Green iguana a bad dinner choice, warn officials

| 08/05/2014

(CNS): A mass green iguana death in the Vulgunners Pond area of West Bay has led government officials to issue a warning about eating the invasive species for dinner. The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) said in a release that no one should eat any green iguanas, especially from the West Bay area, until the cause of death of thirty iguanas has been solved. The sudden death of the iguanas concentrated in one area was reported on 28 April to the DEH, which, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DoA), is now investigating the cause of death.

To help determine why the invasive iguanas suddenly died the DoA and the DEH organised a necropsy of one of the dead iguanas but when the reasons for the die off could not be determined immediately, tissue samples were sent overseas for analysis in order to ensure that the cause of death poses no threat to human health and safety.

The public in the meantime is being advised to refrain from consuming green iguana meat and to contact the DOE at 949-8469, if they notice similar localised die-offs in their area. 

Iguana is a common dish in some Central American countries and the arrival of the invasive species in Cayman has often been attributed to people bringing the reptile into the country as a food source.

Until recently however, this invasive and pervasive species of iguana was inadvertently protected by the laws which were enacted to conserve Cayman’s own rare and endangered blue iguanas on Grand Cayman and rock iguanas on the Sister Islands. The green’s rapid colonisation of Grand Cayman however, led to a change in the law which now allows for their extermination though promised culls by the department of agriculture of the iguanas have failed to materialize.

The consumption of their meat however, has always been high risk as they are believed to carry dangerous bacteria and there have been numerous reports of pet dogs dying after catching the reptiles and consuming the raw flesh.

For further information on food safety, please contact DEH at 949-6696.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Green iguana is a bad dinner choice? When was it ever a good choice?

  2. bearbaiter says:

    Don't eat green iguanas? What are we to do, wait till they ripen??

  3. Anonymous says:

    "Green Iguana – It's whats for Dinner"

  4. Anonymous says:

    If anyone finds out what is killing them, let me know. I want to use some around my yard. I am sick and tired of paying extra to get my pool cleaned and tired of having all of my plants eaten, not to mention the smelly nasty poop everywhere..

    Government should license people to go out and cull them. They are nothing but a nuisance and a pest.

    • Observer. says:

      I don't know why all the fuse. I am sure chicken and cows have bacteria too. They could catch the healthy ones and eat them. The bacteria is really found in their claws. I saw a Honduran prepared his meal the other day. They cut off the claws, the tip of the tail, the head, and with a razor knife cut the torso. You then clean them out just like you would a turkey or chicken. You don't eat the skin. The good meat is in the arms, legs, fat part of the tail, and torso.  

  5. Anonymous says:

    A liscensed indivudual with a air rifle is the best solution. Trained where is safe to shoot.

  6. Fred Burton says:

    I should add, if it is true that some pet dogs have died or been sickened from eating green iguanas, this might be because they eat the whole creature, guts and all.

    Green iguanas are hebivores and eat a very wide range of plants, including many plants which are extremely poisonous to mammals (e.g.  humans and dogs). Iguanas are immune to many plant toxins (our Blue Iguanas love manchineel fruits for example), and plants which are poisonous to mammals are quite likely to be present in the stomachs of green iguanas.

    So a dog eating a whole green iguana might sometimes swallow enough plant material toxic to mammals, to lead to serious poisoning.

    Having said that. I have watched neighbourhood dogs eating green iguanas around where I live, and the dogs seem none the worse for it.

    • Animaliberator says:

      Chemicals Fred, I dare say trust me on this one. I just hope the Goverment is open and honest enough to make the result public with printed original proof from the lab having done the research. Like you said, iguanas are highly resistant to poisonous plants etc. so this has got to be sometning they have never ingested before. Chemicals have a funny way of killng someting without the victim even realizing it was there in the first place.


    • Anonymous says:

      I've persoanlly seen many, many iguanas eating meat- dead chickens on the road and other dead iguanas!!!!

  7. Fred Burton says:

    Actually there is probablly little reason to fear "dangerous bacteria" in wild green iguanas – when health screening the Blue Iguanas we have also taken a look at a few dozen wild greens from various parts of the island, and so far have found no pathogens of concern.

    For human consumption purposes, green iguanas should be handled much the same was as chickens are handled for human consumption, the risks are very similar and the same health precautions are appropriate and sufficient. The exception perhaps is that green iguanas living in polluted environments (areas where herbicides are used, for example) might not be a sensible choice for eating!

    BUT what happened in the Vulgunners Pond area is a mystery right now, so the specific health warning now is a very sensible precaution and should be taken seriously. Better safe than sorry! Hopefully the careful examination of preserved tissues and organs will cast some light on what happened, so we can then assess the implications, if any.

    • Animaliberator says:

      Good points Fred, particular the one where you state the use of herbi- and/or pesticides. The way we use these chemicals is out of control. Paraquat is frequently used in West Bay and is hard to detect at first in any sick animal. It would not surprise me at all when the result comes back from the labs overseas it was Paraquat or Strichnine. It is quite likely that after the chemical application took place for whatever stupid reason, the rain will do the rest by infecting a large area of land and/or water. We lost 5 dogs like this in 1985 in exactly the same fashion. Many other animal lovers have lost their pooches the same way for as long as I can remember.

      One may not like the iguanas or chickens for that matter but this hardly the way to get rid of them. I said it before and I will say it again; Chemicals will get us sooner or later, directly orindirectly. For miraculous reasons it has still limited the use  killing animals but is is very likely that these infected iguanas in this case easily could have taken out a number of humans. Well, perhaps then the Goverment will get serious in banning a whole host of chemicals currently used by just about anyone that wants to use them without any restriction, again for whatever stupid reason they may come up with.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps it is the mosquito poison?

  9. Anonymous says:

    "dangerous bacteria" … but that is if the iguana is not prepared and cook well. there are many people in latin countries that eat iguanas and they are not dead. so what sort of "dangerous" are they talkin about.  CNS can you be more specific?

    CNS Note: The ones that killed the dogs that ate them……

    • Knot S Smart says:

      Oh Dear…

      This poster needs a comprehensive course in reading and comprehension…

      • Anonymous says:

        The fact that the poster referred to latin countries might have indicated to you that english is not his/her first language.  Maybe you should post something sensible that actually addresses the subject matter.  Oh sorry, you may need a course in reading and comprehension so you can figure out what the subject matter is.  Here's a clue….it's about iguanas 😉

  10. Anonymous says:

    I hope the authorities can find out what killed these green iguanas and then figure out how to give the problem to the rest of this green plague.

  11. Anonymous says:

    A partnership between the private sector and govt.should try and eliminate these pest,humanely.I try not to kill them,but they are becoming a real pest in my yard.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are a nusiance, destroying everything in the garden or yard.  Government should supply the slings or whatever is needed to cull them.  

      Help us survive from the predators – Green Iguanas.

      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps you shouldfind a different word for them. You are the predator. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I wish other tings in Cayman could be so easily eliminated.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would suggest that the building of your house was MUCH more of a pest for 'your yard' than an army of iguanas of any color could ever be. Food for thought, eh?