The freezing temperatures that rattled the country’s eastern seaboard have had an unexpected effect: People on social media are sharing photos of “frozen” iguanas. Floridians have found iguanas that have fallen out of trees, lying around by pools and on sidewalks and roads. But if you live in the Sunshine State and see an iguana-sicle on the ground, the reptile is likely not dead. Iguanas are cold-blooded, which means when temperatures drop, they'll will stop moving completely.
“They’ll fall out of trees. They’ll end up in areas where your cars are, parking lots, areas where they’re cold stunned,” Emily Maple, a reptile keeper at Palm Beach County Zoo, told WPEC. “If it’s just for a day or two they’ll just get to where they’re completely frozen in time. They’re still able to breathe. They’re still able to do bodily functions just very slow.” So don’t have funerals for those iguanas just yet.
“Under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they become sluggish,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Kristen Sommers told The Independent. “Under 40 degrees, their blood stops moving as much.” While this is an unusual occurrence, frozen iguanas have fallen from trees in the past. In 2008, a cold snap in South Florida caused a number of iguanas to become immobile due to the freezing temperatures.
“The reality is South Florida doesn't get that cold very often or long enough that you see this frequently,” Sommers continued. So what should one do if they see one of these immobile iguanas? Experts warn that these reptiles are still wild animals, and may attack when they wake up. "I knew of a gentleman who was collecting them off the street and throwing them in the back of his station wagon, and all of a sudden these things are coming alive, crawling on his back and almost caused a wreck,” wildlife expert Ron Magill told WPLG TV in 2010. Iguanas aren’t the only animals that are struggling with the cold weather. The common snook, a fish native to Florida waters, and sea turtles may also appear dead due to the cold.