Iguanas For Dinner? Posted on October 1, 2012 by thflogin Iguanas For Dinner?Sample the popular meat. Sure, iguanas are captivating and make for perfect photo opportunities when visiting Puerto Rico. Now, you can sample the popular meat. Puerto Rico is a modern progressive and civilized vacation spot that maintains the charm and hospitality of days gone by. One item of particular charm is catching a glimpse of the large lizard – the iguana. On Puerto Rico, you will find everything that the Caribbean has to offer in this all around family destination – and now, you will find Iguanas for Dinner! An infestation of iguanas are roaming the island, chewing up plants and crops and burrowing under roads and dikes. The reptiles, which aren’t native to Puerto Rico, have few natural predators and are highly fertile. They have proliferated so uncontrollably that their population, estimated at roughly four million, now outnumbers humans in this U.S. territory. First, Puerto Rico declared iguanas a nuisance, opening the way for people to hunt them. But that didn’t put much of a dent in the population. Now, authorities have a new solution: eat them. There isn’t much appetite for iguanas in Puerto Rico, but the meat is popular in other countries, Mr. GalÃ¡n KercadÃ³ says. Puerto Rico hopes to gather iguanas up, slaughter them and export the meat to countries in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere with a taste for the lizards. Not only will this help rid Puerto Rico of a problem, Mr. GalÃ¡n KercadÃ³ says, but it could create jobs too. Unlike Puerto Ricans, who consider the creatures a pest, many Central Americans go gaga for iguana. They eat it roasted and in stews. They use its oil to treat rheumatism and bruises. Some even consume it in the hope of increasing their sex drive, according to a recent U.S. government report on the reptiles. The region’s taste for the animals has depleted the population of some species, prompting countries like Guatemala and Nicaragua to enact protections, according to the report. Luis RamÃrez Camejo, a Panamanian graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico, says he couldn’t believe his good fortune when he arrived here and discovered the island was overrun with iguanas. “In my family, iguana meat is a luxury,” he says. “You don’t find it easily.” He says he has caught numerous iguanas on the island and prepared the meat in a stew with achiote oil, onions and tomatoes. Native to Central and South America, iguanas arrived in Puerto Rico in the 1970s as part of the pet trade, says Rafael Joglar, a biology professor at the University of Puerto Rico who has studied the animals. Over time, he says, some escaped and others were set loose, and they slowly began to multiply. When the government first announced the iguana plan in February, it drew snickers. “Really???” wrote one commenter on the website of Primera Hora, a local newspaper. But over time, the plan has gained supporters. One potentially interested iguana buyer is Anshu Pathak, owner of Perris, Calif.-based Exotic Meat Market, which sells everything from antelope to zebra meat. He says there is a healthy appetite for iguana meat in the U.S., especially among Latin American and Asian immigrant groups. “I sell every iguana I get,” he says. He touts the animal’s supposed aphrodisiac qualities to potential buyers, he says. “Sex is my main selling point,” he says. “Everybody likes sex, right? So please eat my iguanas.” Next time you visit Puerto Rico, give it a try, and let us know how you liked it, and how it was prepared. Besides, you’ll now have bragging rights for “most exotic food” you’ve tried.