Green Iguanas, invasive to South Florida, making comeback after nearly dying off from 2010 freeze

Experts say iguanas carry diseases

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -- - They are spiny, have sharp claws and are making a comeback in South Florida.

The green iguana might also be carrying diseases dangerous to humans and pets.

Biologists with Florida Fish and Wildlife report the green iguana is growing in population after seeing a sharp decline in numbers in 2010 after a freeze swept through Palm Beach County.

"They were all over the place. Toward my yard, you'd see 20-to-25 just laying out there," said Kevin Quinn, who spots green iguanas from his Boynton Beach home.
    
Quinn was referring to a few years ago, before the cold snap hit South Florida. The weather had such an impact on the invasive species that residents could see the iguanas falling from trees after the creatures froze to death.

"For quite a period of time, there weren't many at all. And lately, there's a few back there," said Quinn.

Experts with Animal Rangers Wildlife Removal said not only do iguanas tear up yards, but they also pose a health threat and carry disease like salmonella.

"They don't bite very often but they can give you a good lashing with their tails," said Noel Hanson with Animal Rangers Wildlife Removal.

Hanson said the iguanas can also be aggressive toward pets. He cautioned against people touching the creatures. Hanson said they can easily make people sick and spread disease through their droppings. He also said the iguanas are drawn to backyards with shade, vegetation and water.

Resident Kevin Quinn said he will be watching.

"I'm mean, I'm not going to go grab one, but they've never been a nuisance. So it doesn't bother me."
    
Experts said the area will continue to see more and more green iguanas in South Florida. The only way they expect to see the population going down is if there is another freeze.

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