Monday, January 11, 2010

Dodging Frozen Iquanas

One of the peculiar and unwelcome species to populate South Florida is the green iguana. A natural species in South America, the green iguana was introduced to South Florida by another unwelcome species living in our tropical environment: the stupid pet owner (SPO). SPOs are that subspecies of homo sapien that buys an exotic pet, keeps it for a while, gets tired of it and ultimately releases said exotic pet into the great outdoors. Usually, the SPO gets tired of the exotic pet at the point in time it got too big to sit on the SPO's shoulder as he cruises the beachfront. Having no natural enemy, the exotic pet species grows rapidly out of control resulting in a nuisance population that knocks our ecosystem out of kilter. This is how we have an out of control population of Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park.

Living on the water in Fort Lauderdale, I've got a personal peeve with stupid pet owners. The green iguana population was introduced to South Florida in the mid-90s and has been out of control for years. These exotic lizards that range from six inches to up to five feet. Some people love seeing these exotic creatures in their yards, but most South Floridians, my wife and Florida wildlife officials included, wish they were gone from our environment. They eat your yard vegetation to death, poop all over your dock, are not particularly afraid of humans, and they bite. You can chase them away, but only temporarily. They simply move to another yard and come back later.

The recent cold snap has created an interesting phenomena: frozen iguanas dropping out of trees. Being warm blooded reptiles, when the temperatures drop into the 40s, these creatures go into a type of hibernation. All body functions but the heart switch off and blood flow is cut to a minimum. They lose their grip on branches of the trees they hang out in and fall to the ground.

When I heard it was going to be in the 40s and dip into the 30s this weekend, I decided to sacrifice my Friday evening and knocked out my last 20 mile run before the Miami Marathon on Friday night. It was the day before my birthday, so it was also the last long run for my 50th year. Dang, I'm getting old!

In any event, Saturday's weather was miserable. Cold, wet rain the entire day. I took the family out for breakfast, went for a session with my trainer, took down the Christmas decorations, then settled down for an evening of playoff football. Not a huge celebration for my birthday, but a nice day given it was wet and cold outside.

Sunday, the temperatures dipped well into the low 30s. Wife Salome went running on Sunday at 1 PM when the temperatures hit the upper 40s. There were some pretty strong winds, but she was well dressed. With the temperatures in the 40s, the iguana's went into their temperature induced coma. As she ran long A1a, she hears a plop. Sure enough, an iguana fell out of a tree. Apparently, this has been happening all over South Florida for the past week. So, while I complained about the cold in my last post (my feet are still cold), there is some good coming from this unusually long cold snap. You just have to be careful where you run.

Living in South Florida, even the iguana falls have a bizarreness to them. See, it is legal to kill iguanas in Florida, but only if it is done humanely. Thus, some people looking to trap iguanas are out collecting them in their dormant state. One guy was collecting them off the street and throwing them into the back of his station wagon. Unfortunately, the guy didn't think through that his car was warmer than the outdoors. As he's driving down the street, these nasty tempered creatures start to come around and start crawling on his back. The driver narrowly avoided wrecking his car. I used to think that Carl Hiassen was a gifted writer, weaving absurd nature twists into his mystery novels. I now realize he's just taking notes.


  1. I've heard of "Pennies from Heaven" and "Raindrops keep fallin on my head" but iguana's dropping out of palm trees, now that is truly something Hiassen needs to write about.

  2. Ugh. I HATE SPO's big time. And I feel your pain. That is crazy about the guy who put them in the back of his car. Awesome.

    I just hope it's nice and cool for the ING! Whoohoo! Yeah SOBE!