All About Iguanas in Surfside

All About Iguanas in Surfside

By: Surfside Mar 01, 2019

What to Know about Our Reptile Friends

Walking around Surfside and noticing that the green lizards are just a bit too… large? That’s right, those dinosaur-looking reptiles are green iguanas.

As a species, iguanas are hundreds of years old. The first record of the species was noted in South America by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Their name is derived from a Spanish form of the Taíno name for the species: iwana.

They are primarily herbivores, feeding on leaves, which is why they can often be seen lounging on trees and munching on grass. They enjoy climbing, swimming, and (just like us) THOROUGHLY enjoy sunbathing.

How Iguanas Came to Surfside

Originally from South America, iguanas are now found in over 17 countries, from southern Mexico to central Brazil, to the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, the Caribbean. They are also found throughout South Florida, although they are not native to the state.

Iguanas came to Florida as stowaways on ships carrying fruit from South America. Over the years, as iguanas became part of the pet trade and were released into the wild, the populations grew. They, like humans, thrive in the warm South Florida climate.

What to Do if You See an Iguana

Iguanas are typically not aggressive, but they will defend themselves against pets and against people who try to catch or corner them. So, we highly recommend observing the iguanas from a safe distance and if you get the chance, take a photo! The regal-looking iguanas are a constant source of interest for those who haven’t encountered one and a sighting makes a great vacation story. But remember, they are considered an invasive species in South Florida, and initiatives are underway to control their population.

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