Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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The Finer Points of Iguana Whacking

Recently, more than 100 interested persons attended a symposium
at the Palm Beach (Florida) County Cooperative Extension Service
building to learn how to help control one of those troublesome
species that has become increasingly prolific in parks and
residential yards-the iguana.

Sold as pets for decades, iguanas now exist in large breeding
populations and number in the hundreds of thousands in the area
south of Orlando. The Palm Beach gathering focused on how regular
folks can harass, euthanize and basically control the nuisance

“Whack them in the head, stun them and then decapitate them,”
explained Bill Kern Jr., University of Florida professor of
entomology and nematology. “(But) whack them in the head more than
once and it’s animal cruelty.”

Kern explained that the biggest problems associated with the South
and Central American reptiles include the fact that it deposits
about a pound of feces daily and loves to munch on ornamental
plants like hibiscus and orchids.

The Stewart News reported that one man in the audience asked Kern
about the use of specific instruments for iguana whacking.

“Can you whack them with a machete?” he queried, drawing roars of
laughter from the crowd.

Kamikazee Iguanas

This week, as temperatures plunged to near-freezing levels in
normally balmy parts of Florida, longtime residents knew it was
time to be concerned about big green lizards falling from their
regular perches in residential trees.

And, when cold temperatures occasionally come to south Florida,
watch for the falling pets-gone-wild. When the thermometer falls
below 40 degrees, the cold-blooded critters automatically begin to
hibernate and gradually lose their grip, sometimes falling 20 or 30
feet before hitting the ground with a thud.

Ron Magill of Miami Metrozoo had a warning for those who find
chilled-but still quite alive-iguanas.

“I knew of a gentleman who was collecting them off the street and
throwing them in the back of his station wagon, and all of a sudden
these things are coming alive, crawling on his back and almost
caused a wreck,” Magill said.

“It’s almost like they go totally to sleep,” he said. “Generally
speaking, if it warms up afterwards, they can recover.”

But not if you “whack” ‘em first!

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