Iguana Invasion!
by Virginia Aronson and Allyn Szejko

Price at time of review: $16.95
69 pp.
Pineapple Press,Inc.
Sarasota, FL
ISBN: 9781561644681

Grade Level: 7-12

Reviewed by Judy Kraus
Science Teacher, Hyde Park Middle School

Invasive species are a growing problem around the world. Hitchhiking organisms find their way across the oceans via planes or boats in our highly mobile society. Then they relocate in a suitable ecosystem that provides a ready food supply. Pet stores lure buyers with displays of exotic species, many of which are released into the wild and take over the local habitat when the owner is no longer able to care for them. The results are often devastating to the environment.

In Iguana Invasion! Exotic Pets Gone Wild in Florida, Virginia Aronson and Allyn Szejko educate the public about the threat these invasive species pose. They begin with the story of iguanas, which have invaded Florida and are destroying the native species. Non-native reptile species like the common green iguana, Mexican spinytail iguana, and black spinytail iguana have infiltrated the southern coastline. Each species is identified by both the common and scientific name, and basic facts spanning their entire life cycles are detailed. These iguana populations have swelled and are considered a nuisance. Most are voracious herbivores, and some will eat small vertebrates. Like many invasive species, the iguanas have few natural enemies in their new habitat. Their eggs are consumed by several species, but the adults, ranging from one to four feet in length, have few if any natural predators.

The authors also discuss other invaders such as geckos, boas, toads, Monk parakeets, and even Rhesus monkeys; they have all taken up residence in Florida. Each has become a destructive force in a new habitat. Irresponsible owners often do not realize the impact releasing an unwanted pet into a local stream can have. The effect of these transplanted animals on an ecosystem may lead to the extinction of native species. Capturing or relocating them can be an expensive and often-impossible challenge.

Through this book, the authors hope to create a culture of caring for the environment. There are more than 230 documented exotic species thriving in Florida alone. In order to reverse this trend, citizens must become aware of the dangers of exotic pets, learn never to release pets into the wild, and most importantly lend their voices to those seeking to preserve the natural environment.

Review posted on 6/21/2010

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