Alien Iguanas Overrun Florida Island

Maryann Mott
for National Geographic News
May 24, 2006

Boca Grande, Florida, bills itself as the Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World. But the tiny island town in the Gulf of Mexico is fast becoming known for something not touted in tour guides.

Up to 12,000 non-native black spinytail iguanas—many 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 centimeters) long—have infiltrated the resort community. (See a map of southeastern Florida.)

The reptiles ruin landscaping, spark power outages, and weaken protective sand dunes with their burrows.

Some residents have even found the creatures floating in toilets.

"For years the iguanas have had the run of the island," islander Beverly Furtado said.

"Everybody thought they were cute in the beginning and didn't mind them being around."

But attitudes have now changed.

Lee County commissioners recently approved a special tax on Boca Grande residents to cover the cost of removing the invasive species.

"It's a major problem," said commissioner Bob Janes, who pushed for the levy.

"We're trying to nip it in the bud."

Iguana Baby Boom

Last week a five-person Boca Grande county advisory board met for the first time to draw up a plan to eradicate the reptiles.

Continued on Next Page >>


SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES

ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.