Florida weather forecasters made a rather shocking announcement on Tuesday: Watch out for falling iguanas and lizards.
Jan 21 – This isn’t something we usually forecast, but don’t be surprised if you see Iguanas falling from the trees tonight as lows drop into the 30s and 40s. Brrrr! #flwx #miami pic.twitter.com/rsbzNMgO01
— NWS Miami (@NWSMiami) January 21, 2020
The pre-emptive warning from the National Weather Service comes in anticipation of unusually low temperatures..Green iguanas are herbivores and not normally a danger. However, like all reptiles, they are cold-blooded and prefer to sleep while perched in trees. They average full-grown green iguana can reach almost five feet in length from head to tail, although a few specimens have grown more than 6.6 feet and weighing upward of 20 pounds. When the weather dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the reptiles get sluggish and below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the iguanas go into a dormant or cold-stunned state. In this state, they can lose their somnambulant grip on their perch and fall. If the temperature remains in the low 40’s for more than eight hours, the stunned iguanas can die.
Iguanas raining from the sky can happen in Florida whenever the temperature drops so the residents have learned to accept the danger of being pelted by falling iguanas as part of the price they pay for living in the Sunshine State. This has happened in 2008, 2010, and 2018 when the phenomenon was described by local media as “frozen iguana showers.”
It’s so cold the iguanas are freezing and falling out of trees @CBS12 pic.twitter.com/9nCTfKPaGJ
— Maxine Streicher (@MaxineStreicher) January 4, 2018
The iguana fared well but he has another cold night ahead! pic.twitter.com/zR0PFI7Oku
— Kay Pavkovich (@kay_pavkovich) January 4, 2018
The scene at my backyard swimming pool this 40-degree South Florida morning: A frozen iguana. pic.twitter.com/SufdQI0QBx
— Frank Cerabino (@FranklyFlorida) January 4, 2018
It’s so cold in Florida that iguanas are falling from their perches in suburban trees https://t.co/hVARp8LMkW pic.twitter.com/kic85v7Zx2
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 4, 2018
It should be noted that iguanas found on the ground may merely be stunned and not dead. A person picking one up might be surprised as the iguana springs back to life, a bit angry at having its short-term hibernation disturbed. It is also not recommended that concerned citizens not take the opportunity to adopt an iguana. They have a pleasant disposition and are attractive, especially when exhibiting their ability to change colors. But they can be very demanding to care for properly. Space requirements and the need for special lighting and heat can prove challenging to the casual hobbyist.
The green iguana is native to Central and South America and is an endangered species in some countries where it is considered a delicacy but the species has been introduced to Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, Texas, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They first appeared in Florida in the 1960s. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission describes green iguanas as an invasive species not native to Florida. They can cause considerable damage to infrastructure, including seawalls and sidewalks. This species is not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law.