Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm not an iguana whisperer

Why? Because he won't listen. Since about end of May this year he became very aggressive again, to the point that I couldn't walk past his vivarium without him going ballistic. By that I mean he would run to the other side of the vivarium in order to attack me. He got extremely territorial and watched my every move. Iguanas in mating season aren't relaxed, they are constantly on alert, even when they doze. At least mine is. He will lay still for a little while, but as soon as I move, he'll jump up, trying to get me.

He's developed a beautiful orange mixed with turquoise (the picture doesn't do him justice), unfortuately, though, I can't get a good shot of him, since he won't sit still.
In addition to being rather aggressive, he only eats very little, would even deny his favourite food. He lost quite a bit of weight, but there's not much I can do apart from offering , he'll take a nibble or two, then rejects it. I first thought pain might be the reason since his nose and snout are rather battered, the result of constant jumping against the glass. But even with painkillers, he's not eating. I've tried to cover the glass with bubble wrap, with cardboard or newspapers, but he has ripped everything down. Now I've covered it with an old sheet. Because I was worried about his snout injury, I've been to the vet twice, had to give him painkillers orally, and antibiotics as injections as well as tablets. Funny enough that he acts 'all right' at the vet, exploring the new surrounding, but craned his neck when they examined him, then head-bobbed at me, who stood in the back. Cheeky bugger!

Snout injuries are rather difficult to treat, especially in mating season, since there's no chance of calming him down. Depending on what I'm wearing, I can sort of go near him, he will still try to bite me, but at least I can grab him; or when I wear a towel wrapped aound my head. (Very weird animal.). I try to wipe his lower jaw with saline (sea salt 1:1 water), this should help to desinfect and dry out the wound. Best way of doing it is when he sleeps. First off, because he's lying still all night and second, they are rather deep sleepers. He'll half-wake, head bob at me, but falls asleep immediately when I'm done.

I quickly managed to take those pictures when I opened the vivarium a bit and he tried to escape. The scales have come off, it bled when he bumped his nose repeatedly and the scab came off the next time. Looks like it's healing now, but it will take a lot of time. As you can see his nose is badly swollen, also because of the bumping into the glass (even with the covers). Mating season is a very difficult time and the farther up north you are from their country of origin, the longer it lasts. Remember, my big boy started end of May, it's almost end of August and I guess it will last another month. I've discussed options with the vet for next year, which means, he'll get an implant, which should avoid him going into mating season, since he's not bumping his nose and is a bit friendlier in general, though he's never tame and I always have to be on guard around him, at least he doesn't hurt himself.

If it works, I'll probably consider neutering since breeding is not an option as long as there are so many adult iguanas in rescue centers, abandoned because they grew or became difficult like my big boy. Many people who don't know anything about iguanas suggested to get him a female. First off, I wouldn't have the space for more iguanas, plus, an alpha male like him would probably mate one female until she dies of exhaustion. Many owners have to separate their iguanas during mating season for that very reason. I would need at least two or three females for him. Getting a female just for the purpose of mating like you do with horses would be rather dangerous, he would most probably just bite or even kill her. The stress for a female in mating season is rather high, even when they are used to each other, Iguanas a brutal, they rape their females.

To the right you see a picture of my arm shortly after I handled him. It's not only the claws, but also his skin. It's basically tiny scales and if you stroke them in the wrong direction, you can get really bad abrasions. I always look like a failed suicide, but nothing Bepanthen wouldn't be able to fix. Better than the bites that brought me to A&E. I've also lost count on how many times I've pricked myself on his spikes on his tail, they are sharp as needles. I could use gloves, but that's not recommened if you don't have a tame animal since you can't grab them properly. I've tried, but the risk of him turning around quickly, getting out of my grasp and launch at me was a bit too high, so I'd rather put up with the scratches.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to only point out the negatives here, but six months of heavy difficulties is something you have to consider when thinking about getting an iguana and it doesn't matter if you get a baby iguana or not. My big boy was tame until he got to that age. He changed from one day to another.

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