“Watch Out for Iguanas Falling From the Sky”

Aharon held out his arm over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. Exodus 8:2 (The Israel Bible™

Florida weather forecasters made a rather shocking announcement on Tuesday: Watch out for falling iguanas and lizards.

The pre-emptive warning from the National Weather Service comes in anticipation of unusually low temperatures..Green iguanas are herbivores and not normally a danger. However, like all reptiles, they are cold-blooded and prefer to sleep while perched in trees. They average full-grown green iguana can reach almost five feet in length from head to tail, although a few specimens have grown more than 6.6 feet and weighing upward of 20 pounds. When the weather dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the reptiles get sluggish and below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the iguanas go into a dormant or cold-stunned state. In this state, they can lose their somnambulant grip on their perch and fall. If the temperature remains in the low 40’s for more than eight hours, the stunned iguanas can die. 

Iguanas raining from the sky can happen in Florida whenever the temperature drops so the residents have learned to accept the danger of being pelted by falling iguanas as part of the price they pay for living in the Sunshine State. This has happened in 2008, 2010, and 2018 when the phenomenon was described by local media as “frozen iguana showers.”

It should be noted that iguanas found on the ground may merely be stunned and not dead. A person picking one up might be surprised as the iguana springs back to life, a bit angry at having its short-term hibernation disturbed. It is also not recommended that concerned citizens not take the opportunity to adopt an iguana. They have a pleasant disposition and are attractive, especially when exhibiting their ability to change colors. But they can be very demanding to care for properly. Space requirements and the need for special lighting and heat can prove challenging to the casual hobbyist.

The green iguana is native to Central and South America and is an endangered species in some countries where it is considered a delicacy but the species has been introduced to Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, Texas, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They first appeared in Florida in the 1960s. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission describes green iguanas as an invasive species not native to Florida. They can cause considerable damage to infrastructure, including seawalls and sidewalks. This species is not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law.