Year after year, Floridians encounter a spooky sight on their sidewalks: iguanas fallen from trees. As soon as the sun rises, these immobilized reptiles spring to life.
This event is due to a unique weather pattern hitting the tropical climate of South Florida. Far from being as destructive as a hurricane that makes landfall, the phenomenon of iguana rains numbed by the cold, however, grabs attention.
And for good reason: These charming, cold-blooded reptiles, though not native to Florida, struggle to maintain their core body temperature when outdoor air temperatures drop.
Heat shock causes iguanas to become stiff, immobile, and therefore much more likely to fall from trees at night.
Iguanas are considered an invasive species in Florida. As adults, these can be up to five feet long and weigh up to 25 pounds.
And their annual falls are not without consequences. Large lizards falling from trees can injure passers-by, who don’t normally expect the reptiles to rain down. These scaly projectiles can also do serious damage to Florida sidewalks.