Extreme winter weather in New England made headlines this past weekend, like this one:
With Stoughton, MA “winning” – or losing – the “snowfall jackpot,” depending on whether you’re just reading about all that snow, or shoveling it:
But snow wasn’t the only thing that was falling last weekend.
In Florida, they had a different challenge:
According to the article, the National Weather Service – the government agency that is “tasked with providing weather forecasts, warnings of hazardous weather, and other weather-related products” – was also tasked with predicting lizard activity:
“The National Weather Service Miami-South Florida warned the public on Sunday that immobilized iguanas could fall out of trees due to unusually cold temperatures across the region.”
The cause, says the article, is that iguanas are cold-blooded, and they slow down or become immobile when temps drop into the 40s. “They may fall from trees, but they are not dead.”
Temperatures in South Florida reached a low of 25 degrees Fahrenheit on the morning of January 30, and what was once a nimble tree climber gets cold, passes out…
…loses its grip and flops onto the sidewalk, the patio, or in the case of the headline at the top of this post…
OK, I’ll admit it – I made up that headline. It’s fake news. But it could happen.
And since these iguanas can grow to more than five feet in length and weigh up to 20 pounds, they would do some damage.
It appears, though, that Floridians take this reptilian event in stride.
This Hollywood, FL resident calmly shot a video of frozen iguanas littering her yard:
And then calmly picked them up and “moved them into the sun.”
While this lizard lover…
…held a frozen iguana in front of their outdoor heater until, I assume, the thawed iguana slithered away.
Or they had barbecued iguana for dinner.
Helping frozen iguanas may be unwise, since, according to this article:
“Others may try to warm them up, but experts say that’s not the best course of action, since the reptiles can bite when frightened. It’s also illegal to heat them up and then release them.”
The NBC News article went on to say that these are green iguanas and not native to Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They were accidentally introduced as stowaways in cargo ships and are considered an invasive species.
So invasive, and there are so many – estimates say more than 20,000 – that some enterprising folks have started iguana wrangling companies, like this guy. He’ll come to your house, catch the critter, and hopefully take it far, far away:
That’s the reporter on the right, who couldn’t resist a reptilian pun:
“And with tomorrow’s forecast back in the 70s, I-guana know…when will it rain like this again?”
Sorry, pal, but the National Weather Service can’t predict when it will “rain like this again.” Though it probably will – this isn’t the first time frozen iguanas have fallen from trees.
Here’s a Weather Service tweet from January 2020:
While this 2021 article…
…cited this Miami Herald video going back to January 2010:
And though that Today Show story said warming up frozen iguanas was illegal, the SPCA Wildlife Care Center spokesperson in the video suggested that if you do:
- Wrap the frozen iguana in a warm towel. (You can put the towel in the dryer for a few minutes – repeat, the towel, not the iguana.)
- Keep the iguana contained in a garage or bathroom temporarily.
- When the iguana becomes warm again, it will wake up and you can release it.
“It will wake up.”
And before you can release it outside, it will bite and/or scratch you, then run amok, poop all over your house, claw the sofa to shreds, eat your refrigerator and possibly your pet…
With all due respect to those iguana rescuers…
I think I’ll pass on the rescue bit.
In fact, I think I’ll pass on Florida altogether.
Iguanas aren’t Florida’s only nasty, reptilian species…