FORT MYERS, FLORIDA — Residents in South Florida may want to keep an eye out for more than just Santa Claus this Christmas Eve. With cold fronts forecasted for next week, one weatherman is predicting that iguanas could start falling out of trees next weekend.
On Thursday, Matt Devitt, Chief Meteorologist at WINK News in Southwest Florida, predicted a “Falling Iguana Advisory” for Christmas in light of a major arctic cold outbreak that will impact the Sunshine State. Temperatures in Miami could dip into the 40s on Friday, according to The Weather Channel.
“Falling Iguana Advisory for Christmas in South Florida, calling it now. Coldest air of the season so far just in time for the holidays,” Devitt tweeted. The tweet included a weather map of the U.S. showing cold temperatures forecast in many parts of the country
“I've enjoyed my visits to Florida, but I'm not sure I could move to a place where lizards occasionally fall from the sky,” one follower responded.
Iguanas are cold-blooded lizards that live in warmer climates and South Florida is overrun with the invasive creatures. Male green iguanas in the region can grow up to seven feet long and over fifteen pounds.
Although fascinating to look at, iguanas have become pests in South Florida. In 2020, the Palm Beach Post reported that they caused over $1.8 million in damage because their digging undermined a dam in West Palm Beach. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages landowners to humanely kill green iguanas on their property.
The strange phenomenon of “falling iguanas” occurs when the temperature drops lower than the bodies of these crawling reptiles can handle. Depending on their size, 40 degrees can be cold enough to stop the lizards in their tracks. When the iguanas lose their motor skills, they are immobilized and can suddenly fall out of trees. Once they land on the ground, they lie there frozen.
“Generally speaking, the larger the iguana, the more it survives without showing any type of lasting effects. The smaller ones, however – you know, when you get the 2-footers and smaller, those animals many times do not recover. And they end up dying from that type of cold,” Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill told NBC 8 in January. Magill recommended against touching the frozen animal, as it could bite or scratch someone once thawed out.