Make those iguanas pay

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel by Steve Estes

Local artist and general all-around character Connie Powers submitted a letter to the editor this week that sort of falls right in line with something I have been advocating for several years.

Connie, who I must say is extremely active for her youngish demeanor, wants to know if maybe we could consider becoming the iguana trapping capital of the world.

Now there’s an idea I can get behind.

I have nothing personal against iguanas if you discount the number of times they have tried to defecate on my head, or the number of times they have tried to run me off the road with their on-highway shenanigans, or the number of times they have attempted to wrestle with me for the best spot on the porch chair.

And if you discount the number of times I have found them munching on our fledgling plants, iguanas and I have almost a love affair going on.

Yes. You do hear dripping sarcasm in those statements.

It wasn’t too awful long ago that I was walking into the back yard to fetch something (kind of harkens back to my time with southern exposure don’t you think?) and dark things fell before my eyes and splatted on the ground.

From the palm tree that has grown into a behemoth in the back yard, out on a frond larger than me, sat a lonely iguana taking poop shots at the unsuspecting humans who walked below.

In the large ficus out front, underneath which sits the kid’s playhouse because of plentiful shade, there usually resides at least one temperamental lizard. And that lizard, whether it always be the same or just a break-giving family member, almost always tries to pee on my head when I have work to do on the playhouse.

There was the family of lizards that scampered out into the road last week trying to force me to veer off my chosen path into the woods. That didn’t work out so well for them as I refused to be deterred and instead hit the gas.

Did you know that iguanas are really quick when they’re scared?

Years ago was the behemoth iguana that stole my porch chair and offered to wrestle me for control. Or at least I think that’s what he was offering. From the sound coming from his mouth, I don’t think he was offering to willingly move.

So to say that the local iguana and I have a few issues would be somewhat of an understatement.

Thus can I wholeheartedly support Connie’s idea of an iguana trapping franchise in the Keys.

But I’d like to take it one step further.

I think we should build an entire festival around the iguana trapping season.

We would have to have the event in the summer months, first so we can get some folks down here when things are slow, second because the lizards are more active when its hot. It wouldn’t be much fun for our visiting trappers to come all this way and be able to knock lizards out of a tree with a rock because it’s too cold for them to move, or just walk around with an open bag and wait under a tree for a hibernating iguana to fall off the branch.

Let’s establish an iguana rodeo. After we trap them, we could make them the guest of honor at a huge block party barbecue, they of course are the barbecueee.

We could use some of the trapped lizards as contestants for the annual Lizard Loop foot race, with trappers paying an entrance fee to put their green monster in the competition, and some charity raking in the bucks from bets placed on the outcome.

As part of the rodeo we could set up a corral, maybe in the open fields at Port Pine Heights, and let visitors try their hand at roping an iguana, with prizes for the ones who do it most efficiently, or manage to rope the most.

We could have iguana versus human wrestling events, but that’s not something I want to get involved in.

I’m sure we could have some community barbecues featuring iguana dishes from all over the world. After all, the US is one of the few countries with year-round, warm weather communities that don’t eat iguana on a fairly routine basis.

And just think of the niche industries that could spring up. We could have an iguana tack shop where you could buy harnesses for your racers, mittens for your wrestlers, traps to get your lizard and all manner of other goods.

Recipe books could become a staple of our economy. Iguana belts, wallets and purses could replace alligator as a must-have item.

For those who worry that we might run out of iguana in short order, I’m betting that the lizards will more than hold their own against trappers, and it seemingly only takes a few displaced domestic iguanas, if such a thing exists as a domestic iguana, to replenish the supply.

Since iguana is not a protected species, as long as we don’t inhumanely trap them, or set about with wholesale killing by any method, we shouldn’t run afoul of the long arm of the law.

I can just imagine the manly types who would show up to wrestle a five or six-foot iguana. I hope we can have the rescue squad standing by…for the human in the equation.

I do believe that Connie has hit on something here.

I really do.

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