As Floridians grapple with record cold — and a blanket of snow in some parts of the state — there’s a new complication that’s more pressing than closing Disney parks and record lines outside hardware stores for space heaters: Iguanas.
The reptiles are a nuisance in the state, according to the Palm Beach Post. Iguanas — several breeds of which have flourished in the Floridian climate, according to the University of Florida — largely eat plants, including landscaping; burrow under foundations and other construction; and leave waste that can carry salmonella.
The recent cold snap threatens to make them even more of a nuisance, with cold temperatures causing the cold-blooded animals to enter a state of sluggishness or unconscious hibernation. It’s leading to a lot of scaly surprised for Floridians, who are finding the “cold-stunned” lizards everywhere.
In short, as temperatures fall, stiffened iguanas are falling from trees.
The worst part? Like the “stunned” in “cold-stunned” implies, almost none of them are actually dead. This cold snap — unlike one that shocked Florida in 2010 — isn’t long enough to kill the reptiles (or Burmese Pythons, another nuisance reptile). Temperatures are expected to get into the 30s, but they won’t stay there long enough to do much harm to the invasive populations.
It’s just enough to force them to hibernate. That means that it just takes a little heat to warm them up and is a good reason to exercise extreme caution in handling the temporarily frozen reptiles.
Broward County authorities warn that iguanas, while “typically not aggressive,” will nevertheless defend themselves “against pets and against people who try to catch or corner them.” For Florida homeowners, the county has a set of tips on deterring and otherwise inconveniencing iguanas here, though even the county admits the lizards are “probably here to stay.”