MIAMI — When people get too cold in Florida, they can order some churros. When iguanas get too cold, they can go into a catatonic state and drop frozen-stiff from the trees.
And with an arctic cold front blasting much of the country, and alarmingly low temperatures moving closer to the Sunshine State, Floridians may see some frozen iguanas plop into their yards and onto their patios.
The National Weather Service issued a wind chill advisory for Saturday morning, with temperatures forecast in the 40s and feeling even colder.
That means the cold-blooded green iguanas, which rely on external heat to regulate body temperature, may be changing before our eyes. When the mercury drops below 50 degrees, some go into a hibernation-like state and plummet from above.
“With colder temperatures coming our way this holiday weekend, you might see nonnative green iguanas in a state of torpor, where they temporarily lose all muscle control,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission said in a Facebook post.
Though iguanas may look dead when they’re in this bizarre condition, they are still very much alive — and potentially dangerous if you mess with them.
The state’s advice for those who see one looking paralyzed? Let nature do its thing. They’ll wake up sooner or later and do what iguanas do again.
While most people leave iguanas alone, whether they’re moving or not, anyone with a soft streak should beware: Don’t go near a frozen iguana, and certainly don’t bring one inside your cozy home to revive it.
Because once these guys thaw out, watch out. They may get aggressive, and you may get scratched or bitten.
“They can recover more quickly than you think and become defensive,” the Fish and Wildlife agency said, “using their long tails and sharp teeth and claws.”
But if you want to do something for them, donate to an organization like Zoo Miami’s International Iguana Foundation, which helps generate public awareness about the invasive reptiles.