Florida’s Brutally Cold Temperatures Hurting State Wildlife

Green Iguana

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It appears Florida’s freezing temperatures are harming more than just the vegetation; it’s also hurting the wildlife. Iguanas have been falling off their perches in trees with temperatures dropping under 40 degrees Fahrenheit in South Florida.

According to scientists, the temperatures are low enough to paralyze the green iguanas which are common for the area. While one local reporter suggested moving the animals to the sun so they could thaw, wildlife officials are advising against it.

Kristen Sommers oversees the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s non-native and wildlife program. She said residents who mean well might end up getting bit once the animals warm up. She said residents don’t need to assume the animals have died.

The creatures, which are native to South and Central America, will become sluggish when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperatures go even lower, they freeze. Sommers said the temperature is too cold for them to keep moving.

And, it’s not just the iguanas having problems.

Sea turtles are also prone to stiffening up when temperatures drop. Biologists with the wildlife commission have been rescuing sea turtles they have found near shore or in the water. However, there’s no move to do the same for the green iguanas.

Green iguanas are regarded as an invasive species that can dig burrows under structures (undermining them) and eating landscape. They grow up to five feet long, with their droppings being a possible salmonella bacteria source.

The commission has been holding workshops to help property holders manage or trap the animals. Sommers said with the cold snap, they may be easier to trap. She said even though the cold snap gives them this chance, it may not last long enough to be a big difference.

A two-week-long cold snap where temperatures were below 40 in 2010 killed many types of wildlife such as the iguana and Burmese pythons. However, both populations have rebounded since that time.

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Posted by on Jan 6 2018. Filed under Featured, New. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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