TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — More than 4,000 green iguanas were caught in southern Taiwan last year, raising fears that the invasive species is growing out of control, CNA reported on Tuesday (Dec. 31).
Citing a Pingtung County Department of Agriculture news release, the report said that many southern Taiwanese will have seen the reptiles running around in the wild. Iguanas' emerald green young are considered to be cute and were introduced to Taiwan to be sold as pets, the department said.
As adults, the lizards look more like "Godzilla," a fictional monster that originated in a series of Japanese films, according to the department. This has lead to their owners releasing them into the wild, where they breed and spread rapidly, the department said.
Not only do the iguanas eat crops, but they also cause ecological disruption, the department added.
In 2013, Pingtung County Government started to take action to curb the wild green iguana population. Pingtung County Department of Agriculture Director-General Huang Kuo-jung (黃國榮) said the county government caught 26 green iguanas in 2013, 51 in 2014, 345 in 2015, 1,068 in 2017, and 1,082 in 2018.
Since July, the county government has stepped up its pursuit of green iguanas by offering “Eagle" red beans and organic Manzhou black soybeans in exchange, the news agency reported. From July 1 to the year-end, 2,132 green iguanas were exchanged for beans, while the Wild Bird Society of Ping-Tung caught 2,050 iguanas this year, adding up to a total of 4,182.
Huang said the beans incentive will continue this year and urged people to catch more of the iguanas. However, he also urged those catching larger iguanas to be careful not to be bitten or hurt by their tails, which they use to attack.
(Pingtung County Government photo)