BRADENTON BEACH – The case of the Leffis lizard is solved.
Reports of an iguana at Leffis Key concerned Suzi Fox, director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, and Michael Elswick, division manager of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department.
Black spiny-tailed iguanas prey on sea turtle hatchlings and bird eggs, and shorebird nesting season and sea turtle nesting season are beginning, Fox said.
The invasive species, Ctenosaura similis, is an omnivore that eats just about anything and can grow to more than 5 feet long, Elswick said.
The lizards are established in five counties to the south, including Charlotte County, where tens of thousands have been trapped and removed, he said, adding that the black spiny-tail iguana is not a threat to humans or pets.
Another lizard threat from Hillsborough County to the north is the black and white Argentine tegu lizard, also an omnivore, he said.
But the Leffis lizard appears to be a green iguana.
Birders discovered the lizard in high tree branches at Leffis Key this morning.
“We’re probably talking about an escaped pet that may persist for some time in the wild but which is ultimately not a threat,” he said, adding that green iguanas are herbivores, which eat plants.
The county will still try to locate and trap the iguana, because its chances for survival are slim if it is an escaped pet, he said. If it is used to being fed, it may have trouble feeding itself, and predators like snakes and ospreys are abundant at the park.
“It shouldn’t be too hard to find a home for a green iguana,” Elswick said.
Once they catch it, that is.
If you see a black spiny-tailed iguana or Argentine tegu on the Island, email the photo with date and location to [email protected].