Frozen iguanas falling out of trees as icy weather hits Florida

Telegraph Reporters
The cold weather causes paralysis in the animals - Reuters

Authorities in Florida have warned residents to watch out for a strange phenomenon during the unusual cold weather - iguanas falling from trees.

Iguanas are a common sight in Florida and are considered a nuisance, often being blamed for harming populations of butterflies and snails and digging burrows that damage infrastructure. But the lizards could be hit hard by unseasonably cold weather in Florida which can paralyse cold-blooded animals.

"This isn't something we usually forecast,” the National Weather Service in Miami tweeted, “but don't be surprised if you see iguanas falling from the trees tonight as lows drop into the 30s and 40s. Brrrr.” 

That drop in temperature - to between -1C and 4C - is uncommon for the usually-warm Florida, where even in winter the temperatures rarely fall below about 18C (65F).

The service said that although the stunned creatures may appear to have met their end, "they are not dead”.

Adult male iguanas can reach 5ft in length, and weigh up to 20 pounds, making them very dangerous if they landed on passers-by.

Like the iguanas, many Florida residents have been caught off-guard by the cold weather and do not have proper heating at home or winter clothes.

Last January, a drop in temperatures led to a number of frozen iguanas. Residents shared pictures on social media and in some cases brought the animals home to help them defrost, something the authorities do not encourage as iguanas have been known to attack humans.

The reptiles are not native to Florida and were brought to the state by travelers from Central and South America in the 1960s.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission encourages homeowners to remove them from their property, while killing them on public lands is permissible without a license.

The cold weather in Florida has closed Universal Orlando Resort and a Disney World water park.

A two-week cold period in 2010, when temperatures fell below 40F, killed many iguanas and Burmese pythons, another Florida pest.