What is Causing Iguanas to Fall Out of Trees in Florida?
Iguanas are not natives of Florida, but their population has risen steadily over the last few years. They originally come from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands.
Iguanas arrived in Florida as pets, but they quickly turned into a nuisance as they began to flourish in the state’s warm subtropical climate.
Even though these omnivorous reptiles are generally harmless, they can cause great damage to property. They dig burrows, causing great havoc on sidewalks, canal banks, building foundations, and seawalls, leading to their collapse. They can also destroy your landscaping.
Iguanas spend most of their time sleeping on trees and basking in the sun in canopies. They only descend to mate, nest, lay eggs, eat, and change habitat.
Recently, Floridians have witnessed an interesting phenomenon revolving around these large lizards. Iguanas are falling off trees, and everyone is asking why.
This post explains what is causing iguanas to fall out of trees in Florida. Continue reading the unearth the mystery behind this spectacle.
Why are iguanas falling off trees in Florida?
As you probably know, Florida is renowned as the Sunshine State because of its warm subtropical climate. This weather makes it the ideal environment for iguanas to thrive.
Iguanas love warm weather, and you will usually find them on top of trees basking in the sun. You will find them on trees with heavy foliage and flowers. They also love fruit trees except for orange, lemon, and citrus trees because the acidic nature of these fruits is harmful to their health.
However, things have changed recently, and iguanas are falling off trees in Florida like nobody’s business. The reason why they are falling out of trees is the cold weather.
If you’ve noticed, Florida has become so cold during winter that iguanas cannot withstand the extreme conditions. Like most reptiles, Iguanas are cold-blooded, which means they cannot endure temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They rely upon the sun and natural heat to keep warm through a process called homeostasis.
Freezing temperatures make them immobile and inactive. If the weather gets too cold, they can sometimes freeze and end up in a coma. While in this state, iguanas resting on treetops and branches effectively lose their grip and fall off.
Their bodies shut down, and the lizards lose their functions. When it gets too cold, the iguanas lose the ability to hang on and eventually fall off the trees and branches.
The last time Floridians witnessed this phenomenon of iguanas falling out of trees was in 2010. That year, the cold snap wiped out a large population of these large lizards since it took a while before the temperatures could rise again back to 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Experts do not expect many iguanas to die from the cold snap this year since many forecasters do not expect the temperatures to drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the few coming weeks.
According to a tweet by the U.S. National Weather Service Miami-South Florida, frozen iguanas and those in a coma are not dead. They will become active again once the temperatures rise and the weather becomes warmer. For this reason, people should avoid touching fallen iguanas as they might bite when frightened.
Where are iguanas falling out of trees in Florida?
Most iguanas are falling off trees in South Florida, which has experienced one of its worst cold seasons in recent times.
South Florida has witnessed some of the coldest temperatures in over a decade, with temps reaching a low of 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Conversely, the Northeast experienced a deadly winter storm, leading to the cancelation of over 1,000 flights.
The reason iguanas are vulnerable to cold temperatures because they are not natives of regions that experience winter. They come from tropical countries in Central and South America with warmer climates.
Even though Florida is the Sunshine State, it usually goes through winter, with temperatures dropping during the cold season. South Florida is one of the coldest parts of the state during winter, which explains why most iguanas are falling out of trees in this region.
Fortunately, experts expect the temperatures to rise in the coming weeks. Iguanas can comfortably survive temperatures above 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit without falling out of trees, although they will appear sluggish.
How do iguanas freeze?
As you already know by now, iguanas are cold-blooded reptiles, which means they need to stay warm to survive and remain comfortable. They bask in the sun and seek natural heat from the surroundings for warmth, which explains why they prefer to live on trees.
The ideal temperature for an iguana is 80F to 100F. When temperatures drop below 40F, iguanas become sluggish and immobilized. Lower temperatures can also cause them to freeze into a diapause state, where their body processes come to a halt. The iguanas then fall into a coma and only use a small amount of body fat to stay alive until the temperatures rise again.
Can iguanas survive cold weather?
Even though iguanas are cold-blooded reptiles that thrive in warmer climates, they can survive cold weather. However, the temperatures must not be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit lest the iguanas will slow down or become immobile.
In extreme circumstances, the iguanas will freeze and fall into a coma. Their bodies will stop functioning normally, and the lizard will appear dead, although it is not. When an iguana is immobile or frozen, it loses its grip on trees, which explains why most iguanas fall off trees during the cold seasons.
Are frozen iguanas dead?
Frozen iguanas are not dead but in an inactive state. They remain immobile for a while as they consume their body fat to remain alive during extreme weather conditions. If the temperature continues to drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the frozen iguana might not survive any longer.
Fortunately, cold temperatures do not last below 40 degrees for too long, particularly in Florida. Most experts expect the frozen iguanas to survive the cold season and “come back to life.”
Iguanas falling out of trees in Florida is a phenomenon that only happens once in a while. That is why Florida is a special place to visit for interesting sites and spectacles.
Interested in learning about becoming a resident in Florida or moving there? Read more.