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As temperatures fall across South Florida, so do frozen iguanas from trees

Cold-stunned iguanas fall from Florida trees
Cold temperatures in South Florida cause iguanas to pass out and fall from trees 00:57

As temperatures fell across South Florida this weekend, so did the iguanas. CBS Miami reports the cold front that dropped temperatures into the 30s and 40s led to cold-stunned iguanas dropping out of trees. 

The invasive species can't handle cold temperatures very well. In general, iguanas begin to get sluggish or lethargic once the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit the iguanas go into a dormant or cold-stunned state. They appear to be dead, but they are not. They remain breathing with critical body functions still operating.

But not all iguanas respond the same.

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

Adult male iguanas can reach 5 feet in length, and weigh up to 20 pounds so you don't want one of these guys, sleeping in a tree, to fall on your head or your car.

Winter Weather Florida
This image from video provided by Stacy Lopiano shows an iguana lying in her yard in Hollywood, Fla., on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022.  Stacy Lopiano / AP

An iguana goes into this cold-stunned state as a way of protecting itself until the temperature warms back up above 50 degrees.

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.

Many iguanas in South Florida have adapted to going deep into burrows where they stay insulated from the cold. They tend to also live close to large bodies of water, which tend to be warmer than the air temperatures, which help them survive short cold snaps.

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