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Are There Iguanas in Rwanda?

Even if you are not of Irish decent, the green iguana commands admiration and respect especially if this is your first encounter with this reptile. Their dinosaur like presence and quiet stance can change in a flash when this creature decides to bolt with the tail being the last thing to be seen as it blends into nearby bush. These herbivores are considered an invasive species as they are popping up in locations that are not considered to be natural habitats. And how is this possible? Through humans of course, and the pet trade. Though not fury and cute, many people prefer these interesting animals as pets. However, many pet owners simply abandon their pets into the wilds of their former neighborhoods when it is time for them to move.

The iguana, by habit, is a destructive neighbor and has a gluttonous appetite for yard plants and many varieties of wild shrubs that grow in the bush. Fruit trees, vegetables and flowers are all on the menu. If you have ever been to paved areas near iguana habitats you should not be surprised to see iguana droppings littering what was, at some point, a clean area. In South America and the Caribbean there are marine areas such as rock outcroppings where the iguanas sunbath and leave tons of droppings. Collecting the droppings was once a stable industry in the Caribbean. Maybe it still is. They are also known to burrow under sidewalks, pavements and other surfaces causing damage and even collapse. The pet trade is a byproduct of affluent and monied societies. The State of Florida in the United States now has a huge over-population of iguanas. With the possible exception of the former President, this is in addition to all the other invasive creatures that now call Florida home. The pet trade is the real problem, but there appears to be little or no appetite for curbing these businesses and their customers.

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