Florida may be known as the Sunshine State, but temperatures fell so low earlier this week that iguanas in the southern portion of the state “froze,” and in some cases, fell from trees. When overnight lows of 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit were predicted on Jan. 21, the National Weather Service Miami took to Twitter to warn residents that they might see some iguanas falling from trees in the metro area.
“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,” warned the tweet. “Brrrr! #flwx #miami”:
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 graphic in the tweet explained that because iguanas are cold-blooded, they slow down and can become immobile when temperatures reach the 40s or below. It noted that while they may fall out of trees and appear lifeless, the lizards are not dead.
In fact, this non-native species goes into shock because of the cold and they can die if the cold snap continues. If the weather becomes warm again quickly, however, they may wake up.
Twitter user Maria M. Bilbao confirmed in a tweet that falling iguanas do indeed exist and provided photo evidence:
— Maria M. Bilbao (@mariagarciafl) January 22, 2020
People naturally took advantage of this strange phenomenon. The Miami Herald reports that people were picking up the iguanas, which are considered a nuisance due to the amount of property damage they do, and are selling their meat online as “chicken of the trees.”
Others warned people to take care, as the the invasive green iguanas can grow up to five feet long and weigh 17 lbs. Large ones falling from trees can hurt people or animals standing underneath.
This Instagram post from @aliyajasmine includes multiple pictures of stunned iguanas, and even shows a video of one awakening from his cold-weather stupor.
View this post on Instagram
#WildlifeWednesday ð¦ THIS IS NOT A JOKE: If your feed today is full of #FrozenIguanas and #FallingIguanas it’s because the @NWS in #Miami *actually* put out a warning for falling temperatures – AND – FALLING ð¦’s !!! A local news station reported that these reptiles living in #SoFlo can grow up to 5 feet long and 20LBS – so you don’t want one falling out of a tree and hitting you! . .ð¦ . The reason they are falling? #Iguanas are cold-blooded lizards and they slow down and stiffen when temps drop. This causes them to lose grip of the trees in which they sleep – and ultimately, fall down. They look dead – but they’re not! . .ð¦ . Will they be OK? I mean…assuming the fall from the tree wasn’t TOO hard, experts say they should be fine when temperatures warm up. The problem is…if they don’t warm up within 8 hours, YES they will likely die. But they aren’t getting much sympathy in #SouthFlorida because iguanas are actually an invasive species causing a lot of environmental damage. So many argue that instead of trying to warm them up (they can bite once they start moving!) it’s better to just let nature run it’s course. . .ð¦ . Since I sorta feel bad for them ð¤·ð½âï¸ Swipe â¡ï¸ to see the last video of one warming up and coming back to life! ð¥¶ð¦âï¸ What would you do if you saw a frozen iguana fall? . .ð¦ . (ð¸/ð¥ Repost: @adjalp @lifewithweather @triple_ween_team @seasthaday @jenallegretti @sunsentinel )
This is not the first time that the phenomenon has been observed in Florida. Back in January 2018, temperatures dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of South Florida, and people began to spot iguanas that were unable to move.
Twitter user @FranklyFlorida posted a photo of an iguana laid out on his back at the edge of his backyard pool:
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
Iguanas are not the only victims of the recent cold in Florida, either. The frigid temperatures forced some water parks in the popular vacation destination of Orlando to close. Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort was closed Monday through Wednesday, but is back in operation now. Other parks that closed during the cold weather included Aquatica Orlando and Disney’s Blizzard Beach.
However, the cold weather appears to be over, and the forecast for Florida remains in the 70s for the next week — so the rest of us can go back to wishing we were there! And hopefully, the iguanas have recovered and are back in action.