Iguanas. We're used to seeing them in our yards, perched in tall, leafy trees, or even crossing busy roadways and streets, but finding them in your toilet is something even the most seasoned South Florida resident can never be fully prepared for.
When Courtney Ortiz's son found one of the reptiles lounging in the bathroom of their Hollywood home Wednesday, he immediately panicked and called his dad.
"There's an iguana in our toilet! There's an iguana in our bathroom! You have to come home!" he said. "Oh my God, it's just sitting in the toilet, please hurry."
Ortiz said her son had just come home from school, and his dad was in a meeting. In a fit of fright, he called Ortiz next, screaming.
"It was the most terrifying two seconds of my life before I realized the cause of his screams and then I just started laughing," Ortiz said in an e-mail.
Incredibly, iguanas in toilets are not an unheard of phenomenon in South Florida, or the state in general. Iguana trappers say the creatures can climb from trees onto the roofs of homes, then enter someone's plumbing system through the vent pipe in the roof.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, once an iguana gets into someone's plumbing, it can then start swimming through the sewer system. After that, it's looking for any way to get out.
"It's the luck of the draw where they come out," Boca Grande iguana trapper George Cera told the Times. "The next place to pop out is your 3-inch toilet pipe."
There have been news reports of iguanas in toilets in Fort Lauderdale, West Kendall, and Key Biscayne, as well as other South Florida communities and municipalities. Interestingly, the phenomenon only happens in the Sunshine State, the Times reported.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, iguanas are excellent swimmers, and can tolerate both saltwater and freshwater environments for up to four hours at a time. The creature's propensity for damp and wet areas make it easier for them to survive for extended periods of time in places like a toilet bowl.
Photos taken by Ortiz, who owns photography company Courtney Studios, show the iguana being removed from the toilet bowl by a trapper and safely transported away from the home.