What to do if a frozen iguana falls from your tree

Credit: Frank Cerabino

(WFLA) – A bizarre weather phenomenon has many Floridians fearing we’ve entered the end of times. Frozen iguanas are falling from the trees. They’re not dead, but they may thaw out and attack you.

So what should you do if you come upon a frozen iguana?

Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill answered that question in a segment that recently aired on NPR.

“Generally speaking, the larger the iguana, the more it survives without showing any type of lasting effects. 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 said.

Magill says if you encounter frozen iguana, you should treat it as though it could be alive and dangerous. Bottom line: don’t touch them.

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

Magill shared a scary yet somewhat comical story about what could go wrong if you mess with these iguanas:

And in Central America, iguana is a delicacy. It’s something – they’re actually farmed for food. So this gentleman just thought, wow, I just have a bunch of protein here. He’s on Key Biscayne. He’s sort of picking up all these iguanas that appear to be dead on the road that had fallen out of trees. They turned gray and were not moving at all and very cold to the touch. And he put them into his vehicle. He’s loading them up like he was stocking up for a big barbecue. When they went back into the vehicle, the vehicle warmed up, and those iguanas started coming back to life. And all of a sudden, they started getting up and running around in the car, and it caused an accident.”

Magill suggests we all “let nature run its course,” given that iguanas are “invasive pests” who compete with native species.

“If they recover, they recover. If they do not, they do not,” he said. “The bottom line is they don’t belong in this environment. They’re doing damage to this environment. And maybe that’s Mother Nature’s way of helping defend those populations to help the environment recover.”

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