Winter weather has been bombarding the eastern coast of the United States this year. While places like New England were recently slammed with a foot of snow, other places which are not traditionally cold-weather locales are also getting hit hard.
But Florida is having as cold a winter as on record. The temperatures are so low that iguanas are falling out of the suburban neighborhood trees, where they usually live.
When temperatures dropped into the 30s, no one was prepared. But the lizards who need warm temperatures to survive did not fare well.
The near-freezing temps that blanketed South Florida, according to the National Weather Service in Miami, were a shock for all, including those who traveled south to get away from the cold.
Green iguanas were immobilized from the frigid temperatures.
Frank Cerabino, a columnist with the Palm Beach Post, tweeted a photograph of an iguana that had fallen from a tree. It was on the ground belly-up next to a swimming pool.
WPEC_TV also shared photos of a fallen iguana. Theirs was found on a road in Palm Beach County.
Iguanas live in South Florida because they have come to expect warm temperatures. They’re native to Central and South America. And when temperatures drop below 50 degrees, they become slow moving. But when temperatures drop below 40 degrees, they can become immobilized.
Kristen Sommers, who manages a non-native fish and wildlife program for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, spoke about how these iguanas are in bad shape.
“It’s too cold for them to move,” Sommers said.
Reptiles across the sunshine state are stricken with the condition. Besides green iguanas, sea turtles also struggle to move when temperatures get too low.
As Florida experiences some of the lowest temperatures on record, wildlife biologists are working overtime to rescue the amazing animals in the state. They have spotted seat turtles floating around helplessly. They have gone out to help warm these turtles back up, so they do not die.
But no one is helping the iguanas. They are on their own.
Officials are warning locals not to touch the stiffened iguanas. Do not contact them or bring them into your house. If they do warm up, they can feel threatened and bite.
“Don’t assume that they’re dead,” Sommers said.
Green iguanas can become 5 feet long. They are an invasive species that burrow under and destroy infrastructure. They also damage landscaping of the state.
The freezing temperatures are doing the wildlife commission a service. As they have already held classes and workshops to train homeowners to trap iguanas, the freezing temperatures make it even easier.
“This (cold weather) provides an opportunity to captures some, but I’m not sure it’s going to be cold enough for long enough to make enough of a difference,” Sommers said. “In most cases, they’re going to warm back up and move around again, unless they’re euthanized.”
Did you know that temperatures were getting cold enough in Florida to immobilize the iguanas? What should be done about this invasive species?