A nonnative species could become invasive soon after becoming
established, like the Cuban tree frog. It was introduced in
1931 through packing materials, and has invaded Florida's natural
areas, preying on our native tree frogs. Cuban tree frogs rapidly
spread in south Florida and were common throughout most of the
state by the 1970's.
On the other hand, it might take years for the right factors to
fall into place to allow a species to expand its range and cause
ecological problems. For example, green iguanas have resided in Florida
since the 1960's, but their population has increased greatly since
Hurricane Andrew. Although green iguanas have not had
ecological impacts, this Central and South American lizard causes
significant economic damage to landscape plants, primarily in
Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. On Florida's west coast, black
spinytail iguanas have reached such abundance that many
residents view them as a nuisance, and the town of Boca Grande has
considered hiring trappers to remove them.
Some invasive animals do not cause problems in all areas. The nutria, a large rodent
from South America, lives in warm, marshy areas. It is abundant in
the lowlands of Louisiana and Mississippi, but Florida populations
have not been very successful even though Florida has similar
habitats to other Gulf Coast states.