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Frozen Florida iguanas cold-stunned, but probably not dead

Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 1:49 PM
By: Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post

South Florida has seen iguanas proliferate in the past few years with abnormally warm temperatures. 

This cold snap may be a rude awakening.

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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said iguanas can become immobilized or sluggish when temperatures hit 40 - 50 degrees.

On Thursday morning, it hit 38 degrees at Palm Beach International Airport and isn’t expected to climb out of the 50s during the day.

While you may see cold-stunned iguanas on the sidewalk or in your backyard, wildlife officials warn they may even fall out of the trees.

But it would take a longer run of cold days to do kill the invasive nuisance, which eat landscaping, dig burrows that undermine foundations and produce droppings that can carry salmonella bacteria.

That happened in January 2010 when South Florida experienced nearly two weeks where the temperatures reached into the 30- to 40-degree range.

Not only was a substantial portion of the iguana population killed, Burmese pythons also died.

“Many pythons were reported dead, floating in the Everglades,” a statement from FWC said. “Although the iguana or python population may have some mortality occur, the length of time of cold weather may not be enough during this cold snap to make a significant difference.”

Be forewarned that a cold-paralyzed iguana, or a knight anole as seen in the photo above, can become active again when temperatures begin to warm. That means it’s probably not a good idea to bring them inside.