Green Iguana days numbered

| 02/03/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly(CNS): After years of unintended protection enabling the Green Iguana to flourish, the law is about to be amended to enable the reptilian pest to be controlled. Although the endangered Blue Iguana, which is indigenous to Grand Cayman, and the Rock Iguana, endemic to the Sister Islands, will remain protected under the Animals Law, the green lizard, which is not native and multiplying in numbers on an almost daily basis, will no longer be protected once government brings an amendment to the law. The decision to change the legislation came as a result of a private member’s motion brought to the Legislative Assembly yesterday by the opposition.

The motion brought by Alden McLaughlin on Monday (1 March) and seconded by Anthony Eden seeks to remove the current protection of the Green Iguana to enable the species to be controlled as a result of the increasing proliferation of the reptile and the amount of damage it does to crops and gardens.

The current law protects all iguanas, as the offending lizard was not present on the islands in the 1970s when the Animal Law was first enacted. While the purpose of that law has been to protect Cayman’s extremely rare and placid indigenous iguanas, the aggressive green iguana was unintentionally caught up in the protective net.  

McLaughlin said that both the Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) and the Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila Caymanensis) would remain protected, while his motion proposed to enable the Green Iguana to be controlled properly, offering some relief to gardeners, farmers and the islands’ wildlife in general.

The motion was supported on both sides of the House as it was agreed that the iguana is a pest which is currently out of control and certainly poses a threat to the local environment in many ways.

During the debate on the motion, McLaughlin noted why the issue had not been tackled beforehand as it seemed obvious to many people that the lizard needed to be culled. He pointed out that the removal of the protection was written in to the National Conservation Bill, which was derailed as a result of controversies surrounding other issues in that bill that have not yet been passed. McLaughlin said that, given the increasing problem with the green lizard, its population having increased significantly since Hurricane Ivan, it seemed sensible to change the existing Animals Law now as an interim measure before the conservation law is enacted.

The government recently stated that the conservation bill was returning to the discussion phase and therefore there is little hope that it will become law any time soon.

“While people obviously want to take measures to control these pests, they fall foul of the law if they do …The problem is obvious and the solution is quite clear,” McLaughlin said to the agreement of the House.

Mark Scotland, the minster with responsibility for the environment, said that he would consult with the relevant departments and seek to amend the necessary legislation as soon as possible. He noted that government had to ensure that if the creatures were to be culled that it would be done so humanely and a proper programme would need to be put in place. “It will be important to deal with the problem properly and we will need a collaborative approach,” Scotland said.

Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts also added to the debate and said while he was reluctant to use the expression it was probably time to “annihilate them”.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why have the Hondurians eat them when we could possible export them to Hondorus for money? Here you go Mac, another revenue generating idea to take down that $56M deficit 🙂


  2. HRC says:

    I’m colour blind so why should I be discriminated against, I want to kill iguanas to.

    So frankly I don’t care about the colour,  an igauna is an igauna,

    Lets kill ’em all!

  3. Richard Wadd says:

     I do believe the green and ‘orange & grey’ are one and the same, as it seems to be some kind of ‘mating-season’ transformation.

     Perhaps we can use the ‘meat’ to  ‘stretch’ our Tuttle-stoo? I bet they both taste like chicken anyway.

    • Anon says:

      YUCK! They are SO GROSS to even look at! I couldn’t imagine putting that in my stomach! OMG! I definitely eat with my eyes! If it don’t look good from the very beginning, it aint going no where near my mouth!

  4. Anonymous says:

    When I came to live here in the 70s we had a problem with rats and wild dogs. Somehow we managed to cull the rats and dogs to a more tolerable level. Then after Hurricane Gilbert the wild chickens arrived. May God bless whomever brought them, because they provided us with highly nutritious eggs and lots of good topsoil. Then after Hurricane Ivan the Iguanas came in abundance.

    For some reason some people decided that our chickens were a pest so they were almost eridicated XXX.

    Now we want to eradicate the Iguanas.

    Whats wrong with you people. Everything the Lord sends us you want to eradicate.

    Maybe we need to eradicate some of the people who are complaining about our natural resources.

    I think we need to eradicate those useless politicians who messed this country up and leave the chickens and Iguanas alone. Who knows, when the Politicians have finished with us we may very well need to have the chickens and Iguanas to turn to for food.

  5. Civil Dialogue says:

    Back in 2004 I contacted the department of environment TWICE as I was greatly concerned with the profusion (hundreds small and large) of green iguanas that were being raised on a property in WestBay (off Bolting Avenue). Unfortunately nothing was done.

