Do People Really Eat Iguanas Road Kill?

Executive Summary:

  • A recent cold snap in South Florida cased the death of hundreds of Iguanas
  • What happened to these dead Iguanas?

A cold snap in South Florida caused Iguanas to literally fall from the trees in which they reside.  Since iguanas are cold-blooded reptiles, they can become immobile in temperatures 40 degrees and colder.  At this temperature, the Iguanas are not dead, but they do fall out their trees.  In temperatures lower than 40 degrees, South Floridians should avoid walking under trees.  

a Frozen Iguana falls from a Tree and is 4 paws up

Most often, the “frozen” Iguana will wake up as the temperature rises.  But sometime the fall will kill the Iguana.  What happens to this Iguana Road Kill?  Does anyone eat Iguana Meat?  The short answer is YES.

Eating iguana meat is nothing new. In fact, it’s a common delicacy in Mexico, Central and South America, and in trendy U.S. restaurants that cater to anyone craving a lizard entree.  Iguanas can range from 9 pounds to 30 pounds and can grow to over 3 feet long. 

a Large Iguana can provide a meal for a family of 6 or more

guana gourmets in the U.S. are sometimes immigrants from other countries looking for a taste of home. Other times, they’re just red-blooded Americans looking for something new.  Dr. William Kern, University of Florida, explains:  “Iguana has been called the Chicken of the Trees”. 

Dr. William Kern, U of F, is an expert on Iguanas as a food source

Dr. Kern, continues:  ”People have been eating iguanas since at least 10,000 years ago, when humans reached the New World tropics. It was a readily available, not-too-dangerous food source. It’s always been part of the diet”.

BBQ Iguana, mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, Tasty

Iguana meat is high protein and low fat.  Iguana is a tasty meat alternative for Tacos, Burritos, Curries, Soups, Stews, and Gumbo according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The meat is thick, so it’s often boiled for long periods of time to soften it up.  Dr. Kern clarifies:  ”When Iguana is cooked, it’s almost a white meat, like you might see with chicken or grouper. It’s a mild-flavored meat — milder than alligator.”  

a skinned and gutted Iguana ready to become a Tasty Taco or Stew