- In the Family Iguanidae, they’re a kind of lizard, and lizards are reptiles. Lizards have what their snake relatives lack: ears, eyelids, four legs. Their lizard tongues serve as both organs of taste and odor detection.
- Tropical, omnivorous, arboreal, quiet and diurnal (daylight creatures; inactive in dark), iguanas can weigh 25-30 pounds and grow to six feet or more – mostly tail. They have pointy scales along their back and males have dewlap. Life span: about 20 years.
- Iguanas may forage and bask in groups. They love to bathe, swimming like snakes with legs against their bodies. To elude enemies, they can stay under water for about 30 minutes.
Just before coming home, I was disturbed to see a sad story in the Virgin Islands Daily News about iguanas. The government of Puerto Rico plans to capture and kill them, then sell their meat. Reason(s): iguanas are not native to that island (even thought elsewhere in the Caribbean, they’re a protected species); they outnumber the human population . . . and (believe it or not) the bad economy makes the idea appealing.
So now Puerto Rico’s looking for a company to “process” iguanas that would be hunted or trapped and kept alive for the slaughtering process. As I see it, PR aims to treat iguanas the way “food animals” are treated here in the US and everywhere else factory farming takes place. Horrible.
Then again, I’m not too surprised. Only a few years ago, Puerto Rico earned notoriety for killing hundreds of pets – cats and dogs – in the most barbaric way.
Now the island is “moving right along” with iguanas, apparently no more enlightened, or compassionate, than before.
Luis Chaluisan is a contributing writer to PRSUN. He is the editor in chief of salsamagazine.com.