TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The National Weather Service is warning Floridians to beware of falling iguanas as cold temperatures sweep the southern portion of the state over the holiday.
“Brrr! Much colder temps expected for Christmas. Low temperatures in the 30s/40s and falling Iguanas are possible. Keep up with forecast changes and stay warm!” the weather service tweeted on Monday.
Iguanas will climb up trees at night to rest. When temperatures fall into the 40s, they can stiffen up and fall to the ground.
The iguanas won’t be dead, just immobilized, and will bounce back when they get some sun.
“Even if they look dead as a doornail — they’re gray and stiff — as soon as it starts to heat up and they get hit by the sun rays, it’s this rejuvenation,” Ron Magill, communications director for Zoo Miami, told The New York Times in 2018. “The ones that survive that cold streak are basically passing on that gene.”
Iguanas can become aggressive and bite or scratch when they thaw out, so if you see the reptiles, leave them alone.
Iguanas, also known as “pollo de los árboles,” or chicken of the trees, are native to South America, Central America and the Caribbean, and arrived in South Florida through the pet trade. The reptiles are known for eating valuable landscaping, plants, shrubs and trees, and digging burrows, causing damage to infrastructure.