Iguanas are warm weather creatures who suffer from bouts of freezing or death when temperatures dip outside of their comfort zone. At what temperatures do iguanas die?
Have you heard of iguanas falling out of trees? Find out why this happens below.
This article is dedicated to discovering at what temperatures do iguanas die.
At What Temperature Do Iguanas Die?
Here are some estimates based on experience and research:
Sluggish and lethargic: Below 50°F (10°C)
Become stiff or Freeze: Between 30 to 40°F (0 to 5°C)
Death: Under 30°F (Under 0°C)
How Cold Can Iguanas Survive?
Many iguanas could die when the temperatures dip below 50°F and stay that way.
A sudden drop in temperatures at night only may cause an iguana to temporarily become stiff and look frozen. This is the case with many wild iguanas falling out of trees in Florida during cold winter nights.
What Temperature Is Too Cold for Iguanas?
Iguanas are not meant to survive in sustained temperatures that dip below 40°F. We do not recommend keeping them housed anywhere with temperatures that remain consistently under 50°F.
You may notice the following symptoms when an iguana is cold:
- Slowing down
- Lack of appetite
- Looking frozen
- Pale in appearance
- Stressed or frightened
An iguana could actually freeze and slip into a comatose state when temperatures do not warm up or they do not recover.
Why Do Iguanas Fall Out of Trees?
Iguanas have been mentioned in the news a few times over when they are spotted falling out of trees. These rare occurrences have gained notoriety in Florida which is known to be warm throughout the year.
Sudden drops in temperature at night may cause the defense mechanism of iguanas to freeze up. Iguana are ectothermic and cannot regulate their own temperature.
They can slow down their heart rate up to 50% and remain stiff to conserve energy. Prolonged periods of remaining this way can lead to their death.
A stiff or frozen iguana will lose grip on a tree branch and easily fall down. Many survive, but some succumb to injuries or death from the cold.
How Do Iguanas Keep Warm?
Iguanas are ectothermic and need to conserve their energy to stay alive. They cannot regulate their body temperature and rely on the warm weather and sunshine for natural heat. This process is also referred to as homeostasis.
There are three examples of homeostasis and the first one applies to iguanas in the cold:
- Body temperature regulation
- Blood pressure regulation
- Blood sugar regulation
Iguanas in the wild are not social, but sometimes they congregate closer together to keep warm.
Overall, these solitary creatures stay on tree tops near foliage and lose grip when their bodies shut down in colder weather typically under 50°F.
Iguanas rely on us to create basking areas with heat lamps or regulating temperatures 60°F or higher. They are much more comfortable around 80°F or above.
Is A Frozen Iguana Dead?
No. An iguana could freeze up or even fall into a coma. This doesn’t mean they are dead. Iguanas stiffen up when they cannot regulate their body temperature.
They can regain mobility if the weather warms up. These iguanas are usually still conscious and aware. Some are frightened and use this defense mechanism against cold temperatures to survive.
During this time, you may wish to help a wild iguana that looks frozen and may have fallen out of a tree.
Doing so comes with the risk of these iguanas snapping out of the comatose state and bite you as another defense mechanism against possible threats or predators trying to attack or eat them in their vulnerable state.
Can Iguanas Survive Cold Weather?
Yes. Iguanas can enter a diapause state and use their body fat to survive when the weather gets cold. Their heart rate slows down and they cannot rely on homeostasis to regulate body temperature in absence of natural heat.
- stiffen up
- fall into a coma
- halt their body movements and functions
- slow down their heart rate
- stop their heart from beating
If the temperature continues to remain under 40-50°F for a prolonged period of time, this iguana could die. The first response is to become immobile and wait out the cold snap.
This must improve or death will be around the corner if they cannot warm up.
Do Iguanas Freeze and Come Back to Life?
It is unknown whether or not you are actually seeing a frozen iguana or one that is immobile and stiff. They can enter diapause and become stiff when they cannot warm up any longer due to external temperatures falling outside of their comfort range.
Anywhere under 60 degrees Fahrenheit may cause this. Entering a frozen state or falling into a coma requires an iguana to thaw or warm up.
This cold-blooded creature depends on us in captivity to keep them warm. We can help an iguana survive by providing heat lamps, a warm blanket or warm water.
An iguana can lash out during this time as they are frightened, stressed and do not know if you are trying to help or taking advantage of a weakened target.
Falling Iguana Warning
There are warnings across Florida by the National Weather Service at times when the weather drops below normal patterns. If the cold is sustained, iguanas may fall off trees.
When people find these reptiles on the ground, they must proceed with caution. What may look like a dead iguanas is actually not.
They could be immobilized temporarily as a defense mechanism against the cold weather and will snap out of it when the cold snap wears off.
Other lizards may also be found falling off trees at this time in tropical climates that receive abnormal weather patterns and cold snaps.
Iguanas are warm weather reptiles that depend on their caregivers to regulate the temperature in and around their enclosures.
Keep the temperature above 60 degrees Fahrenheit at all times to avoid a stiff or possibly frozen iguana.
During this time avoid any toxic foods that we list in full detail here.
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