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Iguana Meat: Still Just a Promise in the Mist

Search engines will find you many online sites that sell iguana meat. Whole frozen iguanas, iguana hot dogs, you name it.

But when you try to visit the page for one of these exotic-meat provenders, you usually find it’s been down since around 1959. Why do they tease us so?

It’s the same deal with iguana meat in the news. So often we read, especially in the gutter press, that some Mexican countries hope to export iguana meat for hard currency.

In Nicaragua they were supposedly urging the populace to eat iguanas to ease the drought. (See cut from the Guardian.)

Puerto Rico was proposing to export iguanas in 2012, though it’s not clear what became of the plan. There are more iguanas than yoomans on the tropical isle, and since the two species cannot interbreed, the government wanted to throw the green critters out, or export them for meat.

From the Desert News in 2012:

The island’s government is announcing plans to kill as many of the reptiles as possible and export their meat in hopes of eradicating an imported species that has long vexed residents and entertained tourists.

The U.S. Caribbean territory has roughly 4 million iguanas, which is a little more than the island’s human population, according to Daniel Galan Kercado, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.

“This is a very big problem. We have to attack it,” he said in an interview Friday. “It has impacted structures, the economy, crops and the ecosystem.”

Puerto Rico has long struggled to eradicate the bright green reptiles that can grow up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) long and have a life span of some 20 years. Iguanas are considered an endangered species throughout most of Latin America, but Puerto Rico is overrun with them, in part because they breed so quickly and have few natural predators.

The reptiles were first seen in the wild in Puerto Rico in the 1970s when owners began to release them, and their numbers have since exploded. They have been blamed for taking over airport runways, burrowing under buildings and destroying foundations, and causing blackouts by building nests near the warmth of electric plants.

But first, dreamy-eyed iguana tycoons need to persuade us to eat the fecund lizards.

This may be a hard slog. Iguana has never even found a foothold in oriental cuisine . . . and those people eat practically anything!