Are Iguanas Native to Florida? (Animal Answers)

In this guide, we’ll answer the question:

“Are iguanas native to Florida?”

First, you’ll find a short summary explaining where iguanas originated from, then learn about why iguanas are causing problems in Florida and what has led to an increase in their population.

Iguanas are herbivorous lizards in the order of Squamata group in the class of Reptilia and can be found in many tropical areas of the world; not just in Florida.

Are Iguanas Native to Florida

Are Iguanas Native to Florida?

Iguanas are not native to Florida and are considered to be an invasive species to the Florida peninsula. The subtropical climate of Florida has allowed Green iguanas to thrive and reproduce but iguanas of all species are not protected in Florida, except by anticruelty laws.

Where Did Iguanas In Flordia Come From?

Iguanas in Florida came from Central and South America, specifically the countries of Brazil and Mexico. The first case of Green iguanas coming to Florida was reported in the 1960s in Miami-Dade county.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Green iguanas were first discovered 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. “

A peer-reviewed publication on the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, website, indicates that “an exotic pet dealer is known to have purposely released more than 300 of [Green iguanas] in [the Miami area] in 1964. Since then, additional intentional and unintentional releases of pet iguanas have likely contributed to their spread in peninsular Florida.”

Why Are Iguanas a Problem In Florida?

Iguanas are a problem in Florida because these reptiles cause damage to buildings, commercial and residential landscape vegetation, electrical systems causing power outages, and dig burrows that erode or collapse sidewalks, foundations, seawalls, berms, and canal banks. 

Because of the constant problems Green iguanas cause in Folrida, these exotic reptiles have been decried as a pest that poses a threat to daily life and infrastructure.

Why Are There So Many Iguanas In Florida?

There are so many Iguanas in Florida because these reptiles are an invasive species that have exploded in population due to Florida’s subtropical climate and lack of natural predators. Green iguanas, especially, are growing in numbers at a faster rate than usual for their species.

Learn More About Iguanas

Now that you know more about iguanas and Florida, you may also be interested in these other educational guides on these exotic reptiles:

Florida Iguana

Iguanas Native to Florida Summary

You now know are iguanas native to Florida.

As you discovered in this guide, Green iguanas are an invasive species that did not originate from the Florida peninsula.