The National Weather Service has issued a warning for some Florida residents: Beware of falling iguanas. As temperatures in parts of the state dip this week, the cold-blooded lizards slow down or become motionless and can drop from trees onto unsuspecting pedestrians below.
“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,” wrote the National Weather Service of Miami-South Florida on Tuesday. “Brrrr!”
The agency also posted an infographic explaining the strange — but very real phenomenon. It indicated temperatures Tuesday night in the metro Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach area and Interior and Gulf Coast region put the creatures at risk of falling.
The iguanas are an invasive species, native to Central and South America. They begin to get sluggish when temperatures fall under 50 degrees, Kristen Sommers, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), said in 2018. If temperatures drop below that, iguanas freeze up.
While the animals aren’t dead, well-meaning residents finding stiffened iguanas are advised to leave them alone, as the animals may feel threatened and bite once they warm up.
Iguana’s aren’t the only reptiles averse to chilly weather: Sea turtles also stiffen up in cold temperature.
Last year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) garnered outrage from citizens and animal activist groups after releasing a statement instructing residents to kill the state’s invasive green iguana population “whenever possible.”
The FWC eventually updated its approach with a new plea that urges the public to “seek assistance from professionals who do this for a living” if they cannot remove the animal safely from their property.