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Posted by PHFaust on April 10, 2003 at 23:51:15:
In Reply to: IGNORE OTHER POST....READ THIS ONE!!! Oops, sorry!!!!!!!!!!! posted by IGUANA JOE on April 10, 2003 at 15:15:11:
WOO HOO I am actually awake and alert for this discussion.
A few of the posters here have met my rent-a-date iguana Oscar. He is a HUGE orange male that has been in my friends home for 4 almost 5 years now. He is as you can see from the pic a sexy boy. He goes to shows where there are 5000 people passing him and stays stationary on a pedestal for 6-8 hours a day. He goes to pet stores and humane societies. He is pretty, HUGE and very very sweet. When I am talking about iguanas to people and standing there with this huge beast, I make it a point to show people my basic handling scratches. I explain to them that EVERY iguana owner who doesnt wear stuff like gloves or sweatshirts will have these. I also show them pics of bites. I explain that everything can and will bite if need be. I explain that Iguanas like Oscar are not really the norm. I explain that an Iguana is a wild animal that will get at least 5 feet when full grown and can go 20 lbs. I explain and give free handouts on basic care info. I have a one page sheet of the MK diet that I have used for years. I have a document that every herper seems to adore that illistrates the low end and high end of initial iguana ownership. It is a basic shopping list of NEEDS. After going thru all of this, I am always asked the same question.
"Do you think Iguanas make a good pet"
My stock answer is as follows.
For children - No. (at this I usually point out the size difference between the child who wants the pet and the actual adult size of the pet) I encourage people to hang out and wait for the time when us Iguana Squad folks who are all adults and a few of us have children go up on stage. I ask people to watch how we have a hard time at times handling these full grown guys. (granted handling a high strung iguana who has been on display and poked at for two days on a stage with other iguanas mostly adult males is enough to tweak the tamest of igs to get a bit testy) I also explain that "an Iguana is not a few year investment of time. An iguana is a 20 year relationship with an animal that is not domesticated, may become agressive for 3 months out of the year, has very specialized diet, heating and lighting requirements, and needs a LOT of room. Any parent considering to get their child an iguana needs to realize that they in fact are also getting the iguana."
Then I go on to say "For me an Iguana is a good pet. I am willing to work with all the special needs. I get great enjoyment out of interacting with my reptiles and truly enjoy having them in my home. These are not your beginner reptile pet. They are sold as beginners while they really are an advanced pet. There is no guarantee that the sweet and tame baby iguana that you get is going to remain that way when it is sexually mature. Every pet is a decent amount of work. An Iguana is a lot of work." At this time I usually use a few books, the one that I killed my first iguana following and Hatfields book, putting them both on their sides, and stating "With this book, I killed my first iguana. It was sold as the be all end all of books. Then I learned a bit more and I got this book and as you can see the amount if info here is WAY more detailed, not to mention that (first book that is 30 pages long) this book is 20 years old and still sold in stores today."
When I state that Oscar is my rent-a-date I am almost always asked why one of my iguanas is not with me. And I reply "My large female iguana is basically to mean for me to handle. She is not tame in the least, which granted may be related to her prior care in her first 3 homes, however she is just plain mean."
And at the end of all this I send people off to find the bearded dragons and the leopard geckos with hopes of a smaller more managable reptile pet.
NOW, Do I think that some of the warm and fuzzy stories are a bad thing when we look at education. Yes and No. The warm and fuzzy stories help explain to people who keep 'cuddly pets' (altho I cant think of any pet that like to cuddle more than a python ;}) exactly WHY we would keep an animal like this 'beast'. But as with anything in life, you need to have good with bad, and a good educator will share both spectrums. People need to know what CAN happen if one day their iguana turns. What can cause it, what can be done. Stuff like egging and breeding season agression is often skipped. I remember back before the internet really blossomed and I placed a frantic call to our very own Melissa wanting to know why these rocks kept showing up in my iguanas cage. Well DUH they were eggs, but I didnt have internet access and none of the books i owned told me that with out sex iguanas can and will lay them!
I wouldnt say that I necessarily discourage people outright. I just slap them in the face with reality. I refer them to places like here, MKs site, Hatfields book. I tell them to read those things FIRST before getting an iguana. Then make sure you have 20 years to spare and enjoy.
Did I go in enough circles for you yet? :)