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Why frozen iguanas are falling from trees in Florida

The cold-blooded reptiles can go into a state of shock as temperatures plunge.
/ Source: TODAY

While the Northeast continues to dig itself out after a snowstorm thwacked the region over the weekend, cold weather in Florida has also impacted an unlikely group.

Frozen iguanas cold-stunned by the chilly temps are now falling out of trees. Temperatures have fallen into the 40s, sending the reptiles into shock and causing them to lose their grip on trees. The situation has become so prevalent that the National Weather Service issued a warning about falling iguanas.

“When you have temperatures going down that low, what happens is their body literally shuts down,” Miami Zoo wildlife expert Ron Magill said. “They get into almost a coma-type of situation.”

Iguanas, which can grow up to 6 feet in length, were originally found near the equator, but were brought to Florida as pets decades ago. Some were set loose and the population grew, since creating havoc within communities.

“They’ll feed on every flower you have in the garden,” Magill said. “They burrow onto roads, they burrow into sea walls.”

Don't worry! Frozen iguanas are usually back up and at 'em when temps start to rise again.
Don't worry! Frozen iguanas are usually back up and at 'em when temps start to rise again.TODAY

Some people have elected to catch iguanas in their cold-stunned states. Others may try to warm them up, but experts say that’s not the best course action, since the reptiles can bite when frightened. It’s also illegal to heat them up and then release them.

Iguanas had also fallen from trees in 2018 and in 2020 due to cold weather. The chill usually doesn’t hurt them, as long as temperatures eventually jump back to the 60s and 70s.