What to Do If You Find a Frozen Iguana

Witht he surprisingly cold temperatures in Florida, frozen iguanas have been seen falling from trees. While many assume they might be dead, that is not the case.

Ron Magill of Zoo Miami told National Public Radio Friday that the larger iguanas could survive freezing and come back to life, advising residents and community members not to touch or collect them as they could be alive and attack once thawed.

"Generally speaking, the larger the iguana, the more it survives without showing any type of lasting effects," Magill explained. "The smaller ones, however - you know, when you get the 2-footers and smaller, those animals many times do not recover. And they end up dying from that type of cold."

Magill also told a story about a man in Key Biscayne who gathered up frozen iguanas to cook them for food in 2010. Unfortunately, the iguanas came back to life in his truck after warmed up.

"And all of a sudden, they started getting up and running around in the car, and it caused an accident," Magill said.

"Incapacitated as you think, they can give you a serious bite. They can give you a serious scratch, a serious whip with their tail. They can present that kind of physical injury to you," Magill continued.

Frozen iguanas falling from trees is not a new phenomenon in Florida. Back in December 2010, when South Florida saw temperatures in the low 30s, iguanas began falling and dying off. According to the Palm Beach Sentinel, the 2010 temperatures saw a substantial number of the Burmese python population in the Everglades died.

By 2013, the iguana population rebounded, which wasn't actually good news, the Sun Sentinel reported at the time.

The iguanas aren't native to Florida, and came to South Florida from southern Mexico and Central America. They have been spreading throughout South Florida counties since 1966.

Magill told NPR that the freezing temperatures might be Mother Nature's way of eliminating a non-native animal from an environment it doesn't belong in.


"The bottom line is they don't belong in this environment. They're doing damage to this environment," Magill said. "And maybe that's Mother Nature's way of helping defend those populations to help the environment recover."