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Iguanas may fall from trees during Florida cold snap

Once temperatures reach a certain level, iguanas stiffen up and fall out of trees

File photo.
File photo. (Copyright (c) 2019 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

ROANOKE, Va. – As southwest and central Virginia fall into the teens again Wednesday morning, parts of Florida will see temperatures drop into the 30s and 40s. Morning lows at or below 40° are expected for places like Orlando, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Fort Myers, and Naples just to name a few places.

Different National Weather Service offices have issued freeze alerts, in addition to wind chill advisories.

NWS Headlines - Florida
NWS Headlines - Florida

A wind chill advisory here would indicate wind chills below zero to 15 or 20° below. In south Florida, a wind chill advisory is issued when the wind chill falls between 25 and 35°.

Once temperatures reach a certain level, iguanas stiffen up and fall out of trees. This is due to their cold-blooded nature, so it isn’t new. It’s also something that has been observed over the years in south Florida. At about 50°, iguanas can become lethargic. It’s when the temperature drops to about 40 or lower that their blood doesn’t move around as quickly. As a result, they can stiffen up and fall out of the trees in which they frequent.

When iguanas fall from trees
When iguanas fall from trees

While this kind of behavior has been documented before, it is far from normal. Part of that could have to do with how infrequent temperatures drop to this level in south Florida. For areas like Fort Myers or West Palm Beach, temperatures only dip into the 30s about 3-4 times each year (on average).

One thing that could save iguanas from a harsh descent from their trees is the fact that this cold air won’t last long in the sunshine state. In fact, high temperatures across most of south Florida will rebound into the 60s Wednesday afternoon.


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