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The Importance of Iguana Control With Michael and Michelle

Updated: Oct 5

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

Willie: Tell me some of the things that iguanas do rather than just hanging out, because they hang out most of the day in the shade.

Well, that's the reason we wanted to come on with you guys and help educate South Florida about the iguanas. They are causing a huge negative impact to our ecosystem. To our native species. One of the things iguanas like to do is they like to dig burrows. So by them digging burrows, it could cause structural damage. I know there's a story in Fort Lauderdale, I think it was that they are digging burrows under like a dam and they cost the city $1 .8 million in damage.

Willie: Wow

And that's from digging burrows. So what happens when they dig the burrows is that with time, with the rain and the conditions, it gets erosion. So imagine, $1 .8 million in damage from lizards.

Willie: From lizards. And the lizards too, they're also messing up the ecosystem and the wildlife. Exactly.

Willie: From the turtle. Turtles is what I read and also owls and other animals like that as well.

Yeah. There's an owl called the burrowing owl and this owl, what he does is he digs tunnels as well, burrows, to lay its eggs. And sometimes.

Willie: That's a native bird.

And that's a native bird that's close to extinction actually.

Willie: Oh wow.

So, it's, you know, very important that we take care of this issue to avoid our native species from getting extinct because of the iguanas, not native to here. Sometimes they go in there, they might mess up the eggs they have. There's even stories I've heard, don't quote me on this, that they've eaten their eggs before, even though iguanas are vegetarian.

Willie: Yeah, they herbivores.

They're herbivores, there are known stories, some stories that they have eaten bird eggs.

Willie: Oh, I'm sure.

But it's not common, but it has happened, you know, turtles, owls, you know, bird species as well.

Willie Or, they go in there, they sit on them, they break them, they hit them with their tail. That's their, basically, their defense mechanism is their tail.

Their tail, yeah.

Willie: They'll whip you really nice.

Yeah. Real nice. I've gotten whipped a couple of times.

Willie: Oh, I'm sure you're in that world. So, you know, out of a thousand catches, you're going to get whipped probably at least a hundred.

It hurts more than my wife whipped me, you know. LOL

Willie: Michael, Michael.

Whip it real good.

Willie: Listen, Whip them hard. Okay. Do one for me. I'll get it for you.

Yeah. So there's actually another species that iguanas are affecting, it's called the Miami blue butterfly. The Miami blue butterfly lays their eggs on a plant called a nicker bean. I think it's called nicker bean. And what happens is they want to eat those plants. So what happens is that the butterfly can't lay the eggs on those plants because there's nothing to lay it on.

Willie: What is it? The milkweed?

No, no, it's called, I think it's called nicker bean. Nicker bean plant. I think it's called nicker bean plant, if I'm correct. So in Bahia Honda, down in the Keys, they're well known in that area, you know, and they started seeing less and less of these butterflies. So they did research, they found out that the iguanas are eating all those plants. So they have nowhere to lay their eggs. And the Miami blue butterfly is a native species, which is a beautiful butterfly.

Willie: Do you know how (the iguanas) got here? Iguanas were first noticed in South Florida in the 1960s. Pet trade market had a lot to do with it.

Willie: Same thing with the pythons?

Same thing with the pythons. You know, they brought them as pets, you know, they got too big. Residents let them go because they don't know how to handle it or how to take care of it, or they couldn't take care of them. So just releasing, releasing, releasing, eventually they became an infestation. They start mating and Iguanas lay 20 to 70 eggs a year.

Willie: And there's thousands of them.

Yeah. So imagine one female laying 20 to 70 eggs a year, multiply that by how many females are in South Florida.

Willie: It's not something, let's say that people want to do, go and catch iguanas and control them. It's something that has created a problem that if they don't stop it and there's not more of you guys or guys that do what you do, then it becomes a really massive, huge problem for South Florida.

Yeah. I mean, since we started, we've removed over 3000 Iguanas.

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