Leaping Lizards! Cold Snap Has Iguanas Falling from Trees in South Florida

by | Jan 4, 2018

It was unusual enough when Tallahassee saw snow for the first time since 1989, but now Old Man Winter has brought yet another weather-caused curiosity to Florida this week: iguanas plummeting from trees.

According to an AP report, with temperatures in South Florida dropping below 40 degrees, it was too much for the green iguanas commonly found in suburban backyards.

Kristen Sommers, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the AP that the cold-blooded iguanas get “sluggish” at temperatures below 50 degrees. As it gets colder, they completely freeze.

“It’s too cold for them to move,” Sommers said.

Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino tweeted a photo of one of the iguanasicles from his backyard this morning:

As Maxine Bentzel with CBS-12 (West Palm Beach) noted, frozen iguanas are likely to recover with a little warm sunshine, but caution is needed. As they revive, they may feel threatened and try to bite.

The green iguanas are an invasive nonnative species that, like the Burmese python, is believed to have originated with released or escaped pets and has rapidly spread throughout the South Florida area.

The iguana’s plight was noteworthy enough to make the New York Times. Ron Magill, communications director for Zoo Miami, told the Times’ Patricia Mazzei that the iguanas climb trees to roost during the night, leaving them vulnerable to the effects of cold and gravity.

“When the temperature goes down, they literally shut down, and they can no longer hold on to the trees,” he said. “Which is why you get this phenomenon in South Florida that it’s raining iguanas.”

Sounds humorous, but since the reptiles can grow up to six feet long, they can cause a lot of damage on the way down, as one unlucky Davie reporter discovered when one hit his windshield:

Photo by saiberiac via Flickr

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker


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