If you’re on the back porch of your home in Florida and see a green iguana, officials with one state agency say you should feel free to kill it.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in a news release, says people should exterminate the large green lizards on their properties as well as on 22 public lands areas across South Florida
“Homeowners do not need a permit to kill iguanas on their own property,” the Commission wrote on their website. “The FWC encourages homeowners to kill green iguanas on their own property whenever possible.”
Green iguanas are an invasive species and have threatened plants and animals native to the Sunshine State. The males can grow to at least 5 feet long and weigh nearly 20 pounds.
The commission says female iguanas can lay nearly 80 eggs a year. They are allowed to be kept as pets but are not protected by any law except anti-cruelty to animals.
It is unknown how many green iguanas are in the state, but numbers have been substantial enough to make the FWC host workshops on how to handle these pesky reptiles.
Like other non-native species, authorities say iguanas brought to Florida as pets or hitchhiking on ships have begun to flourish in the state. Another invasive species, the Burmese python, is wreaking havoc in the Everglades because the big snakes eat almost anything and have no natural predators in the U.S. save for the occasional alligator.
Iguanas are allowed to be kept as pets in Florida but are not protected by any law except anti-cruelty to animals, according to the commission. They’ve been in South Florida since the 1960s, but their numbers have increased dramatically in recent years.
Some have been reported in northern parts of Florida, but because they do poorly in colder weather their spread is somewhat more limited there, the commission says. During cold snaps, including in South Florida, iguanas will frequently drop from trees and appear dead, but left alone they will revive.
Iguana owners who can no longer care for their pets are encouraged by the wildlife commission to surrender them to the agency under an Exotic Pet Amnesty Program that lines up the animals with people willing to adopt them.
Those planning on shooting one should make sure to do it humanely. Cases throughout Florida have appeared of drowning or freezing iguanas, but such tactics are against animal cruelty laws, according to a study conducted by the University of Florida earlier this year.