Thursday, 27 Feb 2020

Cold snap with chance of falling iguanas in Florida

MIAMI (AFP) – Green iguanas are considered a nuisance in Florida, where they are blamed for causing considerable damage to everything from seawalls to sidewalks – not to mention menacing endangered butterflies and snails.

But the invasive species may have met their match in an unusual cold snap which sent thermometers plummeting in Florida, rendering the cold-blooded reptiles paralysed.

“This isn’t something we usually forecast, but don’t be surprised if you see iguanas falling from the trees tonight as lows drop into the 30s and 40s ( between -1 and 4 deg C). Brrrr,” tweeted the National Weather Service in Miami.

Such conditions are unusual in the normally balmy US state, where winter temperatures typically don’t fall below 18 deg C or so.

Many people don’t have the proper heating at home or clothing to cope with the freezing temperatures – something also true of the state’s animals.

An infographic attached to the tweet added that although the cold-stunned creatures may appear to have met their end, “they are not dead”.

Last January, another cold front saw a similar deluge of frozen iguanas, with members of the public sharing pictures on social media, and bringing them home to defrost – something the authorities discourage since the wild animals may attack humans once revived.

The species is not native to Florida but was brought in by travellers from Central and South America in the 1960s.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has declared open season on the iguanas, writing on its website that it encourages homeowners to remove them from their property, while killing them on public lands is permissible without a license.

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