News Release: April 16, 2002

Posted on Apr 16, 2002 in 2002 News Releases, News-Releases

NR02-08 April 16, 2002

Iguana & Illegal Lizard Turned In Under Amnesty

Honolulu – An iguana and a knight anole lizard were turned in in separate incidents over the weekend under the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Amnesty Program.

On Friday evening, April 12, a Pupukea couple called the HDOA’s Pest Hotline and reported that they found an iguana in a cage under a tree near the Kaiser Clinic in Waipahu. This is the sixth iguana captured or turned in on Oahu in the past four months. Although they are believed to be established in some areas on Oahu, it is illegal to possess or transport iguanas in Hawaii.

When fully grown, iguanas may reach up to six feet in length from nose to tip of tail. Its tail can be quite powerful, acting as a dangerous weapon in fending off enemies. Iguanas are native to central Mexico through South America and are typically vegetarians, but are known to disturb bird nestlings and feed on eggs.

In a separate incident, a knight anole (Anolis equestris), also known as a Cuban knight anole, was turned in to the Hawaiian Humane Society on Sunday, April 14. The 10-inch-long anole was reportedly from the Kaneohe area. No other information was provided.

Although established in certain areas on the windward side of Oahu, the knight anole is illegal for individuals to possess. The knight anole is native to Cuba and can grow as large as 22 inches long. It feeds on a variety of mid- and large-sized insects, spiders, and smaller lizards and will occasionally eat fruits and berries. Larger knight anoles may eat small birds and small rodents. Known for its strong jaw muscles, knight anoles can cause a painful bite but are not usually aggressive toward humans. The knight anole is distinguishable from the more common green anole due to its larger, more robust size and yellow markings below the eye and on the body.

Both animals are being held at HDOA’s Plant Quarantine Branch.

A photo opportunity of the iguana and knight anole is scheduled this afternoon between 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. at the Plant Quarantine Branch, 701 llalo Street. Cooke Street is now accessible and media may enter through the Cooke Street entrance after crossing Ilalo Street.

Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in jail. Individuals with illegal pets are encouraged to turn them in under the department’s Amnesty Program. Anyone with information or knowledge of illegal animals in Hawaii is asked to call the department’s PEST HOTLINE at 586-PEST(7378).