History of Key West and the Iguana

When we first moved here before the hurricane hit, we lived at Key by the Sea, which the neighbors and staff were very friendly, I miss living there because of the neighbors, the rec room, and again the people who lived there where great, very neighborly to say the least, anyway although I was told not to, I befriended an Iguana, hey I’m from upstate NY, to me he was great.  I started to love him actually, I know that Floridians find them a nuisance but he had personality, and kept me company during the day. In the morning I would whistle to him and he would show up every time.  I’ll admit, sometimes when he charged at me, he was scary, but he was in a hurry to see me, greet me, or maybe it was the food, but he always ran when other people came around, but was very relaxed around me.  I would hang my laundry out to dry, and he would lay around very close and watch me.  He was never afraid when snapping cloths to hang up.  He just knew I was not going to hurt him.

After the hurricane we came back and our trailer was ruined so we had to move, I haven’t seen him since but our old neighbors said they saw him around which made me very happy to hear he survived.  I miss him.  His name was Charlie and I’m including some videos of him and pics.  Hope you enjoy, and LOVE YOUR IGUANA’S and know that the vacationers find them cool, which is a tourist attraction of sorts, which bring money to the islands, which is always a good thing!


Also while living with him I started a FB Page for him, although I don’t update it anymore here’s the link if interested: https://www.facebook.com/groups/459988644385106/ 

Green iguanas were first reported in Florida in the 1960s in Hialeah, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne along Miami-Dade County’s southeastern coast. Green iguana populations now stretch along the Atlantic Coast in Broward, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties and along the Gulf Coast in Collier and Lee Counties. There have also been reports as far north as Alachua, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River and St. Lucie Counties. However, individuals observed in more northern counties are likely escaped or released captive animals and are unlikely to establish populations, as iguanas are not cold hardy. In cleared habitats such as canal banks and vacant lots, green iguanas reside in burrows, culverts, drainage pipes and rock or debris piles. South Florida’s extensive man-made canals serve as ideal dispersal corridors to further allow iguanas to colonize new areas.

Green iguanas were first reported in Florida in the 1960s in Hialeah, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne along Miami-Dade County’s southeastern coast. Green iguana populations now stretch along the Atlantic Coast in Broward, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties and along the Gulf Coast in Collier and Lee Counties. There have also been reports as far north as Alachua, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River and St. Lucie Counties. However, individuals observed in more northern counties are likely escaped or released captive animals and are unlikely to establish populations, as iguanas are not cold hardy. In cleared habitats such as canal banks and vacant lots, green iguanas reside in burrows, culverts, drainage pipes and rock or debris piles. South Florida’s extensive man-made canals serve as ideal dispersal corridors to further allow iguanas to colonize new areas.

United States

The green iguana is established on Oahu and Maui, Hawaii, as a feral species (despite strict legislation banning the importation of any reptiles)[51][52] and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.[18] As most reptiles carry salmonella, this is a concern and a reason legislation has been sought to regulate the trade in green iguanas.[10]

Due to a combination of events, the green iguana is considered an invasive species in South Florida and is found along the east coast as well as the Gulf Coast of Florida from Key West to Pinellas County.[10][25][53] The original small populations in the Florida Keys were stowaways on ships carrying fruit from South America.[54] Over the years, other iguanas were introduced into the wild, mostly originating through the pet trade. Some escaped and some were intentionally released by their owners; these iguanas survived and then thrived in their new habitat.[53] They commonly hide in the attics of houses and on beaches. They often destroy gardens and landscaping.[53] They seem to be fond of eating a native endangered plant, Cordia globosa and feeding on nickernut (Caesalpinia) a primary food plant of the endangered Miami blue butterfly (Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri); additionally on Marco Island, green iguanas have been observed using the burrows of the Florida burrowing owl, a species of special concern, all of which can make them more of a serious threat to Florida’s ecosystem than originally believed.[10][54]

In January 2008, large numbers of iguanas established in Florida dropped from the trees in which they lived, due to uncommonly cold nights that put them in a state of torpor and caused them to lose their grip on the tree branches.[55] Though no specific numbers were provided by local wildlife officials, local media described the phenomenon as a “frozen iguana shower” in which dozens “littered” local bike paths. Upon the return of daytime warmth many (but not all) of the iguanas “woke up” and resumed their normal activities.[56] This occurred again in January 2010 and January 2018 after a prolonged cold front once again hit southern Florida.[57][58]

CHARLIE
CHARLIE