Last week, ahead of a forecast of particularly cold temperatures in southern Florida, the Miami Office of the National Weather Service issued a statement that warned of falling iguanas. This quickly caught the attention of the social media world. No doubt, many non-Floridians thought this was a joke or fake, but falling iguanas are a real thing.

Bright green and orange and weighing ten to 20 pounds, iguanas are an invasive species not native to Florida. Descended from pet store iguanas that had been set free, and largely without predators, iguanas have thrived in Florida and become a major pest, burrowing under houses and devouring expensive tropical garden plants. They also are entirely tropical and do not handle well the occasional intrusion of not-so-tropical air Florida gets every few years. Animals native to Florida burrow underground or take to water to stay warm, but iguanas have not learned this trick. If chilly weather finds them in trees, they tend to go limp and fall.

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