In its native countries, these lizards are near extinction, as they are often hunted for food or to be sold as exotic pets around the world.
Pet merchants in Taiwan have been importing the brightly coloured juveniles and selling them. As these animals mature, they grow huge and become hard to maintain, and some irresponsible owners abandon them in the wild. Usually, an exotic species will not survive easily in a foreign environment, but green iguanas adapt quickly. Forming stable breeding populations, they started threatening the stability of local species. This has resulted in a strange phenomenon: a protected species that is invasive in Taiwan.