An unlucky iguana was the root cause of a large power outage in one South Florida city this week, officials said. On Wednesday afternoon, Lake Worth Beach Electric Utility crews responded to the power outage, The Hill reports. The outage affected customers in the South East section where the company provides its services. The city issued a statement calling the power cut “large scale,” but more information about how many people this impacted is still unknown.
The power outage was caused by an iguana, though officials have not said how exactly. These lizards are known to cause damage to man-made structures like sidewalks and foundations by burrowing and digging. The power was restored to Lake Worth Beach within 35 minutes, said Jason Bailey, assistant director of system operations.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission explained that green iguanas are not originally from Florida. They declared them as an invasive species because of how much they harm native wildlife. Green iguanas are not protected under Florida law, except by anti-cruelty statutes. They can be captured and killed humanely year-round without a permit or hunting license on 25 public lands in south Florida.
Green iguanas have been a pest in Florida for some time
Green iguanas have been officially added to Florida’s list of restricted species. For those unfamiliar, green iguanas are originally from Central America down to tropical parts of South America and a few eastern Caribbean islands. The first reports of green iguanas in Florida date back to the 1960s, when they were spotted in Hialeah, Coral Gables, and Key Biscayne. Today, these lizards can be found all along the state’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The man-made canals in South Florida are perfect for iguanas to travel through and colonize new areas.
Home and business owners often view green iguanas as a nuisance because they damage landscape vegetation. These reptiles are especially fond of trees with leaves or flowers. They also eat most fruits (except citrus), and almost any type of vegetable. Green iguanas can also wreak havoc on infrastructure by digging burrows. These canals can lead to the erosion and collapse of sidewalks, foundations, seawalls, berms, and canal banks. In addition to polluting the water, green iguanas may also dirty docks, moored boats, seawalls, porches, decks, pool platforms, and swimming pools with their waste.
Green iguanas are generally herbivores. However, researchers found the remains of tree snails in their stomachs. This suggests that they could pose a threat to native and endangered species of tree snails. In Bahia Honda State Park, green iguanas have consumed nicker beans. This is a host plant for the endangered Miami Blue butterfly. Like other reptiles, green iguanas can also transmit Salmonella bacteria to people through contact with water or surfaces contaminated by their feces.