Our last day in Miami found us with time to fill. I really wanted to bird before we headed back to Ohio, so we looked at a map of the area. Since we didn't rent a car, we were at the mercy of the public transit system (aka, the city BUS).
We got off at the Oleta River State Park, Florida's largest urban park. And wow. It seemed so remote, we forgot we were in the middle of a major city.
In the heat, I was grumbling inside my head that a car would be nice. But as wonders unfolded right at our feet, I realized that in a car, we would be missing it all.
We were walking along a canal and I was looking at a log.
Oh, wait. That's not a log.
The log had a head and a tail.
Florida has more than its share of exotic, non-native animals living in it.
This is one that many people there actively hate.
(Iguana iguana), also known as the Green Iguana.
(They come in colors other than green.)
I haven't laid eyes on an iguana of this size since my sister-in-law's pet Sam passed away. He was about six feet long. And I have never seen one in the wild.
The majority of feral iguanas in Florida are releases and escaped pets, but a smaller population came from Central and South America as passengers of hurricanes. In places where iguanas are native, they are called "Chicken of the Tree"....because they taste like chicken. Yum.
While they look like something out of a dinosaur movie, they are gentle giants who would rather run that fight. Arboreal herbivores, they are raising the ire of many a gardener in Florida.
We pointed him out to the girls, and they were over the moon about it. I had told them of the "Frozen Iguana Shower" in January of 2008. During record cold temperatures, iguanas everywhere were falling from the trees, unable to maintain their metabolism. They were littering the sidewalks all over Florida. I think I would have liked to see that.
As we admired him, we failed to notice something. It wasn't until I uploading the pictures that I saw that this big dude was missing something.
COUNT THE FEET.
Three feet instead of four. I don't know what could have bitten off the foot of a huge iguana, but judging by his size and health, I guess he doesn't miss it.
We ventured too close, and he made his escape through the water to the other side of the canal.