U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

March 2005


Published in The Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education and Research (JAAER)


Green iguanas are large lizards exotic to Puerto Rico, but abundant around Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) in metropolitan San Juan, where we assessed their potential as an airstrike hazard. During our two rnonth sanipling period, operatio~iso il portions of (he airfielJ hdJ Lu be hdltcJ 011 s io~~ ~ d s i ujluot, t" l i ~l )d~ i j~. ~ ~ byi t ~ d iguana incursions to aircraft traffic areas. All 5 records of collisions with iguanas in the FAA airstrike database were from SJU. Body size comparisons between mature iguanas and terrestrial mammals known as aircraft collision hazards indicated that iguanas present airstrike hazards. Application of a predictive equation previously developed to relate body mass to a relative hazard score for airstrikes indicated that iguanas could rank with such damaging species as ducks, pelicans and eagles. We recommend that a wildlife hazard assessment be conducted at SJU, and we suggest some possible remediation measures.