One thing is for certain. The state of Florida is home to a lot of critters. Whether you are talking about snakes, turtles, raccoons, or even giant toads, you cannot forget and you must pay attention to the newest problem….the dreaded iguanas. We here at Broward Landscape in Parkland, Florida, have to admit that we have a serious iguana problem in Florida.
What Can Be Done
Packs of the invasive green iguanas cause issues like devouring grass landscapes, damaging roofs, and pooping in pools. The problem is so bad that desperate homeowners and condo associations are being forced to hire professionals to help keep the beasts at bay.
Experts say that they are worse than ever, wrecking landscaping, roofs, sea walls, patios, home foundations and levees.
South Florida companies are thriving and proliferating as quickly as the iguanas themselves.
Now that summer has arrived, these specialized iguana removal services which were unheard of a few years ago, are taking big bites out of maintenance budgets. Iguana removals are now becoming as noticeable as landscapers, lawn mowing and pool services for property managers, municipalities, hotels and resorts.
“Homeowner associations spend thousands of dollars on landscaping, and iguanas can go through that in a week,” says Perry Colato, co-owner of Redline Iguana Removal. “They also defecate by or in pools. Their feces carries salmonella, putting people at risk. They can lay up to 70 eggs a year and are now causing very serious issues.”
There is no doubt that there are more of the reptiles this year, thanks to another mild winter. Iguanas don’t just damage property. “They kick out endangered burrowing owls and eat their eggs,” Colato says. “They eat flowering plants, and that is affecting the monarch and Miami Blue butterflies. Iguanas love milkweed.”
It Can Be Costly
Dawn Braeseke, the owner of Cooper Colony Golf Course in Cooper City, hired Colato to help rid her 67-acre public course of the nuisance iguanas.
“We’ve had thousands of iguanas on our property and they burrow under our sand traps and lay eggs and make tunnels up to 80 feet long,” says Braeseke. “You can drive up in a golf cart to a putting green and there can be up to 40 iguanas running away. It’s like Jurassic Park.”
Braeseke estimates she has spent about $500 on iguana removal services this year. A few years ago, she wasn’t spending any money on iguanas.
There are many different types of iguanas. The orange iguanas can have many mates. They lay 60 to 70 eggs per year. They eat all the trees and threaten birds and other native wildlife.
Iguanas also love to hang around canals and lakes and use the water to make quick escapes. They can hold their breath underwater up to 20 minutes according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They just sit on the bottom until the coast is clear.
Landowners can trap and humanely kill iguanas on their own private property, according to the FWC. But they cannot set traps or kill the reptiles in common areas in communities and condos owned by an HOA. This is exactly why professional services in those cases are needed for removal. It also is against the law to trap or take possession of an iguana and transport it somewhere else and release it.
How to Get Rid of Them
There are some very interesting rules when it comes to ridding these nuisances.
It is legal to shoot iguanas in the head with a pellet gun. You stab them in the brain and even decapitate them as long as they don’t suffer, according to Florida law. Bashing in an iguana’s head and destroying its brain quickly is the most humane way to kill one. It is a crime to drown, freeze or poison iguanas, according to the FWC.
Collapsing burros is the best way to control them. Iguanas like to dig out nests in yards and next to seawalls. Use a shovel and collapse the holes. Keep doing this as new holes appear. This will keep eggs from hatching and will eventually discourage them from nesting on your property.
Physical barriers also can be useful tools to keep iguanas off your property. Having a landscaper installs tree and fence wraps is also a deterrent.
The FWC also educates the public on how to live with iguanas and protect property by making a few simple modifications to landscapes.
“Education, hazing and habitat modification is what we suggest,” says Carol Lyn Parrish, an FWC public information coordinator. They love to eat all flowering plants, especially bougainvillea, hibiscus and orchids. “Make them unwelcome. They don’t like waxy leaves or thick leaves. Plant crotons. Squirt them with a hose or install motion activated sprinklers. They don’t like that.”
Homeowners, HOAs, counties and cities also can request that the FWC conduct a free iguana technical workshop to help tackle large-scale community problems. Staff in the FWC south regional office also will answer questions at 561-625-5122.
The FWC has hired its first iguana technician based in the Florida Keys, which is suffering from a very serious infestation. It is a very sensitive habitat in the Keys that the iguanas are having a negative impact on.
A deep freeze in the winter of 2009 put a big dent in the iguana population. It is one of the only ways that mother nature can help in the dilemma. But it’s been ten years since nature has taken its course. We obviously need another deep freeze….badly!
We at Broward Landscape know this is an issue. We too have been dealing with the aftermath of the iguana problem and what it leaves behind. We are here to help fix any damage or re-beautify and property.
Broward Landscape is the South Florida leaders in landscape design, outdoor living spaces, outdoor kitchens, bars, outdoor fire pits, exterior lighting, pavers, decking, walkways, tree care, sprinkler repair, pergolas and arbors. Our reputation and results speak for themselves. This includes large-scale corporate environments, city parks, shopping malls and apartment complexes, condominiums and homeowner associations. Our experienced landscaper designers set the standard each day in landscape design and hardscaping. We are the landscapers that light up your life!