Why do iguanas fall from trees when it’s cold? Here are 9 things to know

ORLANDO, Fla. — “Beware of falling iguanas,” a winter warning you will only hear in Florida.

Temperatures are set to drop in the Sunshine State low enough that iguanas may fall from trees. But why?


Channel 9 consulted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for 9 things you need to know about falling iguanas:

1. Green iguanas are not native to Florida and are considered an invasive species due to their impacts to native wildlife and infrastructure damage caused by burrowing/digging.

Read: Iguana causes power outage in South Florida city

2. When temperatures fall, so do iguanas because they become “cold-stunned.” The phenomenon happens when temperatures get close to freezing.

3. The low temperatures cause green iguanas to enter a state of physical inactivity where their muscle control shuts down temporarily, which can cause them to fall from trees.

4. This does not mean they’re dead! They can recover quickly when temperatures rise.

Read: City commissioner in Florida proposes paying bounties on iguanas

5. Don’t bring cold-stunted wild green iguanas into your home or your car. When they warm up they can use their long tails and sharp teeth and claws when defensive.

6. People cannot be in possession of live green iguanas without a permit as they are a prohibited species in Florida.

Read: Florida woman surprised by uninvited iguana in her toilet

7. Don’t relocate or release green iguanas (or any nonnative species). Wildlife officials said it is illegal and can harm native wildlife.

8. Homeowners can humanely kill green iguanas. Iguanas, like all nonnative, invasive species, are not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law.

9. If you are not able to safely remove iguanas from your property using humane methods, please seek assistance from a professional wildlife trapper.

Read: Experts warn green iguanas could soon be found in Central Florida

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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