Florida residents are selling iguana meat on Facebook Marketplace after the frozen reptiles have started falling from trees due to the harsh drop in temperatures.
Several ads selling skinned, butchered – and headless – iguanas, often nicknamed ‘chicken of the trees’, started springing up online overnight in Miami, Doral and Homestead.
One post advertises freshly prepped garrobo, a name often used in Latin America for iguana, for a steal at $1. The same seller also offers the skin-on variety for chefs who want a more hands-on approach with their food.
Others, however, were selling frozen iguana meat several days before the cold weather kicked in, suggesting this is far from a seasonal specialty for some.
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Residents of Florida have started selling iguana meat on Facebook Marketplace (above), just hours after the weather service issued warnings of frozen reptiles falling from trees due to the harsh drop in temperatures across the state
Several ads selling skinned, butchered – and headless – iguanas, often nicknamed ‘chicken of the trees’, started springing up online overnight in Miami, Doral and Homestead. This post advertises freshly prepped garrobo, a name often used in Latin America for iguana, for a steal at $1
Because iguanas are cold-blooded they slow down or became immobile when temperatures dropped below 45F
The iguanas appear to be falling from the sky, onto streets, cars, pools, or even people walking around
Bemused residents took to social media to poke fun at the craze.
‘You know it’s cold when Facebook Marketplace got garrobo meat for sale #BecauseMiami #ChickenOfTheTrees,’ one person tweeted.
The supply of the unusual meal choice comes just hours after states across the Southern and Eastern United States were told to brace themselves for freezing temperatures with icy winds, frost, snow and iguanas falling from trees.
The unusual reptilian addition to the usual list of wintry weather elements was issued in Miami, southern Florida – home to a booming iguana population.
‘Excellent to taste’: Frank Mazzotti, professor of wildlife ecology at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie, Florida, said the meat is delicious. The institute actually recommends some tasty recipes for iguana, including one for iguana tacos
The National Weather Service in Miami issued its forecast for iguanas on Twitter. ‘Don’t be surprised if you see iguanas falling from the trees tonight,’ it tweeted on Tuesday evening.
The weather forecaster said because iguanas were cold-blooded they slowed down, or became immobile when temperatures dropped below 45F.
As a result the iguanas appear to fall from the sky, onto streets, cars, pools, or even people walking around.
NWS Miami issued the unusual weather warning on Tuesday evening as temperatures plunged to rare lows of below 50F in the South Florida city
This poses a risk to people and property as iguanas are not small creatures. The adult male can grow up to 5 feet in length and weigh up to 20 pounds.
But, for some, the risk of falling lizards is nothing more than an opportunity for a tasty dinner.
In fact, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences offers a number of recipes for iguana, including one for iguana tacos.
‘For people who aren’t accustomed to cooking iguana, it is suggested that an easier route may be to make iguana tacos or burritos,’ it says, according to the Miami Herald.
Frank Mazzotti, professor of wildlife ecology at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie, Florida, said the meat is delicious.
‘They are excellent to taste, and they are a great source of food,’ he said.
‘There is a reason why these invasive iguanas are hunted in their native countries as food to the point where they are considered endangered species.’
Iguanas are hunted as food in Central and South America and parts of the Caribbean.
The UF/IFAS recommends less experienced foodies get their meat from a reputable processor and warns that the meat should be treated like chicken and cooked through to at least 165 degrees because of the risk of salmonella.
The reptilian creature, which is native to parts of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, generally does not handle cold very well.
They tend to get sluggish and lethargic in temperatures below 50F and go into a dormant or stunned state below 45F.
This gives the appearance the reptile is dead. However, as communications director Ron Magill for the Miami Zoo told CNN it is the body’s way of protecting the iguanas till temperatures are warmer.
‘The temperature threshold for when iguanas begin to go into a dormant state depends greatly on the size of the iguana,’ explains Ron Magill, communications director for Zoo Miami. ‘Generally speaking, the larger the iguana, the more cold it can tolerate for longer periods.’
He said if temperatures remain in the 40s for an extended period of time a large number of iguanas will die, in particular the smaller ones.
However, Magill said because it was an invasive species not all would mourn the loss of a number of the reptiles.
‘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.’
Dropping like… lizards! A baby iguana lies in the grass after ‘falling from the sky’ in Florida on Wednesday after temperatures dropped overnight
Another frozen stunned iguana lies in a park in West Palm Beach in Florida
Forecasters say temperatures in parts of the country, including South Florida, Louisiana, the Carolinas and Georgia, are averaging 10 to 15 degrees below normal.
Freeze and hard freeze warnings are in effect across Florida and Georgia for most of the morning.
Meanwhile, AccuWeather forecasters, expect a new winter storm to hit the central United States to the Northeast, bringing snow and ice for a time this week.
‘The storm is destined to bring wintry precipitation and travel problems over a broad swath, even though Arctic air in place to start this week will grow stale and trend milder over time,’ it predicted.
And as we head into February it expected the wet weather would continue in the northwestern parts of the United States, as storms from the Pacific make landfall.
‘Any breaks of sunshine will be in short supply,’ the forecasters said.