When frigid temperatures hit Florida, most humans can go inside, snuggle up, and wait it out. Not so for iguanas. According to reports from local residents, the reptiles were falling from trees onto roads, gardens, and even windshields. This doesn’t mean all the iguanas were dead – they were stunned, and there’s a chance they could come back to live when they warmed up.
Zoo Miami communications director Ron Magill told The New York Times the reptiles “literally shut down, and they can no longer hold on to the trees.”
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But the stunned iguanas may return to life. The bigger the reptile, the better the chance it will survive. Magill said, “Even if they look dead as a doornail – they’re gray and stiff – as soon as it starts to heat up and they get hit by the sun rays, it’s this rejuvenation. The ones that survive that cold streak are basically passing on that gene.” He thinks in a couple decades, iguanas might be able to endure colder climates and may start working their way north.
According to BuzzFeed, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) experts said people should leave the iguanas alone – they can bite once they thaw out. Iguanas can be six feet long; one woman shared a video of a man carrying one of the reptiles nearly as long as he is tall on Facebook:
I love all the Bomb Cyclone photos!!! Here’s a video for you – frozen iguana!
Posted by Jenna Isola on Thursday, January 4, 2018
It’s not just the iguanas who were impacted by the cold. The FWC said a similar phenomenon can occur with sea turtles. Their news release said, “When the water temperatures drop, stunned sea turtles may float listlessly in the water or near shore. Although these turtles may appear to be dead, they are often still alive.”
Check out our Facebook Live to see our staff rescue cold-stunned sea #turtles! https://t.co/YNmLDsHT45 #Florida pic.twitter.com/hRlXrPYp0A
— MyFWC (@MyFWC) January 4, 2018
Via The New York Times, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and BuzzFeed
Images via Maxine Bentzel on Twitter and Frank Cerabino on Twitter