    I trust this is a well learnt exercise and, in the future WE WILL carefully consider keeping, controlling or eradicating any new creature to these islands.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It was amusing to see a hen, rooster and two chicks hurrying  from the George Town Post Office  after collecting mail and checks – and proudly strolling across the road to the Bank of Nova Scotia, to either make their deposit or withdrawal and mingling with the crowds;  Never afraid of the cars or trucks. 

    They moved down Elgin Avenue and stopped at the Craft Market to pickup morsels.  While driving around town they were seen moving in the direction of  North Church Street. I would imagine,!! they were paying the Caymanian usual hospitality to  the Cruiseship passengers.  (LOL)

    They chose not carry guns or take the lives of human beings – this is just an example of how the Cayman Islands should  be, going about their business without  fear.   




    • Anonymouse says:

      I know of a small Restaurant on Highway 60 near to Kissimee, Florida where there are plenty of wild chickens surrounding the building. They have chicken feed dispensers similiar to the ones that dispense bubble gum where you can insert a quarter, collect a handful of cracked corn and just relax after a long drive across Florida and feed the chickens. They are so tame that you can touch them.

      I always enjoy stopping there for a bite and some relaxation before continuing on my journey, yet locally we want to eradicate them.

      Wild chickens are probably our best resource and anyone who hates them will equally hate humans.

      Just leave them alone. Enough get run over on our Roads or killed by dogs everyday to control their population.

      They are also great at reducing the amount of bush fires we get during the dry season because they bury the dry brush while scratching. If you doubt that check the Fire Department statistics.

  7. "Green Idea" says:

    I once heard that the population of Green Iguanas had depleted in Honduras.  Maybe just maybe as someone previously suggested, the National Trust and other organisations could in fact contact these areas to verify, the truth behind all this, and enter into some agreement in having our "dear greens" shippedthere for breeding instead of eradicating them.

    What about the grey and orange tailed iguanas which we’ve learnt is native to Cuba?.  Do we ship them back or eradicate those also.?


    • Anonymous says:

      It’s true, there is actually a law that prohibits to hunt iguanas in Honduras, so definitely they would want them there.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Thank goodness  is right. I hate all animals. The new tiki restaurant on SMB has the right idea… pave it all.  Don’t give the little creeps anywhere to hide. If we can just survive wildlife long enough to get every inch of the island paved, we will have a chance to have good lives and be happy.

    then we can start working on the ocean menace!

    • au revoir says:

      hillarious.  the one who gave you the thumbs must not have passed english 101, where things such as sarcasm are discussed…

    • Anonymous says:

      lol  like your sense of  humour

    • Joe Average says:

      There are fish and birds who don’t belong here!!!  Even some plants!!!  But then neither does a Hummer or a car that goes 150 mph.  It’s those I’m worried about.

  9. Scrooge McDuck says:


    100 cans blue spray paint

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey great idea maybe we could use some red too then we would have a new species leave them alone lets get rid of some of the people with the guns now that would be a better subject to talk about.And green iguana’s are a lot smarter than the blue’s a least they can climb a tree!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Can’t we do something about the chickens too?

    • Survivor says:

       Farm the Chickens, stock up on eggs and poultry for the next hurricane.

      I built a two story chicken coup… clean feed, clean eggs, and clean poultry…



      • Anonymous says:

        We should be taking care of the chickens you chicken hater. They lay the most nutrirous eggs of any chicken. I eat them and dont buy the poisonous ones from the Supermarket. Plus they turn all our dead vegetation into nutrituous soil. Something we dont have much of anywhere.

        • MCF says:

          I’m not sure if you’re joking or not, but regardless, I would like to share a little bit of knowledge.

          Small farms ordinarily take much better care of chickens than mass-produced, extensive farming systems. About 3/4 of chickens in these mass systems are not even dead (due to failure of electrocution) before they are bled out. Laying hens are allotted roughly 1/4 m^2 each, living for ~1 year before they are slaughtered. Before their death, they will lay about 300 eggs… in the wild, chickens lay about 40 – 50 eggs a year. And as for chickens raised for strictly meat.. they walk in their own feces for the whole 7 weeks before they are slaughtered.. the litter is never changed. As a result, many die from infections, or from inhaling large amounts of ammonia. None of these chickens ever see the light of day; their entire life circumstances are artificially controlled.

