Frigid Temperatures Cause Frozen Iguanas to Fall From Trees

PetMD Editorial
Updated: May 16, 2017
Published: January 07, 2010
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January 7, 2010

Miami's unusual cold snap that brought down temperatures to the mid-30s Thursday morning also had frozen lizards falling from trees. 

The large lizards, which thrive best in higher, sub-tropical temperatures, go into a type of hibernation when the temperature drops below 40F. In this state of hibernation, all body functions but the heart switch off, causing them to lose their grip on tree branches and drop to the ground. There are many reports of iguanas being found in yards, on sidewalks, even in the middle of streets, seemingly lifeless.

"It's almost like they totally go to sleep," Ron Magill of Miami Metrozoo told The Daily Telegraph. "Generally speaking, if it warms up afterwards, they can recover."

Originally from Central and South America, these exotic creatures were probably introduced to Florida in the the mid-90s by pet owners who had either lost or released them. Now viewed as bothersome pests, some South Florida residents are taking advantage of the cold spell to rid themselves of the iguanas.

Be forewarned, it could be quite tricky to move an iguana once it starts coming back to life. Authorities recommend contacting the Florida Fish and Game Commission.

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Image source: Steven Wong/Flickr