguanas could have. "I remembered down in the [Florida Keys], all the iguanas everywhere so I was a little worried that maybe they’d be taking over up here as well," he said.

Edwin Rodrigo's neighbor in Northeast St. Petersburg near Kenneth City also spotting one of the lizards and snapped photos of it lounging on her patio.

“I think it’s crazy it seems like every time you turn around there’s another species invading the area which is horrible,” he said with a sigh.

FWC says the lizard sightings are troublesome. The creatures are highly invasive, can live up to 10 years in the wild and each female can lay up to 76 eggs.

“It would be not cool to have a bunch of iguanas swimming around our lake," Burns added.

The green iguanas have created a huge problem in South Florida where FWC officials say the iguanas are causing damage to native plants, seawalls, and electrical transformers. FWC officials say the lizards also dig burrows under roads and sidewalks which can cause the surfaces to cave.

So far this summer, three iguana sightings have been reported to FWC in Pinellas County and one in Manatee County, but FWC says for every one reported, they believe there are many more making their homes in Tampa Bay.

FWC is now spreading the word that if you spot one of the green iguanas, the best thing to do is to kill it. They say it's the best way to control the population from spreading out of control. FWC says as long as they are killed humanely, it's legal.

In South Florida, the green iguanas are even showing up on dinner plates and nicknamed the "Chicken of the trees."

The idea is getting mixed reactions in Tampa Bay. “yeah I definitely would try it. People eat gator. People eat all kinds of stuff. I’m sure it probably takes good," Burns said.

“No. Definitely not," Rodrigo said in disgust. "I was born and raised in New York City and iguana was never on the menu.”

Rodrigo says while he may not eat it, he is ready to kill the iguana in his neighborhood. He just hopes he spots it before his wife does.

“She’s afraid of the little geckos so imagine an iguana. She’s going to be running for the hills,” he said with a chuckle.

An interactive map of all the iguana sightings can be found here.

You can see all the reported sightings in Pinellas County here. You can check out reported sightings in Manatee County here.

For reported iguana sightings in Hillsborough County, click here.

To report an iguana sighting, you can fill out this form and send it to FWC.