          Therefore, theoretically, a smaller farm would ensure more humane conditions & endings to their lives since there will be exponentially more supervision. Plus, if more people start minding chickens there won’t be as many carcasses on the road… I’m sure the smell of rotting poultry is very appealing to the cruise ship tourists.

          As for your comment about chickens laying the most nutritious eggs of any chicken… maybe I am just tired, but you honestly lost me. 

          P.S. Getting back to the iguana issue, it would not be a bad idea to explore how to farm them as well. This would hopefully prevent brutal slaying, e.g. bashing their heads in, the preferred method for some.

    • Anonymous says:

      You could try eating them, apparently chicken is quite nice

      • Anonymous3 says:

        With the price of chicken at the supermarkets, I would say eat them. The wild chickens taste good.  You just need to use a pressure pot otherwise their meat is tough.  Anyone who needs directions, i will be glad to help.

  11. Animaliberator says:

    Whether it be in Cayman or elswhere, exotic animals are being shipped around the planet to please people who seem to want one of whatever description. Regardless of how the animal arrived here, usually via pet stores who seem to have an allowance to import just about everything they want or it could have been smuggled in. Very few, if any just arrive here without anybody’s help. Most if not all of these animals do not belong here and yet we seem to wait until the critter becomes a problem and then the guns come out of the closet, even when we look at at our own wild life population such as our local parrot and the agouti that seems to be happening to attempt to solve the problem.

    I have a feeling that the moment it’s open season on the green iguana in this case, all hell will break out. They will get run over by the thousands on the roads the same way we see dead chickens all over the place which will become a total bloody mess all over the island.

    It would be wise not to do this in this fashion. If culling is inevitable, based on the average opinion, the government should appoint one or more specialized, well trained individuals to do this kind of of work similar to the way it is done in south Florida. The have just one specialized licensed hunter who kills approximately 16,000 iguana’a each year until there is control again all by himself.

    The protective law should therefore remain in place as it is in Florida too, to prevent random killing and the possibility of people killing our blues as well as a lot of people do not know the difference between the two species, juveniles in particular.

  12. Anonymous says:

    About Time!


    Anybody want some green iguanas I have plently!

  13. Chicken hater says:

    next up….. chickens?

    Great news, but now what about the wild chickens? These are as much a nuisance as iguanas, and make Cayman look like a 3rd world country. It’s time to declare open season on wild chickens!

  14. Anonymous says:

    If you have many of the green lizards call the Dept of Argriculture – they should be able to safely remove them.


    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, they will euthanize them and throw them in the land fill. What a waste? Isn’t it best to call someone who knows how to catch them by hand and later have them for a meal. I have had Iguana run-dun. Its great.

  15. Good move says:

    Good to know we can finally kill off these pests!

    They should have a bounty on them where as people can take them down to the Turtle farm and have them sold in lots too!

    They so "facety" that one day I was throwing rocks at one HUGE one and he came after ME!! I ran inside of my house like a bat out of hell!! 🙂

    But seriously though, my cousin was sitting in a chair under a tree and the minute he got up to go inside another huge iguana slipped out of the same tree and landed directly on the chair where he was just sitting. If that beast had landed on him it would have surely tore him up – especially his face!

    God provides food sources and the same way we eat the chickens/turtles – we should enjoy the iguana!

    Anyone had "jerk iguana" before – I imagine that will be a local favourite!!



  16. Durrrr says:

    Hopefully a few of the restaurants which no longer sell stew turtle will start selling stew iguana instead. I’ve only tried it once before, but it was damn tasty!

  17. Anonymous says:

    These green iguanas are not an endangered species nor were they ever found here in the Cayman Islands until some thoughtless pet owners brought/bought them here and then let them go. No one is saying get rid of them all together but they do need to be controlled as they are more harm than good – save in the pot. If we kill them off here we can just import some more to breed and off we go again.

    Do you worry about how the fish in our seas are being killed – no I dont ever hear that – for those of us that eat iguana they will be killed like all other food is killed and we shall nyam it good.

  18. Anon says:

    Thank God! I hate those pests! They are a nuisance in every way! And you can’t drive 3 feet on the road without coming across one that’s been run over by a car. I’m so GLAD those pests are NOT protected anymore because I for one will be very happy when they have all been eradicated from these islands! Now our own might have a chance to flourish again.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Lets turn this move into a business for Caymanians. Export of GREEN iguanas! You could bring in GREEN iguanas and be paid a nominal fee per pound by your local Caymanian exporter who in turns sell iguanas to Latin American countries where there is a demand for the GREEN Iguana.

