My 94 year old father back in Utica has a small office in his home. On the wall he has a rather large print of a map of the United States. It has hung on that wall for at least 40 years.
The map is a copy of a map made at least 200 years ago. So the names of places are as existed back then.
Florida and the keys are represented.
My home is 2.5 miles outside Key West proper. I live in a place called Key Haven. Key Haven of old was known as Racoon Key. Racoon Key is on my father’s map!
Many of the keys were named after animals who habited them.
Racoon Key was so named because it was over run with racoons. In fact, deeds and other legal instruments refer to the island upon which I live as Racoon Key. Not Key Haven.
Then there is Little Deer Key. Yes, little deer run all over the island. To this day! Small creatures, 2-4 feet high.
Cow Key is the first island as you leave Key West. Very tiny. A bridge rests upon it as part of the beginning of US 1. It is called Cow Key because early on the cows were left there to graze.
Though there still are little deer on Little Deer Key, the racoons and cows are gone from the other two keys.
When Ifirst bought my home about 12 years ago, there were a lot of racoons. But over the years they have disappeared.
As to the cows, I do not think there is a cow within a 100 miles of Key West. Cows are long gone!
We do have other animals however. None native to the area. All sort of immigrants. All interlopers.
Two excellent examples are the chickens and iguanas.
I have spoken of the chickens often. So I will not be addressing them further here. However, the iguanas are a story to be told!
Iguanas are all over the keys. On the streets, on home properties. Even on the golf course.
In large numbers!
Iguanas are not native to the keys area. They are more native to South America. So how did they get here? Remember they existed not in the keys 12 years ago when I purchased my home!
The answer is simple. Much like how a boa constrictor once got into the New York City sewers.
People bought iguanas from pet stores and kept them as pets. However in time they tired of them and freed them into the wild. Or the iguanas merely got away. Escaped!
I am told this problem started in Florida proper and not the keys. Anyhow the iguanas found their way into the keys. They love this place! Apparently the habitat is good for the iguana existence! They eat well off the greenry and shrubery. It is their steak and potatoes. And the weather works for them. They love the sun! Sun bathe all day!
And they propogate! Every one does, whether human or animal. But with no birth control. So their numbers have truly multiplied.
Iguanas have become a problem. Big time!
They are not dangerous to humans per se. They are not flesh eating. They do not bite.
However they love shrubs and flowers. So they eat everything on your property.
Plantings are especially costly in the keys. You purchase your plantings based on whether they can live without water and survive the sun and salt. So when these critters eat through your purchases, it is costly. It stops being humorous!
Also they shit all over the place! Ergo you are constantly hosing down your property, especially around the pool. And it is not uncommon for iguanas to use the pool for relieving themselves! Which creates a timely and costly cleanup process. The pool has to be drained, relplenished, etc.
Iguanas look like prehistoric dinasours. However so much smaller!
I understand they are also a food source. Not here in the United States, but in South America and Cuba. Their meat tastes like chicken. The tail is especially tender.
Let some one else eat them!
I had a family of three on my property last year. The situation lasted about 6 months. At first I thought they were cute. It was like the three bears! The father, or what I perceived to be the father, was about 3 feet long. Mama iguana was about 2 feet long. And baby iguana about a foot long. They lived under my deck by night. By day they lay around the pool, sunning themselves. Faced directly into the sun. Never moved. You could walk right up to them and they would not move. They feared not!
Then I started observing holes in my plantings. And defication all over the place!
The iguanas had to go!
I had to encourage them to move.
For 5 straight days I hosed them down big time. I put the water force on the garden hose on high and directed the stream at them.
They would run! Finally moved out! And have never returned!
Simple and painless. Some however may think what I did cruel! There are other alternatives being discussed openly in Key West. The iguanas have become a matter of public concern and public discourse. They are eating up expensive greenry and shitting all over the place!
There has been discussionin the newspapers to pass legislation permitting them to be shot. It may pass. That is how bad the problem has become.
What will happen? I have a feeling the iguanas are going to go the way of the chickens. Much will be done to eliminate them. However nature will win out over man. Ten years from now the iguanas will still be living here.
Perhaps they will even join with the chickens and take over! Shades of Planet of the Apes!