WeatherTalk: Falling iguanas are a Florida problem

Iguanas are an invasive species.

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FARGO — An interesting news item this week has been the story of iguanas falling from trees in Florida during recent cold weather. One wonders why a cold-blooded animal would have evolved in a place where periodic cold weather would cause it to pass out and fall. Actually, the green iguana did not evolve in south Florida. It is a fruit- and flower-eating lizard native to South America but has relocated to south Florida and southern Texas on ships carrying fruit as well as through being released into the wild by pet owners.

Iguanas are now considered an invasive species because they have few natural predators and, despite not liking cold weather, have exploded in population. Iguanas crowd out other native species and can be quite disruptive, particularly in suburban areas where they devastate flower and vegetable gardens. On a side note, the cold weather is rarely fatal for the iguanas. They typically revive once the warm Florida sun finds them.

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John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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