Wildlife authorities plan to suspend the importation of iguanas in response to their surging population in the wild across various provinces.
The suspension was prompted by the increasing sightings of iguanas in both natural habitats and public areas, said Athapol Charoenchansa, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
The growing population of free-roaming iguanas has raised concerns about potential infections and crossbreeding, as there are people who keep a substantial number of the reptiles as pets, Mr Athapol said on Thursday.
Owners are not required to report ownership but they are obligated to care for the creatures until their natural demise and ensure the proper disposal of carcasses, he said.
Iguanas are a controlled species and it is illegal to set them free; offenders can face jail terms of up to six months and/or fines of up to 50,000 baht, he added.
Although imports of iguanas were previously permitted, people were required to report them.
From 1990 to 2022, 11,622 iguanas were legally imported and 1,390 were exported.
In response to the recent reports of a substantial iguana population in the wild in Lop Buri province, Mr Athapol instructed his staff to survey the iguana population nationwide.
According to reports, many of the animals were released from a closed hotel.
Mr Athapol also said he would not license any new breeders or traders of iguanas.
Authorities in Florida, he noted, supported the immediate eradication of free-roaming iguanas in response to a population spike there.
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation last year discussed methods to handle green iguanas near Khao Phraya Doen Thong in Phattana Nikhom district of Lop Buri, said Patcharawat Wongsuwon, the natural resources and environment minister.
If people wanted to discard iguanas or other controlled animals, they must hand them in to the department, he added.
A veterinarian of the department said green iguanas usually carry the salmonella bacteria which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in those who touch waste from the animals.