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From Iguanas to Pythons: The Next Invasive Species Threatening Florida

From episode: EP43 - IGUANA CONTROL with Michael and Michelle from Humane Iguana Control

Willie: It's cool that you guys have been able to expand on what you guys have done, starting with landscaping, to an opportunity controlling pests, as let's say iguanas. And then from there you branched out into other things. What's next for you guys? What do you feel like is another animal you'll be capturing?

Honestly, like we want to focus on as much as we do on the iguanas on the Burmese python. That's another invasive species causing a huge impact to our Everglades. They're eating everything. There's people catching out there huge pythons. They just set a world record of, I think a 19 footer, I think it was.

Willie: That's crazy. That'll eat humans.

Yeah, for sure. Definitely. They eat alligators, there's times that the big pythons could eat a smaller alligator. And just like the python, they don't have any predators, but the alligator to me is a big predator for the Burmese python, but up to what size, you know. Just like the iguana, the iguana has very little predators. They have hawks, they have owls that will eat smaller iguanas. There's raccoons definitely.

Willie: But I feel like a raccoon wouldn't be like a main predator. It's not like the raccoons are after iguanas.

Well, you know, a plus is that iguanas sleep on the trees at night, they don't sleep in the burrows. People are misinformed about that. So after iguanas are done with their day, pooping in your pools and digging the burrows and destroying your structures, they climb up trees high at night, to hide from predators. Mostly raccoons are really active at night. So the raccoons will climb the trees at night. And if they want to sleep, he's going to grab them, he's going to eat them alive.

Willie: I would feel the raccoon better have a tight grip because those iguanas, they can move.

They're fast. Yeah.

Willie: They're fast. They have their big tail. They can move their body like a snake.

Yeah. Smaller iguanas they could grab. But the bigger ones, like a six foot iguanas, the raccoons have no chance. Because I've had trouble with those six foot iguanas, they're strong.

Willie: That's a big boy. Probably what weighs 40 pounds?

I think up to 20 pounds. 20, 25 pounds is the max. The max iguanas grow are six feet. And they weigh up to, I think 20, 25 pounds.

Willie: Are there different species of iguanas?

In South Florida, there's only two invasive species. There's a black spinytail iguana, and then there's a green iguana.

Willie: So I've seen both of those.

Yeah. Those are the two main invasive species in South Florida.

Willie: And there's a lot of different lizards. Here, even at the farm, we have the black lizard that has like an orange head.

Oh, the retagama.

Willie: That's what it's called?

I think it's called the retagama. Yeah.

Willie: I'm going to start capturing them and selling them to the pet stores.

Yeah. Right. And those are in the millions too.

Willie: We have them all over the place. Yeah. But they don't eat the plants. For us, it's great. They eat the bugs. They might eat the plants. So it's like, hey guys, have fun, you know, hang out. They don't become a problem.

Exactly. And here we go again, those things are multiplying like crazy. So eating all the insects. So our native species are always in competition too, you know, to eat. Same thing with iguana, the same exact thing. The iguanas are eating all these plants and stuff and our native species, what are they going to eat? You know, because the population of the iguana compare to our native species, is getting really close to me. They're just like the python.

Willie: Just like the python. Yeah. Between those two, they're overpowering everything else. Like the alligators, is that considered native?

Yeah I believe. Yeah, of course.

Willie: So even them, you know, there's not as many alligators as there is pythons or as there is iguanas. Like there's iguanas all over.

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