News Release: April 8, 2002

Posted on Apr 8, 2002 in 2002 News Releases, News-Releases

NR02-06 April 8, 2002

Young Iguana Captured in Waipahu

Honolulu – A young iguana was captured in a residential area near the Waipahu Town Center and officials are wary that there could be more in the area.  A resident on Hoaeae Street reported seeing a large lizard moving from one papaya tree to another papaya tree in his backyard and called the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) on Friday, April 5.  An HDOA animal specialist met the resident Friday evening at his home and caught the young iguana, which measures 18 inches from nose to tip of tail.

No other iguanas were spotted in the area; however, due to the young age of the iguana and the fact that iguanas can lay up to 30 eggs at a time, agriculture officials are asking residents in the area to look out for other young iguanas.  Any sighting of an iguana or other restricted animal should be reported to the HDOA PEST HOTLINE at 586-PEST (7378).

A photo opportunity of the iguana is scheduled this afternoon between 3:00 to 3:30 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.

This is the fifth iguana captured on Oahu in recent months.  One was captured on December 31, 2001 at the Turtle Bay Golf Club in Kahuku.  A family captured one in their backyard in Palisades on January 3, 2002.  In late January, another iguana was captured on the H-3 freeway after a motorist reported it to authorities.  In March, a Waianae family captured an iguana in their yard.

When fully grown, iguanas may reach up to six feet in length from head 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.

Although they are believed to be established in some areas on Oahu, it is illegal to possess or transport iguanas in Hawaii. 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).