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Holiday Forecast Calls For 'Falling Iguanas' In South Florida

MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) -- Temperatures have taken a tumble just in time for Christmas and that means the National Weather Service in Miami is calling for "falling iguanas" in its holiday forecast.

Christmas night will be the coldest night of the season in South Florida with temperatures in the 40s and some upper 30s.

CBS4 Chief Meteorologist Craig Setzer says protect sensitive tropical plants and watch for falling iguanas from the trees by morning.

The National Weather Service also tweeted about iguanas, possibly dropping out of trees.

Iguanas can't handle cold weather because they are cold blooded, so when the temperature drops below about 45 degrees their bodies go dormant. They appear to be dead, but they are not. They remain breathing with critical body functions still operating.

This phenomenon, mixed with the species' tendency to sleep in trees, can create quite the surprise for someone in a car or walking under a tree, and since some iguanas are large -- adult males can reach 5 feet in length, and weigh up to 20 pounds -- this can be dangerous to passersby.

The danger for the iguana comes when temperatures remain in the 40s for periods over eight hours. The invasive species is then at risk of death, especially the smaller ones.

According to Zoo Miami Communications Director Ron Magill, it depends on the size of the iguana. He says the larger the iguana, the more cold it can tolerate for longer periods.

He also commented that many iguanas in South Florida have adapted to digging deep burrows, so they are insulated from the cold. Iguanas also tend to live close to large bodies of water, which can be warmer than the air temperatures, so it can help them survive short cold snaps.

(©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)

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