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Green Iguanas and Raccoons in Southern Florida….an Interesting Dilemma – Part 2

A Control Program Backfires
Please see Part I of this article for background information. With introduced green iguanas (Iguana iguana) driving endangered burrowing owls from their nests and raccoons (Procyon lotor) devouring sea turtle eggs, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection initiated control measures. At a preserve in Dania Beach, an intensive trapping and collection campaign greatly reduced the numbers of both species, but an unexpected consequence of these efforts soon became apparent.Within a year of the raccoon numbers being brought under control, iguana populations skyrocketed. In one area of the park, researchers counted 626 iguanas per square kilometer (0.4 square miles)…an unprecedented density for any lizard species!

It seemed that raccoon predation had been a very effective control on iguana numbers. Although hawks, gray foxes, night herons, alligators and other animals prey upon iguanas, only raccoons take eggs, hatchlings and sub-adults in significant numbers.

Iguanas…Here to Stay?
Young iguanas are now especially common at the site, pointing towards an even greater population increase in the future. Hand-collection, although possible, is a daunting task, so biologists are looking into alternate control measures. Meanwhile, spurred by ample food and little competition, lizards as young as 2 years of age are laying eggs.

In Belize, black rats effectively control one green iguana population by taking nearly every egg laid. However, Florida’s parks already have enough problems without black rats…in fact, their notorious cousin, the Norway rat, is already a resident of many!

Further Reading
It was my good fortune to work with green iguanas in a natural, if somewhat unusual (i.e. treeless) habitat. Please see my article, The Green Iguana on the Venezuelan Llanos  for the story.

To learn more about the challenges and rewards of keeping these impressive lizards, please check out our care guide, Green Iguanas.



  1. avatar
    Shirley A Raithel

    How about an article about Red-Footed Tortoises? Sure is a GREAT pet !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • avatar

      Hello Shirley, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      Thanks for the thought…I haven’t done much on Latin American tortoises and do plan an article soon; I cared for the longevity record animal some years age, and have been on red-foot farms in South America. Just need to get some notes together.

      In the meantime, please feel free to send in some of your experiences and observations.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

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About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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