The green iguana population in Florida has been exploding due to consistent warm weather. But tonight, temperatures are expected to plunge into the 40’s which will lead to the cold blooded animals to literally freeze in their tracks. Sometimes, their rigid bodies will fall from the trees. Once they land on warm pavement, their body temperature eventually rises and they wake up.
Since iguanas are cold blooded, extended warm spells — like Florida has been seeing — allow them to thrive. A cold streak in 2009 made a significant dent in the population, but with rising temperatures, it’s not clear how much Florida can rely on cold weather to help curb the population.
According to the National Weather Service climate data, temperatures have only dropped below 50 degrees in Miami once in the last 18 months. Now a cold front is moving through south Florida and the iguanas will suffer as a result. If you see a lifeless iguana on the ground, give it some time, it might revive.
Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill suggests an alternative way of dealing with the population surge: eating them.
“In Central America, iguana is considered a delicacy and there are actually farms that raise them for meat. If that sentiment could take hold here, the desire for cheap and tasty protein could play a significant role in controlling their numbers,” Magill said.
Wasilewski understands why iguanas must be killed, but as someone who has studied iguanas for 40 years, he says it is bittersweet: “It saddens me that all of these magnificent animals, along with multitudes of other invasive reptile species have to be put down. There is no alternative for the problems.”