Iguana: In Puerto Rico, It’s What’s for Dinner

Authorities are planning to deal with their infestation of iguanas by exporting the meat to other countries -- where the lizard is a protected species.

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Oswaldo Rivas / Reuters

An iguana crawls on a tree in Nicaragua.

One man’s pest can sometimes be another’s delicacy. And when that happens, there’s opportunity — both to rid the pest and make some money in the process.

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Puerto Rico is currently struggling with an infestation of iguanas — an invasive species first brought over as pets that now number at least four million, more than the island’s human population. The iguanas have been devouring vegetation and disrupting everything from power lines to the local airports, where flights are often delayed while crews clear wandering lizards from the runways. Meanwhile, other Central American countries like Guatemala and Nicaragua have started protecting the species — which are being hunted out of existence for their supposed medicinal properties (or in some cases just as a popular entree).

The government has already declared open season on hunting the repiles and as the Wall Street Journal explains, authorities in the U.S. territory believe there’s job-making potential in a new plan to export the iguana to countries where it’s a threatened species.

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One Puerto Rican iguana exporter—whose rent is subsidized by the government—has already emerged. According to the Journal, Jose Luis Monge, founder of Best Iguana Puerto Rico Meat, now has 600 lizards — which can grow up to six feet long and weigh up to 20 lbs. —  kept in pens behind his slaughterhouse. He hopes to eventually export 2,000 pounds of iguana meat a week.

There’s a healthy appetite for iguana. Just not in Puerto Rico.

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21 comments
CallMeJar
CallMeJar

Bring my uncle and his sling shot to puerto rico and problem solved. Iguana taste like chicken though. I dont get why most women in our pueblo like eating their eggs and i still cant figure out how those eggs never break from a 6 story building fall.

degee99
degee99

Many years ago, I lived in Central America; came down sick and my nice old landlady fixed me iguana soup, which tasted remarkably like chicken soup, quite good.  I lived in a house with a tile roof amp; no ceiling, and at night, the iguanas raised quite a clatter running across the roof chasing (and eating) mice amp; rats, so they were welcome "neighbors."  ...And a lot faster than they look!

Thomas J Marlo
Thomas J Marlo

Why did the lizard cross the road?  Because he iguana too!

nobozo2012
nobozo2012

I heard they taste like chicken.

MCnZen
MCnZen

Bats BBQ in Indonesia and Mice stew in china, these are not weird for the locales. 

Just different culture and ways to survive.

AnomicOfficeDrone
AnomicOfficeDrone

I've never tried iguana and don't think I would seek it out, but if it was served to me I'd eat it. 

Soicanleavecomments OnBlogs
Soicanleavecomments OnBlogs

That is terrible. Cats and dogs and kupe frogs next?

JoeDash
JoeDash

I think you missed the point. They are an invasive species that is disturbing the natural ecosystem. Not that humans and domesticated animals are not, but iguanas have no predators (other than humans) and breed uncontrollably. 

rikkirat
rikkirat

I wish I was in Tijuana, eating bar-Ba-qued Iguana... I'm on a Mexican ray-dee-ohhhh...

Lori Jeltema
Lori Jeltema

dan f-galton stole my line

calhughes
calhughes

ok exploit them get rid of them. export the meat, put up a bounty, what ever you gotta do to get rid of the problem and then be done with it. what's the big deal? it's a lizzard, so what?

Ken Nisly
Ken Nisly

I lived in Belize and we ate them along with the natives in the the month of March when they had eggs -cause they wanted to eat them along with the meat - edible but a bit on the strong side of eating. 

Aldrick Meyer
Aldrick Meyer

Nothing new for us her on those ABC-islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao). It is something special, taste just like chicken...........hahahahaha. Come and taste it.

f_galton
f_galton

I wish I was in Tijuana, eating barbecued iguana.

Araceliwaa
Araceliwaa

Marilyn implied I cant believe that someone able to profit $4463 in 4 weeks on the network. have you look this(Click on menu Home)

Skipdallas
Skipdallas

I was stationed at Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico back in the early 70's. After two days of travel, I finally made my way there and was assigned barracks space. It was Hot and humid. I was laying on my bunk in my underwear. There was a terrific thunderstorm outside. A particularly close and intense lightening strike shook the building dislodging a  foot long lizard (I am not sure of the species) that fell on my chest, scaring me out of a couple years of my life. The creature was harmless, but to this day, lizards creep me out! Except the little ones in my garden! I never thought about eating one, but "different strokes". I wish these iguana entrepreneurs all the best in ridding the island of an invasive species. And Please do not tell me they taste like chicken! :)

MCnZen
MCnZen

They probably taste like snake (chewy and gamey), but most likely not chicken.