Raining cats and dogs? Try, ‘It’s snowing iguanas’

Point of No Return

As a kid, I kind of struggled with the general concept of non-literal expressions.

You know — someone would opine that it was “raining cats and dogs” outside, and I would immediately rush to the nearest window to catch a glimpse of beagles and tabby cats descending from above and landing gracefully on the sidewalk. I could feel a rush of adrenaline bursting through my every cell as I scampered to the window to witness what would truly be the greatest thing to ever happen in my then-short lifetime, only to be disappointed when all I saw outside was puddles — and not poodles.

I know. I’m sorry. I feel horrible about the joke, if that helps at all. I mean, I wish I could chalk it up as a “dad joke,” but I’ve been telling these garbage jokes my entire life and...

But I digress.

Regardless, I was pretty easily fooled those days, because I couldn’t quite grasp the nuance of metaphors, similes and general comparisons. I searched high and low for a happy clam, wondered how people would be head over heels without ending up in an emergency room and never understood why a person would ever show up to a party with bells on, thus I studiously looked for bell-wearing people all the time.

So, you’ll forgive me when I saw a warning the other day that called for falling iguanas in Florida and wasn’t initially impressed.

“Must be another goofy Florida thing,” I thought to myself, as I mentally scooted past that link and went on to click a story about how to make one’s hair appear more full by hanging upside down and chewing on bamboo shoots. I mean, you never know, right?

Then I saw someone share something on Twitter from the National Weather Service in Miami that looked pretty official. I took a closer look at the tweet:

“This isn’t something we usually forecast, but don’t be surprised if you see Iguanas falling from the trees tonight as lows drop into the 30s and 40s. Brrr! #flwx #miami”

Huh.

I could feel my grip tighten on my Google/fantasy-football/camera device (some call it a “phone”) as excitement coursed through my veins. Wait... it’s raining iguanas? For real? It’s finally happening?

The hardened shell I had grown around myself to protect from disappointment began to crumble to the earth, and I felt that unbridled joy that only a child with unrealistic expectations could enjoy and I just had to read more.

A story I came across on CNN summed it up as such: “The concern for people in South Florida is that these iguanas often sleep in trees, so when their bodies go dormant, they appear to fall from the sky onto streets, cars, pools, or even people walking around. And since iguanas are large — adult males can reach 5 feet in length, and weigh up to 20 pounds — this can be dangerous if one lands on top of you.”

The science behind it, from what I have read, is that iguanas are naturally cold-blooded, so they tend to get lethargic once the temperatures drop to below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The CNN piece said that once it drops below 45, the iguanas go into a completely dormant state, which can make them fall out of their safe spots in trees and basically land wherever gravity allows.

So, yeah, it could basically rain iguanas.

To me, this is more than cool, particularly after I read that this stage of dormancy is a protective state that can protect them until the temperature goes back over 50 degrees. So, yay!

But then I saw that if it stayed in the 40s for more than eight hours, many of the iguanas could die — particularly smaller ones. So, boo!

Look, “The Lion King” made me sad. “Bambi” left me in the fetal position. I’m not a fan of creatures of any size or shape being harmed, and I certainly don’t wish any ill travels for iguanas. I mean, no iguana has ever cheated me in cards or stolen from my family’s dinner table, so I certainly don’t have any beef with them.

And while the thought of it raining iguanas — or, maybe “snowing iguanas” is more appropriate, considering the weather — is more than just a little bit exciting, the thought of them dying in the elements is not quite as cool to me.

But Ron Magill, the communications director for Zoo Miami, said that iguanas are considered invasive species, so many in southern Florida are looking forward to the elements thinning the proverbial herd.

“I do know that there are several iguana hunters that are looking forward to this upcoming cold front, as it will certainly facilitate them removing these invasive reptiles from the South Florida environment as they will not be able to run away,” he told CNN.

Yeah, I’m not quite ready to celebrate their impending demise, but I do like the idea of it snowing iguanas.