I've got a problem that only you will be able to help me with: my garden is being overrun by iguanas! They've totally denuded several climbing vines (including my favorite, a passion fruit) and the top half of a hibiscus hedge in the back yard. Is there anything out there that you have been able to find that works for iguana-proofing? They're fun to have around (visitors to the Island especially enjoy seeing them) but they're murdering my garden!
In the case where I'm not able to keep them out of the yard, does anyone out there know of fast-growing tropical vines that iguanas won't eat? I've got a big trellis that covers the entryway to my house. It used to be covered in passion fruit leaves, but now it's empty...
happyisland, I have taken the liberty to repost your question on the Florida forum; this is a new problem here in Southern Florida (mostly on the East Coast) and so you may get some suggestions from there.
I hope you get it resolved.
Iguanas are natural vegetarians. That is why they eat your plants. I used to have a very large one for a pet.
You might be able to 'distract' them from your plants if you feed them. Of course this costs you money. But...there is probably no way to get rid of them once they have 'found' you unless you shoot them.
Put out plates of food for them with stuff like lettuce, cantaloupe, pears, they like sweet fruits and leafy greens as far away from the plants you don;t want them to eat as possible. If you can get them to go to these food stations and concentrate them there you might be able to save your plants. Of course you will probably have to feed them from then on.
I was standing underneath a sea grape, so laden with fruit it had blocked our pathway, contemplating whether I should knock a bunch of the "grapes" off, to get it back up (the tree, that is). All of a sudden, I realized I was staring down a five-foot iguana whose snack of the fruit I'd interrupted. He clambered up out of sight, and I was sorry to have scared away a natural solution to my problem.
The next day, coming out of our outside shower, I spotted a bright green 18-inch juvenile, with a passionfruit stem-end protruding from his mouth. Hey, eat the durn sea grapes, kid!
GothQueen's approach is the best I've heard suggested anywhere. As with other less exciting garden intruders, THAT they eat is a given, WHAT and WHERE they eat is the only thing you have any chance of controlling.
Actually, in Vieques, the feral cats keep these guys in check. Few reach this size, and even this one "showed up dead" a short while after I took this picture a few years ago.
Thanks for the thoughts, everyone! I honestly hadn't even considered feeding them myself (I wasn't in the mood when I was surveying their destruction of my favorite plants) but that might be the answer. I'm only worried that I'll end up attracting even more of the lizards to my yard... maybe I'll set up the feeding station in my next door neighbor's yard.
@Metro: I figure iguana-proof plants are probably going to be the long-term solution. Anyone out there with any success in that regard?
We have to do that with the feral hogs here. They are extremely destructive, and were tearing everything up, but we set up a corn feeder out in the woods and since then they have stayed away from up around the house and the ornamental beds. These things weigh between 150-300 pounds and can be really dangerous, so that's a good thing, LOL
There is absolutely nothing that will stop a herd of wild pigs when they decide to root up an area of ground. The only thing that they have not tried to destroy that I can think of is the large stand of Bromelia balansae ('Burglar Alarm Bromeliad"). But that can actually be used as a living fence, and its so dangerous to people you can;t just plant it anywhere.
The cactus won't work because I used to go out and break off cactus pads for my pet iguana. She ate most things green and some fruits. She lived 11 1/2 yrs and was over 5' long. Neat pet but never again.
I remember being on Guam as a child and the Chameleons that would peek in the windows there, I loved them!!!
My dogs keep the iguanas at bay because they are diurnal. I'm currently trying to figure out what is eating the Mollies from my fish pond though and it could be possums which are nocturnal and the dogs are in the house at night. I'm going to start leaving them out and see if that is the predator. Also, I just won an epic battle in the unending war with the leafcutter ants. They decimated my water lilies in the pond. I did find bait that they took and haven't returned. They will be back though, it is unending with them.
Since the iguanas can't/don't move around at night, look for something that will chase them during the day. I have a rescued dog that lived on iguana for the first few months of her life, she is relentless in going after them. Tasty treat she thinks. They can easily escape her here, we have high rock walls so I don't have to witness a slaughter but it keeps them away and keeps her entertained watching for them. Doggie TV.
*edit: Happy posted while I was writing. I wasn't going to mention it but they are considered good eating here in Mexico and in many tropical areas. Tastes just like chicken, right? They never become a big pest in inhabited areas for that reason, here in the city I never see them over a foot or so in length but out at the ruins and in the protected parks they are many feet long.
I'm surprised the cats mess with them. Although I guess when they are small its just like any other prey. Mine got along with the cats in the house ok but she would whip the dogs (55# & up)with her tail and they didn't mess with her at all.
As good as the iguana stew idea sounds, iguanas are a protected species here in Aruba. Apparently "sopi yuwana" was so popular a generation or two ago that almost all of the local iguanas were wiped out, necessitating the law.
I've got two dogs that are hell on any iguana they catch within 18" of the ground. The problem is that all of the tasty passionfruit leaves are high up, on a trellis that our lazy miniature dachshund refuses to climb...
I am an avid cook. I have a standing offer with my friends: they catch and dispatch the iguana and it will be my pleasure to cook up an iguana feast for them. Here in Florida, the iguanas are an introduced species that causes great damages to gardens, sea walls, etc.
