Adam Nofs-Snyder said he nearly ran over an iguana on a street in Waimanalo this afternoon.
At first glance, he thought it might have been a palm frond, but stopped his car in the middle of Kumuhau Street to look more closely and discovered it was a roughly 2-foot iguana, nose-to-tail.
The reptile scurried off into a yard, and Nofs-Snyder was unable to capture it.
“I hear they taste like chicken,” he said with a laugh.
Nofs-Snyder reported his discovery to the Department of Agriculture.
Another iguana, 3 1/2 feet long, was caught Feb. 16 in a woman’s backyard on the same street in Waimanalo, but in the agricultural inspectors’ haste to capture it, no photo was taken.
Police officers were able to corner the animal until DOA agricultural inspectors arrived and secured it.
“Iguanas are established in Waimanalo,” said Janelle Saneishi, public information officer for the Department of Agriculture. They have also been found in Kahuku, Waianae and Nanakuli.
It is illegal to import, possess or transport iguanas in Hawaii.
They can get up to 6 feet long, and can use their powerful tails as weapons to fend off enemies, the Agriculture Department said.
They can be found in trees, and like fruits and red hibiscus flowers, Saneishi said.
Although typically vegeterian, iguanas are known to disturb bird nestlings, feed on eggs and can threaten native bird populations, and have been known to eat small mammals.
In Florida, during freezing temperatures, iguanas were raining down from the trees, Saneishi said.
Anyone in possession of illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and three years in prison.
Agriculture Department officials do not recommend touching or trying to capture iguanas.
Instead they urge people to report illegal animals, call the Agriculture Department’s pest hotline at 643-PEST (7378) or turn them in under the state’s Amnesty program.