Pingtung, Residents in Taiwan’s southernmost Pingtung County captured a green iguana estimated to be about 1.5-meter long on Wednesday, local authorities said Thursday, after the photo of the creature went viral on social media.
The orange and brown-colored creature, affectionately named “little dinosaur,” was found basking in the sun on a fence of a local drainage ditch in Wandan Township, the Pingtung County Government said.
A photo of the animal has spurred heated discussion since it was made public on Monday by a passersby who was spooked by the creature with spike-like scales.
Upon learning the news, Cheng Yung-yu (鄭永裕), head of the county’s Department of Agriculture, said the local authorities teamed up with a bird association and experienced iguana removal professionals and captured the critter on Wednesday – with ropes and traps.
Cheng said the iguana will be euthanized like most captured iguanas are, but he declined to specify what method will be used to do so.
According to the Forestry Bureau’s latest statistics, the number of green iguanas captured in Taiwan has exceeded more than 10,000 for the first time this year, with 8,570 removed from Pingtung County- the largest number among locations across the nation.
Many green iguana owners abandon their pets once the lizards grow to 2 meters long, the bureau explained, adding that many of them bought the animals without knowing they would grow to that size.
Female green iguanas lay clutches of 20 to 70 eggs weeks after mating.
While efforts are being made to capture the invasive species, Cheng urged anyone who wishes to keep the creature to register with the local authorities and obtain a permit.
To prevent an overpopulation, all green iguanas owners are required to sterilize their pets, Cheng added.
Under the Wildlife Conservation Act, violators will face a fine of NT$10,000 to $50,000 (US$349 to $1,747), Cheng said.
He urged owners who no longer wish to keep their pet iguanas to contact his department for assistance, urging them not to release them in the wild or worse, in urban areas.
The green iguana, also known as the American Iguana, has no natural predator in Taiwan and has caused extensive damage to agricultural crops, irrigation channels and ecosystems in the countryside. (Kuo Tze-hsuan and Chung Yu-chen)
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel