Green Iguana, Sanibel, File Photo By John Piekos, Via Creative Commons.
Green Iguana, Sanibel, File Photo By John Piekos, Via Creative Commons.

Sanibel: Invasive Nile Monitor Lizards & Green Iguanas

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Invasive Nile Monitor Lizard, Sanibel, File Photo By dmitri_66, Via Creative Commons.

Invasive Nile Monitor Lizard, Sanibel, File Photo By dmitri_66, Via Creative Commons.

City Council Approves Funding For Eradication Of Invasive Nile Monitor Lizards & Green Iguanas On Sanibel.

At the December 2nd meeting, the Sanibel City Council approved a budget amendment for the appropriation of $20,000 to fund services related to eradicating Green Iguanas and Nile Monitor Lizards within the city limits.

James Evans, Director Of Natural Resources, briefed the board about the invasive species on the island.

The cold spell of several years ago ” knocked the iguana population” back a bit.

“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. 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.  This occurred again in January 2010 after a prolonged cold front once again hit southern Florida (more here).”

The green iguana population has now rebounded on Sanibel and iguanas are a significant presence at several locations on the island including the Sanibel Island Golf Club.  The program is not intended to eradicate green iguanas on Sanibel, but is designed to manage the population.

Nile Monitor Lizards are an even bigger concern for Sanibel & Captiva.

Invasive Nile Monitor Lizard, Sanibel, File Photo By Rainer Voegeli, Via Creative Commons.

Invasive Nile Monitor Lizard, Sanibel, File Photo By Rainer Voegeli, Via Creative Commons.

“Introduced to southern Florida through illegal breeding and exotic pet smuggling, the Nile monitor lizard is on a rampage, devouring native wildlife and domestic pets at will.”  They can grow to more than 7 feet.  Please see the accompanying  video of Nile Monitor Lizards via Animal Planet.

It is unknown if there are currently Nile Monitor Lizards on Sanibel.   A Nile Monitor Lizard was hit and killed by a police vehicle near Roadside Park several years ago and it is believed that this was the same animal that was seen in a pond adjacent to the Sanibel River and near Rabbit Road during the same period.

No Nile Monitor Lizards have recently been sighted on Sanibel, but they are major presence in Cape Coral and the Department of Natural Resources intends to remain vigilant and act aggressively to eradicate any presence of the lizards.

Any sighting of or indication of Nile Monitor Lizard presence on Sanibel should be immediately reported to the City of Sanibel with as much specificity about location and activity as possible.

Featured photo by John Piekos via Creative Commons.


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