ORLANDO, Fla. – Iguanas are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem in parts of Florida and now, wildlife officials are asking residents to take matters into their own hands.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission website says that the green lizards are considered invasive and can be killed without a permit.
While the scaly creatures are known to frequent the southern part of the state where the temperatures stay warm nearly year-round, they've also been spotted in Orlando, Sanford, Ormond Beach and other Central Florida cities. The map at the bottom of this story pinpoints where credible sightings have been reported.
Where the iguanas are, destruction tends to follow. Wildlife officials say the cold-blooded critters eat commercial landscaping and foliage, dig burrows that cause sidewalks, seawalls and more to collapse, threaten endangered species and litter the area with droppings.
But just because iguanas are legal to kill, doesn't mean you can resort to methods that are cruel or could cause suffering.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the goal is to end the lizard's life instantly, usually by a single blow to the head or with an air pellet gun. Freezing was once an accepted practice, but that changed once researchers realized that the animal could feel pain.
Just be warned that iguanas can grow more than 5 feet long and have strong tails that can deliver fierce whips.
For those who find the killing notion to be barbaric, there's always the option to capture the creature and transport it to a local veterinarian to be euthanized. Just don't try to relocate the reptile.
Before it gets to that point, there are steps to take to deter iguanas from taking up residence on your property.
FWC experts suggest hanging windchimes, filling in holes to discourage burrowing and removing plants lizards on which could feast. Spraying iguanas with water could also keep them away.
For more information about iguanas in Florida, click here.