Manatees to Pythons: A Rough Weekend For Local Wildlife

Baby, it's cold outside.
Baby, it's cold outside.

Iguanas falling from the sky.

Pythons slithering from the swamps and into suburban yards in search of warmth.

It would make a great horror movie if it weren't true life. It's been so frigid in South Florida this week that 250 sea turtles in cold shock have already been picked up in Broward County, and two freezing manatees were rescued in Stuart on Thursday, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife officials. As if avoiding boaters weren't enough, manatees get cold stress syndrome in water temps under 68 degrees, so they're heading in droves for the warmer waters near power plants -- like the one near the Florida Power and Light plant in Riviera Beach.

Nobody's shedding any tears over iguanas losing their grip and plummeting from trees, though. The cold snap is providing the easiest disposal method yet.

Burmese pythons in the keys and elsewhere are taking up residence in neighborhood yards and garages, or sunbathing in other open areas they don't normally frequent. The pythons are usually nocturnal hunters and don't get around much during the day -- but there's some evidence that colder temperatures are driving the reptiles south, where they haven't had a significant presence so far.

Florida Fish and Wildlife released a reminder this week to licensed hunters that it's still legal to hunt the pythons and other nuisance reptiles -- the fact that the cold blooded snakes have slowed down significantly should make picking them off a lot easier.

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