By Yvonne Blackwood
I love to spend time at the zoo looking at animals that are both indigenous to my country and ones that come from all over the world. Some animals are downright fascinating, but there is a specie that I do not view this way—reptiles. While many folks like them and even keep some as pets, I view them as ugly; they send chills up my spine, and I am afraid of them.
You can imagine my horror when while touring the picturesque Grand Cayman Island a few years ago, iguanas kept popping up everywhere—running across the grass, climbing trees, gathering in groups as if holding meetings, and slithering into water at a marina.
A genus of omnivorous lizards, Iguanas are native to Central America, South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. They are herbivores, and can grow to as much as 6 feet long, including their tails. They possess a dewlap—a row of spines running down their backs to their tails—and a tiny “third eye” on their heads.
The blue iguana, native of Cayman, has become an endangered specie. It eats a variety of plant material but prefers fruits and flowers over leaves and stems, and is therefore important on Grand Cayman as a seed disperser. The green iguana, native to South and Central America, has also become an endangered specie because people hunt and eat it—the meat referred to as “chicken of the trees!”
Green iguanas were brought over as pets to Cayman, some time in the 1980s. They have multiplied significantly to become such a nuisance that culling has taken place under the organization of the Department of Environment in order to control the population which is estimated to be about half a million on Grand Cayman.
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