The unseasonable chill sweeping Florida has left homeowners facing a bizarre weather phenomenon – a rain of frozen iguanas falling from the treetops. With temperatures hovering around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s simply too cold for the iguanas to move.
The scene at my backyard swimming pool this 40-degree South Florida morning: A frozen iguana. pic.twitter.com/SufdQI0QBx
— Frank Cerabino (@FranklyFlorida) January 4, 2018
After journalist Frank Cerabino tweeted a photo of a chilled iguana lying next to his pool, people have been sharing their own snaps of stunned lizards lying in yards, beside parking lots, and next to roads. According to Kristen Sommers, head of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s non-native fish and wildlife program, the warm-blooded animals start to have difficulty moving at around 50 degrees.
“They’ll fall out of trees,” Emily Maple, the Palm Beach County Zoo’s reptile keeper, told reporters. “They’ll end up in areas where your cars are, parking lots, areas where they’re cold stunned.” But reptile lovers, take heart: these frozen iguanas aren’t dead. It’s an adaptive mechanism that allows the iguanas to survive extreme cold. “If it’s just for a day or two they’ll just get to where they’re completely frozen in time,” Maple continued. They’re still able to breathe. They’re still able to do bodily functions, just very slow.”
Last week, NPR aired a segment on what you should do if you come across an icy iguana. While good Samaritans might want to take the chilled lizards inside, zookeeper Ron Macgill advises against it. “Incapacitated as you think [they are], they can give you a serious bite,” Macgill said on the segment. “They can give you a serious scratch, a serious whip with their tail.”
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