It’s raining free meat in Florida!
As temperatures in normally balmy Southern Florida have plunged into the 40s, wild iguanas have begun falling from the trees. Iguanas are cold-blooded, meaning that when the weather gets cold enough they enter a state of shock where their heart rate slows and they become immobilized. While the National Weather Service has stressed that most of these iguanas are not dead, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has classified iguanas as an invasive species and has instructed homeowners to kill them as necessary. And, seeing as iguanas are informally known as “the chicken of the tree,” this recent cold snap has led to some good eating in the Sunshine State. Entrepreneurial folks have turned this act of god into a lucrative business opportunity, scooping up the dazed iguanas that litter the streets of Florida and selling them on Facebook to those who crave the taste of iguana meat.
While iguana meat might seem exotic to American palates, it’s long been a delicacy throughout Latin America. “There is a reason why these invasive iguanas are hunted in their native countries as food to the point where they are considered endangered species,” Frank Mazzotti, professor of wildlife ecology at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie, Florida, told the Miami Herald. “They are excellent to taste, and they are a great source of food.”
The University of Florida has released guidelines to keep the amateur iguana hunter/scavenger safe, as well as tips on iguana butchery and recipe recommendations. The government does not recommend purchasing any sort of meat over Facebook, but for some, the dangerous allure of black market iguana meat cannot be denied.