When I moved to South Florida in the summer of 1998 I was thrilled to see four iguanas frequenting my property. Two of them were about six feet long and the other two about half that size. I even thought about planting things that would attract them. Little did I know about the battle I would wage a few short years later. The population grew and grew and grew. If you’re reading this, I really don’t have to explain. It was cool when I saw one on my roof, however it was not so cool when over a dozen peered down at me from the roof by my pool. Over 30 would be on my relatively small property during any given daylight hour.
Things would only get worse if I did nothing. My local animal control department was no help at all. “Try the sticky animal traps or use an electric fence” they replied. I never tried the sticky traps but I did buy electric fencing for cattle (not the little puppy dog stuff) and strung it up around the top of my screen enclosure because that’s how the iguana were getting to my roof. It never fazed them, they even tore down the wiring while climbing to the roof. I was ready to plug the wires directly into the 110 volt outlet but knew I would somehow end up killing myself instead of the iguana (the screen enclosure is aluminum and a very good electrical conductor).
To keep the iguana off the screen enclosure I used two foot high sheets of plexi-glass. I learned that you must mount it high enough to keep them from jumping above it. They can jump almost as high as the length of their body.
I also had to modify the trees around my house because they would climb the trees and jump to the roof. This was solved by wrapping the trees with 20” wide aluminum flashing, which had to be high enough to solve the jumping problem. The very last straw was nesting season (around April). Eight-inch diameter holes were all over my yard. There were over thirty holes, which run horizontally for four to five feet. The ground collapses beneath you when you walk and nothing will grow in the area for several months.
It was now time to remove the problem.
I had already spent almost $500 in material to keep them off of my house and out of my trees. How much would it take to remove them? I had access to a large dog cage which I placed on my dock (a favorite sunning area now that the roof was off limits), tied a long cord to the door and filled it with ripe mangos. That worked well for a year and I caught over 100 iguanas. The population was way down but not extinct.
Shortly before my first year was up, I ran into David Johnson from Delray Beach who was dealing with the same problem. He had caught far more than I had with a snare pole. He would slowly walk up to them, pull the line and catch them. Daves situation is not the same as mine, his iguana are in open areas while mine regularly travel along the seawall. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could set up snares along the seawall or other known paths and let the iguana catch themselves? Well…. It works! Even with my reduced population, I caught over 50 in about two weeks using one snare at my house and three others at a couple of neighbors down the street. The whole area in several surrounding canals are nearly iguana free.
UPDATE September 2006
It has been just over a year since I started this site. I am adding new information to several sections. I've been busy and my body count is just over 400 (that's just at my house). I've taught others in my area to do what I am doing and it has been quite successful. I now only have very young iguanas under two feet long. Too young to reproduce.
There are some people that just want you to leave them alone and may even get physical or sabotage your traps. Is it legal to catch iguanas living in the wild ? You bet, click here. FWC
UPDATE February 2008
In the beginning of April 2007 I had caught number 500. I stopped counting but I continue to catch them at a slower rate. It takes time, but it adds up. Each iguana caught is one less iguana. I had great success for a while and a few neighboring iguanas would slowly fill in the vacated space. I have had no nests on my property in two years and I can plant anything I want without fear of it being consumed by iguanas. I am convinced we can totally eliminate iguanas one city block at a time.
A little bit of help from local government could go a long way. The standard-bearer is the City of Boca Grande Florida and the Comissioners. They created an "Iguana Tax" and hired a trapper to help with the problem.
UPDATE July 2008
New, easy, safer and affordable way to euthanise using dry ice to produce CO2 gas. The large 1079 Havahart trap will fit in an Igloo 120 quart ice chest with a 5 pound block of dry ice. Dry ice can be purchased at most Publix and Winn Dixie stores for about $1.30 a pound. To find the closest retail location to buy dry ice, you can go to WWW.AIRGAS.COM CHECK OFF THE BOX "Penguin Brand Dry Ice Retailer" and enter your zip code. That will list all of the locations close to you. Place the trap in the cooler with the dry ice at one end or on top of the trap. Close the lid and don't open it for several hours or even a full day. If you need your trap right away to catch more iguanas, one or two hours with the dry ice should be enough of an anesthetic to allow you to remove them from the trap and put them in a freezer to finish the job. They could already be dead in that time.
Have a spare old refrigerator? When set at a very cold setting, they are freezers too. If you can remove shelves and the trap will fit vertically inside. This can be used to euthanise or to quickly chill and slow down the iguana for easy handling and transport to the freezer.
I have discussed all of these methods of capture and euthanasia with the Department of Fish and Wildlife in Florida and all of these methods are considered by them to be legal and humane. Many people will bring up the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) Guidelines on euthanasia. This is not the only association and these are not the only guidelines. Thr AVMA is an association of pet doctors which has nothing to do with feral invasive animals. The guidelines are not the law and are only suggestions for pet doctors. We don't have the means or the tools to do it their way. They have provided no help with our problem but could "do the right thing" by providing free or low cost euthanasia for feral iguanas.
UPDATE November 2009
Two new products have hit the market, Iguana-Rid and Quack's Iguana Repellent. I have tried both of them and I could not get them to work as advertised. Iguanas would even lay down where I had heavily sprayed these products, to sun themselves. Several people that have come to this site have left negative comments about both of these products.
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