Matt Devitt, the chief meteorologist for WINK News in Florida, shared a graphic on Thursday warning residents "from Sanibel to Cape Coral to Naples" to keep an eye open for raining reptiles.
The temperature in the state's southwest is expected to drop into the 40s — 30s with windchill — over the weekend. The cold snap is part of a broader system that brought snow and ice to huge swaths of the US this week.
Iguanas typically prefer hot climates, ideally no lower than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. But every so often temperatures drop enough — 45F or lower — to essentially force the cold-blooded lizards into a flash hibernation until warmer air returns.
This can cause tree-dwelling Iguanas to fall from branches and onto the ground. Residents in Florida are regularly warned to leave the stiff iguanas alone. Even though the reptiles aren't moving, they're still alive, and can recover once the climate suits their scales.
Because iguanas are an invasive reptile species in Florida, residents are permitted to humanely kill the creatures. However, those hoping to use them as a snack are warned they do so at their own risk.
Human Iguana Control, an iguana removal service operating in Florida, warned that eating iguana meat or iguana eggs can be hazardous to humans.
*FALLING IGUANAS* possible this weekend in Southwest Florida as the coldest air of the season moves in Sunday morning. We have a pretty sizable iguana population from Sanibel to Cape Coral to Naples. Locally, lows will dip into the 40s, wind chills in the 30s by sunrise. 🥶🦎… pic.twitter.com/PSzk4JZuvN
— Matt Devitt (@MattDevittWX) January 18, 2024
“We highly advise against consuming these wild reptiles. Iguanas are herbivores and primarily feed on landscaping plants and fruits found around homes and businesses. Unfortunately, the flora in these areas is often treated with pesticides, which can pose significant health risks,” the service said on its website.
The website recommends only eating iguana at restaurants serving up food grade meat.
“Eating wild iguanas can be risky because they may have been exposed to pesticides and diseases. If you want to try iguana dishes, it’s best to look for places where iguanas are raised for people to eat," it said.
So, to recap: its going to get cold, and iguanas may fall from the sky. If they do, leave them alone, they aren't dead, they're freezing. If a resident kills them, they should do it humanely, and not eat them. When it gets warm again, they'll wake back up and get back to doing iguana business until the next big chill.