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Taiwan’s Pingtung caught nearly 20,000 green iguanas last year

Godzilla-like reptiles often kept as pets and abandoned

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(Pingtung County Department of Agriculture photo)

(Pingtung County Department of Agriculture photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A total of 19,733 green iguanas were caught in Pingtung County in 2021, which is 2.3 times the number caught in the previous year and the most of any part of the country, according to Pingtung County Department of Agriculture statistics.

Department Director Cheng Yung-yu (鄭永裕) told CNA that the county had caught 8,420 iguanas in 2020, but the number jumped last year because an additional pest control company had joined in the crusade to purge the invasive species, which has been doing damage to crops.

The reptiles, which can grow to be more than 150 centimeters long, were originally kept as pets, but they have often been abandoned as their owners find their appearance unappealing, the report said. As the invasive species has no natural enemies, they are harmful to the local ecology.

Though green iguanas do not pose a threat to people, they may frighten some who see them, the director said, adding that they have caused economic losses by eating vegetable leaves. The county has spent nearly NT$1 million (US$36,000) to exterminate the reptiles every year, CNA quoted Cheng as saying.

The county government has been encouraging people to participate in extermination efforts by rewarding those who catch green iguanas with agricultural produce at Pingtung and Chaozhou fire stations, per CNA.

Taiwan’s Pingtung caught nearly 20,000 green iguanas last year
(Pingtung County Department of Agriculture photo)