  20. Personal Responsability says:

    This is exactly the kind of Governance the country needs. Both political parties working together to solve the problems with simple solutions rather than re-inventing the wheel with long drawn out legislation that takes away the rights of the people.

    As for all the bleeding heart liberals who want to protect everything, try protecting Caymanians, Caymanian Farmers, Cayman Culture, and the Caymanian way of Life.

    Sometimes it seems tha the only thing not being protected is people.

    Once again, hats off to all our MLA’s

    • Anonymouse says:

      Which "long drawn out legislation that takes away the rights of the people" are you refering to? With examples of how it will take away our rights, please?

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps licences could be issued for individuals to hunt and kill these.I also understand that some enjoy the meat so this maybe one way to dispose of it.Also there could be competitions such as "the Great Iguana Cookoff" to come up with new ways to prepare it,and who knows ,in time we might have tourists going home and telling their friends to be sure and sample the ‘guana when they visit Cayman.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Good to see MLA’s concentraiting on the hot topics! How about amending the traffic law that too is way out of date and could actually generate some revenue for the govt instead of yet again, targeting a voiceless community, even if they are green and scaly. I know that this will be a licence for people to abuse these animals.

  22. Anonymous says:

    this seems like a simplistic and populist move, however what is it based on? is it based on legitimate research?

    although they may be a pest to some, I find all creatures fascinating and I am highly skeptical of an uneducated local politician bringing such measures without the proper research being done first….

    remember cayman has got a diabolical record when it comes the environment and conservation..

    • Anonymous says:

      Re post at 09.58. "An uneducated local politician". Perhaps you should try to explain your interpretation of educated.  And ‘research’ ?? Just let me add my two cents worth. I fully support the eradication of the green iguana – my research indicates that there are at present one on my house top, one looking in the window and two eating my plants.  They are not a welcomeaddition to  our environment.  I thank the MLAs  who brought the motion and the others who supported it.

      • Anonymous says:

        well thats ok then…thanks for your scientif analysis of the situation…… no need for any more discussion on this…. zzzzzzz.

    • Anonymous says:

      uneducated politician???? Alden is probably the brightest most educated guy we have…. it seems the person who wrote this comment knows less than nothing about what he is writing about! 

    • Anonymous says:

      This is silly.  Anyone with common sense can see that these green iguanas have become a horrible nuisance and a danger to other animals.

      Let’s sell them to Honduras or another country that eats ignuana meet.  Two birds with one stone.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why not allow the Honduranians here to catch and eat them? Or anyone who want to eat them.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Finally I might be able to once again get some ackees off my tree. I have one of the largest ackee trees on Grand Cayman and a 6 foot reptile living in it.

    I have not been able to get a meal of ackees since it took up residence in the tree quite some time now. His size alone keep me from going near the tree.


    • Anonymous says:

      You sure it’s an Iguana? How many legs it got?

    • MCF says:

       Really? Iguanas are waayyyy more afraid of you than you should be of them. They’re not going to run and attack you… they use their tails to lash as a defensive mechanism, so unless you’re within very close range of it, you really don’t have anything to fear. If it’s in your tree, it will try it’s hardest to get to the opposite side of the tree that you are on… and furthermore, if you are trying to get ripe ackees, why can’t you just poke the stem area with along (preferably forked) stick? That’s how I have to get my ackees and June plums because they are tall trees & I’m vertically challenged. Just sayin’.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Good. It certainly tastes better than turtle and there’s no shortage.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Look out Rum Cake!                

    Cayman’s new leader in export will be Iguana meat and leather goods.

  26. Praise Jesus! says:

    Thank God, I dodn’t know what I was going to do without my Turtle Stew, now I can still eat!

  27. Anonymous says:

    It’s about time!!!!

    These pesky green iguanas do, indeed, need to be "removed". Prehaps now the Honduran nationals who eat this dish will do so more freely?

    I encourage people to go to the National Trust and learn the visual differences between the green and the local iguanas. Note: mature green iguanas don’t look so green.


    Blue Iguana (protected)



    Rock Iguana (protected)

    Green Iguana (NOT protected)


  28. Anonymous says:

    That is good news in a number of ways – the people with gardens that were being destroyed will be glad.

    Now that we cannot afford to eat turtle meat we will at least be able to afford to eat "IGUANA". It will be free and it too is a delicacy.

    Sunday lunches are back again.

