In Brief

Why it’s raining frozen iguanas in Florida

National Weather Service warns of reptiles dropping out of trees as temperatures plummet

Pedestrians in south Florida are facing an unusual hazard following a cold snap in the region -  falling frozen iguanas.

As The Guardian reports, iguanas are “susceptible to freezing once temperatures drop to around 40F (4.44C)”, and “when frozen, these cold-blooded creatures lose their grip on the cosy trees they call home and slip”.

The US National Weather Service (NWS) issued a warning about the falling reptiles on Tuesday evening, as well as a wind chill advisory for the southern part of the state.

“Don’t be surprised if you see iguanas falling from the trees tonight as lows drop into the 30s and 40s,” the NWS tweeted. “Brrrr!”

According to The New York Times, “watching lizards seemingly fall out of the sky is nothing new for Floridians, many of whom are used to seeing the reptiles drop from trees when the temperature dips”.

“They literally shut down, and they can no longer hold on to the trees,” Ron Magill, communications director for Zoo Miami, told newspaper following a similar “downpour” in 2018. 

Iguanas can reach 5ft in length and weigh up to 1st 6lb (9kg), so it “can be dangerous if one lands on top of you”, says CNN.

But freezing solid may not be fatal for the reptiles, which sometimes return to life after conditions warm up.

“Even if they look dead as a doornail - they’re grey and stiff - as soon as it starts to heat up and they get hit by the sun rays, it’s this rejuvenation,” Magill said. “The ones that survive that cold streak are basically passing on that gene.”

However, “not everyone is concerned about the well-being of these iguanas”, adds CNN, which explains that they are “considered an invasive species, so some people are looking forward to an opportunity to rid their yards of these reptiles”.

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