Even while in New York, in the middle of a snowstorm, I get to write about South Florida's most bizarre winter phenomenon: cold-stunned iguanas. https://t.co/iYGA4G1BvU
— Patricia Mazzei (@PatriciaMazzei) January 4, 2018
Beware the falling iguanas in South Florida.
When temperatures dip into the 30s and 40s, people from West Palm Beach to Miami know to be on the lookout for reptiles stunned — but not necessarily killed — by the cold. They can come back to life again when it warms up.
Iguanas, which can be as long as six feet, are not native to South Florida. They have proliferated in the subtropical heat, causing headaches for wildlife managers — and occasionally popping up in toilets. It took a prolonged cold spell to significantly reduce their population in 2010. (The same cold snap also resulted in the deaths of many invasive Burmese pythons.)
Iguanas climb up trees to roost at night, said Ron Magill, communications director for Zoo Miami.
“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.” (Including on windshields.)
The larger the iguana, the greater its chance of survival, Mr. Magill added.
“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,” he said. “The ones that survive that cold streak are basically passing on that gene.”
And they have a plan!
He suspects that, within a couple of decades, iguanas will creep north because they will be able to withstand colder climates.
More at the link.
Stay frosty, unless you’re experiencing bombogenesis, then stay toasty! And beware of falling iguanas!
Also, no iguanas were harmed in the writing of this post.