    • NorthSideSue says:

      Good plan!  In Belize, iguana is called bamboo chicken.

      • Anonymous says:

        This would make a welcome change, now we wont have to hide and eat the Iguanas in fear of the law.

  29. Al Gizzore says:

    Pass the CONSERVATION BILL! We need to protect the little bit of environment that we have left.

    P.S. Will North Siders and East Enders be able to apply for guns to shoot green iguanas as well?

  30. Tom McCallum says:

    There are numerous areas in our daily lives in Cayman where some very minor changes in laws / regulations could be used to improve things with little or no cost to government.

    This is one very simple one and is highly overdue. It is unfortunate, however, that the current climate re crime is such that responsible citizens cannot now apply for gun licences (even for air guns or .22s), as I would happily now start wiping out the greens where I live from an upper floor window !

    In case anyone gets upset at that last part, I note that I fully understand why no new licences can be so issued for anything even resembling a gun (eg an air rifle)… butin absence of such weapons, suggestions are welcomed for how to catch the hundreds of greens at a canal development.. chase them and they just jump in the water and swim away !  

    • Dennis Smith says:

      Archery? It going to take a very efficient hunting method, Traps and snares are probably inefficient, time consuming and too costly to be realistic. We shouldn’t be squeamish about how we hunt the green Iguana if we want make a real dent in its population. Human kill millions of Cattle and chickens every day for food, no reason way we shouldn’t look at the Iguana as a food resource. I would like to see it become a popular dish in Cayman.

      I actually like seeing the Greens hanging around the hotels, it makes Cayman look a little Jungle like and tropical for the tourists.  Unfortunately they reproduce so rapidly that I am worried that this problem will always be with us unless they are very seriously controlled. I gather that our entire population started with a single pair! In the countries where they are native they have natural predators that keep the population in balance, here they don’t, so they can’t be left unchecked.

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      Re: “I note that I fully understand why no new licences can be so issued for anything even resembling a gun (eg an air rifle)…”

      Why do you think no new licenses can be issued?

    • Anonymous says:

      Try moving to Alaska, they have no green Iguanas!

  31. Anonymous says:

    I just hope that any legislation for this will make sure that it is done in a humane way!

    • Night Flyer says:

      Leave em alone,they were on the earth before humans,we have no right to murder them just because some people think they are a pest. 

      Thou shalt not kill.    

      • Anonymous says:

        They were on earth before humans but not on Cayman before humans therefore the other animals and plants on Cayman haven’t gone through evolution to protect themselves from these animals, its like bringing tigers or lions here and saying they were here first while they eat your kids.  Fine don’t kill them, gather them together and ship them back to where they came from.

        • Night Flyer says:


          03/02/2010  16.13

          So why why bother to protect them first place? When did they first arrive? And,no comparison to lions/tigers we are not talking about man eaters.  

  32. Anonymous says:

    Now if they would only declare open season on the rest of the undesirables!

  33. Bobby Anonymous says:

    Go figure! We wait and wait and wait for the conservation law to be passed to protect ALL wildlife and flora, but in a fick of the eye we can pass a law to kill off the green Iguana.

    I hope you realise every iguana eating person will be shooting them with spear guns or using hook sticks or whatever method to catch them.

    You think not? Watch!!

    Please explain to me what damage they relly do other than take a dump in your swimming pools. And don’t tell me that they eat all the indiginous birds eggs. If they did where is the proof, and why do we have so many chickens running around?

    Contol the Iguanas but don’t wipe them out.

    "Iguana please with rice and beans", thats going to look great on the tourist menu.

    • Anonymous says:

      They can take all of them at my house.  I got fed-up trying to do my vegetable garden and besides, they kill your big papaya trees by eating out all of the new blooms from the center and fill up your window outside with their pooh.  I think they killing should be done in a humane way though.

    • Anonymouse says:

      Becasue a chicken egg is much larger than the eggs of our native birds, like the bana quits or even the nightengales. Not that green iguanas eat "all" the eggs, but they will take eggs and the smaller ones in trees will naturally be prefered over the larger ones on the ground with a big hen sitting on them.

      Invasive Species 2 – Local Species 0

  34. Anonymous says:

    Everyone knows the Conservation Law will not be passed anytime soon as it could become a roadblock to developers and others looking to cash in on the environment at the expense of the country.

    These lawmakers talk out of both sides of their mouths and will pick and choose laws to enact for voters but will ignore the big picture.

    Chuckie certainly won’t march on the glass house for the environment.