Iguanas are one of South Florida’s biggest nuisances, this side of bad drivers anyway. So much so that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission issued its first-ever recommendation to humanely kill iguanas. Months later and countless iguana encounters, I've yet to be able to bring myself to attempt to whack a lizard. Now, we have a near record-setting cold front working its way to South Florida, I am rooting that weather might do the trick. If you were here in 2010, the last time we had widespread freezing temperatures, you’ll recall that many iguanas died off. More recently, in January of 2018, you may remember iguanas falling from trees, but they often didn’t die. We’re not going to see freezing temps this time around, but will it be cold enough to do the trick?
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, once the temperature dips below 50 the iguanas will enter a sluggish state that will only exacerbate as the temperature drops. But does it kill them? It can but generally doesn’t in South Florida. Only freezing temperatures will kill iguanas with certainty. Because they can’t warm themselves, the water in their cells literally freezes and bursts their cells. With temperatures below 50 but above freezing, it could kill them but likely only if the temperatures stay down long enough or if they fall from a tree hard enough. Iguanas become lethargic with temperatures below 50, leading to the occasional falling iguana. They could also die from dehydration if they stayed in that state long enough. Will it happen? Probably not.
According to the FFWC, iguana populations stop around St. Lucie County. The lowest low in St. Lucie County is expected to be around 40. That’s not enough to do the trick unless the temperature stays down there for around a week, but it won’t. Falling iguanas are possible in parts of Florida but a cold snap that could naturally remove large numbers of iguanas isn’t in the offing this time.
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