Thursday, October 29, 2009

The six foot, three-foot iguana

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.
spotting the iguana
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.)

Sitting iguana
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.
The three footed iguana
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.

walking away

We ventured too close, and he made his escape through the water to the other side of the canal.
swimming iguana


KatDoc said...

Aw, poor "Stumpy!" Wonder if it was bitten off or frozen off during the Great Iguana Shower episode. Frostbite would look like that, I should think.

Nice pics!

Mary said...

I have sticky and you have stumpy. He's striking - missing foot and all.

Love it!

Susan Gets Native said...

Isn't he gorgeous? The most massive pile of lizard flesh I have ever seen outside of a zoo.
The girls nearly lost their minds. :)

RuthieJ said...

Geez Susan, that's way cool! You sure got lots of great experiences on this trip.

eileeninmd said...

Wow, that is a big iguana. I love the closeup photo showing the feet. Maybe a gator got the other one.

MevetS said...

Ok, let me get this straight. You were in Miami. The one in Florida, right?

You do know they have even larger reptiles in that neck of the woods. (Which also taste like chicken I might add.)

And you don't know what could have bittern the foot off?

Very cool.