According to the National Weather Service in Miami, temperatures dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It is so cold in Florida that iguanas are falling from their perches in suburban trees.
The cold weather was enough to immobilize green iguanas common in Miami’s suburbs.
Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino tweeted a photograph of an iguana lying belly-up next to his swimming pool. The cold-blooded creatures native to Central and South America, begin to get sluggish when temperatures fall below 50 degrees, said Kristen Sommers, who oversees the non-native fish and wildlife program for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“It’s too cold for them to move,” Sommers said. Iguanas freeze up if temperatures drop below that.
They are not the only reptiles that are affected by this cold snap: Sea turtles also stiffen up when temperatures fall. The wildlife commission’s biologists have been rescuing cold-stunned sea turtles found floating listlessly on the water or near shore. However, there was no such rescue is planned for iguanas.
Residents finding stiffened iguanas are advised to leave them alone since they may feel threatened and bite once they warm up.
“Don’t assume that they’re dead,” Sommers said.
Green iguanas, an invasive species in Florida, are known for eating through landscaping and digging burrows that undermine infrastructure. They can grow over 5 feet long, and their droppings can be a potential source of salmonella bacteria which can cause food poisoning.
The wildlife commission has been holding workshops to train homeowners and property managers to trap or manage iguanas.
“This provides an opportunity to capture some, but I’m not sure it’s going to be cold enough for long enough to make enough of a difference,” she said. “In most cases, they’re going to warm back up and move around again, unless they’re euthanized.”
In 2010, after a two-week cold snap with temperatures below 40 degrees, many iguanas were killed off along with Burmese pythons and other invasive pests that thrive in South Florida’s subtropical climate. Those populations have since rebounded.
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