Iguana in South Florida
WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY – ENCHANTED FOREST PARK, FL
The Green Iguana or Common Iguana (Iguana iguana) is a large, arboreal herbivorous species of lizard of the genus Iguana native to Central and South America. The green iguana ranges over a large geographic area, from southern Brazil and Paraguay to as far north as Mexico and the Caribbean Islands; and in the United States as feral populations in South Florida (including the Florida Keys), Hawaii, and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
A herbivore, it has adapted significantly with regard to locomotion and osmoregulation as a result of its diet. It grows to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) in length from head to tail, although a few specimens have grown more than 2 metres (6.6 ft) with bodyweights upward of 20 pounds (9.1 kg).
Commonly found in captivity as a pet due to its calm disposition and bright colors, it can be demanding to care for properly. Space requirements and the need for special lighting and heat can prove challenging to an amateur hobbyist.
The term “feral” is used to describe animals that used to belong to someone as pets or livestock, but now live on their own as wild animals. Feral iguanas are common in some parts of southern Florida. To be more precise, the wild green iguanas in Florida are a mix of former pets and the offspring of these animals. Green iguanas are generally thought not to be native to the United States. This places wild green iguanas in the category of “invasive” or “exotic” species — non-native species that have been introduced into a new habitat and which often cause damage to the ecosystem. Florida is overrun with invasive species, most of which come from the pet trade.