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Hunter and Dog Eliminate 50 Green Iguanas in Less than 6 Hours in Florida

Hunter and Dog Eliminate 50 Green Iguanas
A happy Kimmel crew of iguana hunters. Mike Kimmel

Let’s Learn about the time a hunter, Mike Kimmel, and his dog. Otto, eliminated 50 invasive green iguanas in one afternoon in Florida.

Invasive Iguanas

A brilliant green baby iguana (physignatus coccincinus) relaxing in the sun. Image via depositphotos.

Invasive green iguanas have been spreading through Florida for years, originating from Central and South America. These lizards, equipped with powerful tails, sharp teeth, and claws, have become a significant nuisance due to their rapid reproduction and lack of natural predators once they grow over two feet long.

The Spread of Green Iguanas

A giant invasive iguana. Mike Kimmel

Green iguanas have become so abundant in parts of Florida that they are frequently seen crossing roadways and sidewalks, swimming in canals and ponds, and climbing trees in residents’ backyards. These lizards are skilled swimmers, able to stay submerged for up to four hours in both salt and freshwater. They dig extensive tunnel networks with multiple entrances, undermining infrastructure like roadways, sidewalks, and home foundations.

Year-Round Hunting of Iguanas

Hunter and Dog Eliminate 50 Green Iguanas
Otto after an iguana retrieve. Mike Kimmel

Florida classifies iguanas as an invasive species, allowing them to be hunted year-round with no limit. Mike Kimmel, also known as the Python Cowboy, has been hunting iguanas for about a decade. He eliminates these lizards in various settings, including municipalities, golf courses, and residential properties, where they have become particularly troublesome.

The Iguana Hunting Experience

Hunter and Dog Eliminate 50 Green Iguanas
Mike Kimmel with a “keeper” iguana. All parts of the reptiles are used. Mike Kimmel

Kimmel guides up to four paying hunters for iguana hunts on public canals, charging $1,000 for the experience. Using specialized .30 caliber air rifles, which are safer in urban areas, hunters aim to shoot the iguanas in the head. A typical hunt from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. results in the capture of 20 to 50 iguanas. Kimmel has personally shot up to 90 iguanas in a single day when hired for specific removal tasks.

The Role of Otto in Iguana Hunts

Hunter and Dog Eliminate 50 Green Iguanas
Kimmel’s dog, Otto, is an iguana hunting machine. Mike Kimmel

Kimmel’s dog, Otto, plays a crucial role in these hunts. The two-year-old Drahthaar is skilled at catching and retrieving shot lizards. Despite the defensive capabilities of the iguanas, which use their tails to whip adversaries and their teeth to bite, Otto has learned to quickly subdue them. Kimmel is also training two more dogs with his girlfriend Allie for iguana hunting.

Utilization of Iguana Parts

Hunter and Dog Eliminate 50 Green Iguanas
A happy Kimmel crew of iguana hunters. Mike Kimmel

Kimmel ensures that all parts of the iguana are used. He consumes the meat, which he describes as delicious, and skins the lizards for leather, which is used to make wallets, purses, and pistol holsters. The heads and claws of large lizards are turned into trinkets for tourists. Kimmel also uses a mounted iguana for environmental education sessions.

Addressing Concerns and Benefits

Green Iguana
Green Iguana. Image via Deposit Photos

Hunting iguanas in urban areas can sometimes alarm residents. Kimmel often explains the importance of removing these invasive species to concerned locals. While some may call the police, officers usually understand and support his efforts to control the iguana population.

The Impact on Native Wildlife

Iguana with his eyes set on the ball. Captured by PGA TOURS.

In addition to damaging property, iguanas displace native Florida wildlife. Their extensive tunneling destroys ground nesting areas used by endangered species such as burrowing owls and gopher tortoises. This displacement poses a significant threat to these native animals, highlighting the need for effective iguana control measures.

What Makes Green Iguanas a Problem in Florida?

Green Iguana
close-up view of green iguana (iguana iguana) image via depositphotos.

Green iguanas cause significant damage to infrastructure and natural habitats. Their extensive tunneling undermines roads, sidewalks, and home foundations, while their presence disrupts local ecosystems by displacing native wildlife.

How Are Green Iguanas Hunted?

Marine Iguana resting on lava rocks at Santa Cruz Island in Galapagos Islands
Marine Iguana resting on lava rocks at Santa Cruz Island in Galapagos Islands. Image via Deposit Photos

In Florida, green iguanas can be hunted year-round with no limit. Hunters like Mike Kimmel use specialized .30 caliber air rifles to safely eliminate iguanas in urban areas. These hunts are conducted on public canals, golf courses, and residential properties.

Why Is It Important to Control the Iguana Population?

Tropical beautiful curious american scale reptile lizard of turtle iguana in wildlife with crest standing on small stones outdoor in Roatan Honduras on natural background, horizontal picture. Image via Depositphotos.

Controlling the iguana population is crucial to protect Florida’s infrastructure and native wildlife. Iguanas displace endangered species and cause extensive property damage. Effective population control helps mitigate these impacts.

What Role Does Otto the Dog Play in Iguana Hunting?

Image via Depositphotos.

Otto, a skilled Drahthaar, assists in iguana hunts by catching and retrieving shot lizards. His training allows him to handle the defensive tactics of iguanas, ensuring a successful and efficient hunt.

How Are Iguanas Utilized After Being Caught?

Image via Depositphotos.

After being caught, iguanas are fully utilized. Their meat is consumed, skins are tanned for leather products, and heads and claws are made into trinkets. This ensures that no part of the iguana goes to waste.

What Are the Challenges of Hunting Iguanas in Urban Areas?

Image via Depositphotos.

Hunting iguanas in urban areas can alarm residents, leading to interactions with the police. However, clear communication and education about the importance of removing invasive species usually resolve concerns and gain local support.

What are your thoughts on this Hunter and Dog Eliminating Iguanas?

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