One less known fact is that they poop all over the place and spread salmonella and the dreaded e. colli all over your lawn in the process. They are not a protected species here. If you kill them, it must be done in a humane fashion. It is illegal to relocate them. I have heard of a golf course getting rid of its iguana infestation by placing plates of rat poison-laced goodies here and there. I wouldn't cook those.
I still think that a fruit-baited humane cage (HaveAHeart brand comes to mind) would be good to catch them. Once caught, it's a simple matter of completely submerging the cage with its captive for a while. Studies show that when treated that way, the iguanas inevitably develop water on their lungs and go munch leaves in that great garden in the sky. Then, it's a simple matter to skin them and make huli-huli iguana skewers. HHHMMM, tasty!
In Bay of Islands (Honduras), there is a tour that takes passengers from the cruise ship to the iguana farm. People eat so much iguanas down there that they became endangered. They now farm-raise their iguanas for sale in meat shops.
My friend Carol (The Strong Woman Of The Everglades) shoots 8-foot+ alligators off her front porch. She then calls her friends and they butcher the reptile on the spot. Time is of the essence here. Her friends prefer the ribs and she keeps the tail. The leftovers are dropped back into the Everglades. They recover the cleaned, bleached skulls a few weeks later to make lamps out of them. When I first visited her, she fixed some alligator tail nuggets for me and let me tell you they were absolutely wonderful. It doesn't taste like chicken but the flavor is very pleasant. She had marinated it in lime juice, which added another layer of flavor, as if it needed it. Carol, like many of my friends, is a great cook.
A little girl got bitten badly by a 4-foot iguana over here just last week. She was bringing it lettuce like her mommy told her to do. The iguana somehow got spooked and bit her. She ended up in the hospital; true story, it was on the news. Yesterday, there was this little old lady who got attacked by 5 raccoons. They sent her in the hospital. Of course you know this means war, as Bugs Bunny would say. Luckily, I have never seen an iguana or a raccoon here in Delray Beach, although I am told there are a few closer to the intracoastal waterway. They can stay there, I don't miss them at all.
I really like the idea of a Bull Shih Tsu...grin. We have the alligators here, but not the iguana...discovered you can chase the small gators away along with raccoons and Opossums with a paintball gun...no damage, just a real wake up call to run...and it does sting...had to try it out first...I am now the orange and yellow, black and blue Moon...grin
I was against opossums until I read that they are the garbage collectors for the garden. They supposedly they live on snails, carrion, mice, and a whole bunch of stuff I don't want around. Haven't seen my resident in a few weeks and hope he still here.
Fortunately, no. I have learned since then to stay behind the paintball gun, no who happens to be holding it...grin I am pleased to have various members of the animal neighborhood visit, I just have certain limitations I impose on any guest...
You may not eat from the garbage cans, nor the dog or cat dishes and food bins and you may not destroy plants in my yard by ingestion or otherwise... I really don't see this as asking too much, do you?
Of course we have wild :rabbits, opossums, raccoons, armadillo, alligators, egrets, herons (grey and white) crows, buzzards, barred hawks, owls, bats, foxes and coyotes. It makes me very happy that I live in a subdivision and not out in the country...grin The paintball gun is really only used on the pushy critters, for the rest I have a water blaster squirtgun that has a 30 ft range...very effective for the neighbor's dog eating my cats' food.
Wow - after reading the litany of south florida pests I'm feeling lucky that all I have is swarms of big iguanas to deal with. That is, now that I live in town. Until last year I was living in backcountry Aruba, and the wild goats made gardening an absolute impossibility.
BTW, score one for my iguana-control troops. See attached image!
I am fond of my iguanas and I put out grapes and other fruit for them. No need to give them cactus, they chomp large hunks of my nopales but that doesn't worry me. When one of the larger ones took a bite out of the first glorious bloom of my Tulipan, however, I was mad. A Maya friend suggested a spray which did nothing to keep the chomper away. Hope it didn't kill him later. People poison cats & dogs with treats the way someone suggested, I'm opposed to all of that. I've put chicken wire around my Tulipans, which are still small, and my new flowered vines, Mandevillas. Seems to be working so far. If the iguanas don't have trellises to climb, the higher vines should be okay. We'll see what happens as the Tulipans grow. They were first introduced at Chichen Itza nearly 100 years ago where there are plenty of iguanas and no reported problems, according to the gardeners.
Thanks, Hap. It looks as though the hurricane has passed us by. The rain was fierce the past few days but today the sky is clear and the sun is shining. Even better, we've entered the fall/winter season and the temperature is only in the high 80sF. After months of days around 110F, this temperature which is tempered by a soft breeze is a sheer delight.
As of this writing, that particular iguana is no longer with us. They sustain a pretty serious amount of damage during the hunt, and then there's the inevitable tug-of-war our smaller dog tries to get involved.
Yeah, dachshunds are bred to go underground into badger's dens to kill them. Very tough little dogs. It's funny because Pickle is about the laziest puppy I've ever had, but as soon as there's any prey about he turns into a pint-sized assassin.