Top 10 iguana management tips for homeowners | Opinion

By Tom Portuallo

Special to the Sun Sentinel

Jul 22, 2021 11:42 AM

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Iguanas gather on the seawall in the Three Islands neighborhood of Hallandale Beach.

Iguanas gather on the seawall in the Three Islands neighborhood of Hallandale Beach. (Mike Stocker / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

If you live anywhere in South Florida, iguanas likely have become a common sight. Native to Central and South America, iguanas started appearing in South Florida during the 1960s as exotic pets. Many of these iguanas either escaped captivity or were released by their owners and over the years their population has grown across the state. Besides being a nuisance, they have caused millions of dollars in property damage, eating residential and commercial vegetation, burrowing into public infrastructure (sidewalks, seawalls, berms or home foundations), and consuming threatened native species. Iguanas also may transmit salmonella to humans through water or surfaces.

Tom Portuallo

Tom Portuallo (Tom Portuallo / Courtesy)

What can homeowners do to protect their property from these pesky invaders?

First, here are 10 helpful tips to avoid attracting iguanas to your property.

  • Keep your garden and landscaping tidy, making it less attractive for iguana nesting.
  • Choose plants for your yard that iguanas don’t eat, including chenille, croton, Mexican petunia, oleander, silver buttonwood and others.
  • Don’t feed iguanas.
  • Don’t leave old food lying around in compost piles.
  • If you leave pet food outside for a dog or cat, bring it in when your pet is finished eating.
  • Put fencing around vegetable gardens.

Here’s what to do if you suspect iguanas already have invaded your property:

  • Check around your yard for holes in the ground, which may or may not be a sign that an iguana is taking up residence.
  • Use a shovel to close off new holes in the yard.
  • Some determined homeowners take the extra step of filling holes with rocks.
  • Get a recommendation for the best, most experienced and trustworthy iguana trapper.

If all else fails, is it legal for property owners to shoot and kill iguanas?

Killing iguanas in your yard is an option, but there are laws and regulations you need to follow. Iguanas are not a protected species, but they must be killed swiftly and humanely. Be aware that Florida law prohibits the relocation, sale or transfer of iguanas, but it does allow for humane euthanizing. Also bear in mind that discharging a firearm or crossbow in a residential setting could cause problems with law enforcement. What’s more, the rules and regulations for disposing of dead iguanas make killing the creatures tricky, so the best course of action for complying with the law is reaching out to a professional, trustworthy, experienced iguana trapper.

Removing iguanas effectively and in compliance with animal cruelty regulations and other laws is a specialized service. It’s not a free-for-all or open season for killing iguanas. Every method we employ illustrates our respect for the property owner and the property.

Tom Portuallo is the founder of Iguana Control, a Pompano Beach-based professional service that offers land surveying for breeding holes and tree access points to properties, capturing the most stubborn pests, property protection with products, and monitoring methods, and the application of tools to manage infestations.

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