Recently, residents in Florida have seen a phenomenon that most travelers on a WorldStrides science program to Florida will never experience. After record cold in South Florida this winter, news agencies as far away as the United Kingdom are reporting the raining of “kamikaze” iguanas. That’s right – reptiles seemingly ending it all with a long descent from the sky.
We’ll need a little science to help us understand this better. According to biologists, iguanas literally stop in their tracks when temperatures fall below 40°F, entering a frozen hibernation. As an invasive species, it doesn’t occur to the tropical iguana to burrow or build protection from the cold. In addition, iguanas do not produce their own body heat by shivering. It’s common for iguanas that encounter such elements, if they happen to be resting in trees, to lose their grip and plummet to the ground, only to eventually revive and walk away when temperatures increase and body heat has been restored.
So does this make iguanas enduring an unseasonably cold winter kamikazes or zombies? The answer is “no,” but they sure have given Florida residents a lot to talk about!
If you’re headed to Florida this spring on a WorldStrides science program, ask your Course Leader if they’ve seen the “kamikaze” iguanas or if they can share any interesting stories about this peculiar sight.