'Frozen' iguanas dropping from trees in the Sunshine State

January 22, 2020
Erica Tricarico, Senior Editor
Erica Tricarico, Senior Editor

Iguanas are falling from the trees in South Florida, and unusually cold weather is to blame.

We’ve all heard the popular saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” but according to Miami’s Weather Service it literally has been raining iguanas. Yesterday, the weather service issued a warning to South Florida residents that temperatures were so low seemingly frozen iguanas could fall from trees and cause injury.

Once temperatures drop into the 40s (Fahrenheit), iguanas can go into a state of shock in which their blood starts to slow and they become extremely lethargic.

Ron Magill, communications director for Zoo Miami, told Q13 Fox, “The temperature threshold for when iguanas begin to go into a dormant state depends greatly on the size of the iguana" and that "generally speaking, the larger the iguana, the more cold it can tolerate for longer periods.”

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, green iguanas can grow to over five feet in length. Males weigh up to 17 pounds, making it potentially very dangerous if one falls on you. Females, although they can grow to the same length, don’t usually weigh more than seven pounds.

Anyone who finds a "frozen" iguana on the ground is warned to leave it alone. Although the iguanas may look dead, they could be alive—and may become very defensive once they are able to move. Iguanas can also transmit Salmonella to humans through contact with water or surfaces contaminated by their feces, according to the Florida Fish Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Luckily, the cold snap in South Florida is expected to end by Thursday.