Managing Iguanas: Florida’s Green Lizard


IguanaIguanas can cause damage by eating valuable landscape plants, shrubs, and trees, as well as orchids and many other flowers. They can also dig burrows next to seawalls and foundations, increasing the chance of erosion and eventual collapse. The droppings of iguanas along decks and docks and sometimes in swimming pools is also a frequent complaint.

Although green iguanas are not native to Florida, they are thriving in the warm South Florida climate. Iguanas are typically not aggressive, but they will defend themselves against pets and against people who try to catch or corner them. Iguanas can bite, scratch, or strike with their powerful tails. Since they are mostly herbivorous (plant eating), iguanas are probably here to stay. Our multidisciplinary working group has the following recommendations to allow us to coexist with these fascinating reptiles. As with all wildlife, iguanas are protected by anticruelty laws, and inhumane treatment of them is punishable by law.

How To Discourage Iguanas


  • Never feed iguanas.
  • Protect plants with cages or screen enclosures.
  • IguanaUse iguana-resistant plants such as citrus, milkweed, pigeon plum, oleanders, coonties, etc., in your landscape.
  • Install sheet-metal cylinders approximately 18 inches from the base of trees to prevent iguanas from climbing.
  • Create an L-shaped wire barrier along the bottom of seawalls and other fixed objects to prevent iguanas from digging underneath.

Habitat Modification

  • Avoid planting iguana favorites such as hibiscus, orchids, impatiens, roses, garden greens, melons, etc.
  • Remove protective cover such as dense thickets and piles of landscape timber or rocks.
  • Fill vacant burrows with rocks.

Humane Discouragement

  • Keep a water hose ready and available to spray basking iguanas on pool decks or boats.
  • A startling noise will also create an unwelcome atmosphere for a sunning iguana that feels a bit too much at home poolside.
  • Hang CDs near seawalls or dangle them like wind chimes from trees or prized plants. Their reflective surfaces often scare away iguanas.


For more tips and information on coexisting with iguanas, visit these Websites: