Blue Iguana continues to grow
Tom Portuallo knows iguanas and their habits like a behavioral specialist.
The former restaurateur and marina operator turned iguana eradicator said he founded his 5-year old business based on a need he saw amongst small South Florida cities.
“Unlike raccoons which are indigenous to the area, iguanas are a non-native, invasive species,” Portuallo researched products already available on the market and found the majority of them had been reviewed as having only minimal success at best.
Many of the vegetable oil sprays currently on the market only deter iguanas from lush, leafy vegetation property owners are constantly defending. The products currently on the market, he explained, always have several key ingredients – garlic and neem oils, citric acid and capsaicin, a chemical extracted from peppers – and merely make plants taste bad.
Big Pine Key resident Michael Vaughn said he’d tried “everything under the sun” to treat the iguanas that had overtaken his pool deck.
“They’re very docile, and they’re first intention is to run,” Portuallo explained. “However, they’re very territorial, so sprays simply change their environment.”
He surmised the best way to keep tropical foliage lush and canal-front docks poop-free was to construct a barrier around a homeowner’s property.
“The barriers need to be UV resistant and salt-water resistant,” he continued. “Along with that came the procedures for treating the property itself.”
Blue Iguana markets and uses tree barriers and dock barriers along with regularly scheduled monitoring of homes to ensure their service delivers on its promises.
Vaughn called the Blue Iguana team the most dedicated, prompt and professional of many service providers with whom he’s worked in the Keys.
“Honestly, I haven’t seen a trace of an iguana around our pool in months, and Tom still checks in with me every couple of weeks when he’s passing through the area,” Vaughn noted.
Like sea turtles nest on coastal beaches, iguanas, Portuallo continued, may dig nests next to sea walls or along strongly rooted perimeter trees to protect their eggs. His company offers a meshing system installed around property perimeters that can easily be camouflaged with pea rock, sand or grass.
“We’ve only had an office in Monroe County for a year, and we’re already serving hundreds of customers,” said the proud, and apparently successful entrepreneur, who employs four technicians in Key West, two in Broward County with plans to expand his service area to include Naples.