Stories of Abuse orginally featured on

Submitted by: (NIAD Volunteer)

Eve was a sweet female ig with severe metabolic bone disease that someone had left at our SPCA. The vet warned me that she would have to be spayed because eggs would never be able to get around her convoluted spine. After two years she began to show symptoms of kidney failure. I'm sorry to say that I was the cause of her final distress. One blustery October day she went out my pet door and disappeared. Eve's picture is on Adam Britton's Web site.

Submitted by: (NIAD Coordinator)

Today my wife and I brought in another neglected iguana, this little guy was living in a halfway house type environment for NA with 9 people living there and the owner on a cross country bike trip and nobody caring for her pet, the iguana had a commercial spot light pointed at the cage from three feet away because of the extreme heat. There was no other light source and I think the iguana hasn't had any UVB for a very long time his diet consisted of carrots and spinach, which can rob calcium from iguanas. This iguana has the worst case of MBD I have ever personally seen. Both his front legs and shoulders were badly deformed along with all the ribs and lower jaw, I will continue to work with him and he will be seen by a vet tomorrow, although I am not sure if he will survive.

Submitted by: (NIAD Volunteer)

I got Phoenix in May 1998. My sister's friend had found him walking along the side of the road. She took the iguana home, and her stepfather sat there and ripped off the iguana's tail. She brang the iguana to our house so we could take care of him until they found another place to live without the stepfather. When they brought the iguana to our house, they had him in a small dog kennel, and were trying to feed him crickets and other animal proteins. Two months later, they came to get Phoenix. They were still living with the man who ripped off Phoenix's tail. We told them we wouldn't give them Phoenix if they were still living with him.

Submitted by: (NIAD Volunteer)

I've been meaning to send you these pix I took of an ig that I was asked to pick up at an emergency vet hospital last Spring. He died 4 hours after I picked him up. When I called the vet hospital and demanded to have the owner reported to Animal Control, the vet assistant said the owner hadn't been able to pay for euthanasia and they took the critter on a "Good Samaritan" basis without paperwork. I didn't believe that for a second, since when I take raptors out to the UC Davis Small Animal Hospital, they insist I fill out a Good Samaritan form even though I'm only the driver for Wildlife Care. The vet was a nice woman who obviously didn't know anything about reptiles. I tried to convince her that this cretin might have other "pets" at home that she is starving, but I had no luck.

Submitted by: (NIAD Coordinator) I visited a local pet store today and was completely enraged with a window display that they had. It was a fairly small enclosure and full of iguanas. There was one large heat stone, three night black lights, one plate of food - it was dry commercial food, and it was dark. The two largest iguanas looked OK. Of course they are able to fight for food and heat, but the others were dying. There was one sweet little baby lying in the very front by the window who was badly suffering from MBD. His shoulders were severely swollen, his body looked flat like he had been run over by a car, and he was so weak he couldn't lift himself off the ground to take two steps - he barely managed to pull himself forward. It made me cry to see him like that and know that I couldn't help him, but I can help put a stop to conditions like that. There is no state coordinator in Arkansas, so after today I have decided this is what I need to do. The other iguanas in the enclosure were covered in wounds from bite marks, broken tails, and signs of MBD. I just don't understand how the storeowners could think that their iguanas are healthy - unless they just aren't checking on them. Hopefully, with others help we can change this.

Submitted (NIAD Coordinator) I used to manage a pet store, and I would be confronted with iguana horror stories and bad iguana owners almost constantly. These include: -the woman who told me that she hoped her son's iguana would just die because she hated it and her son wasn't taking care of it. She also brushed off my offer to get her son's iguana into an adoption program. -a customer who told me that her vet recommended a diet of spinach and 1 tablespoon of chicken every day to correct her iguana's skin condition. -The 9-month-old iguana that someone brought in for the storeowner, who is a subpermitee under a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, to put to sleep. This iguana's owners had tried to care for it, but had been given nothing but incorrect information for almost all of the ig's life. At the age of 9 months, it was stunted, had a severely misshapen jaw, swollen limbs, tremors, extreme malnourishment... and it's spine was so severely deformed that it's back looked as if it had caved in. Once I get the film developed, I can post a picture of this sad creature. -Need I go on? Those were some of the most memorable, but the amount of ignorance, both unintentional and willful, that's out there as concerns iguanas is amazing.

Submitted (NIAD Coordinator) This is not specifically a singular horror story, but there have been countless times when we have taken our 6 ft. iguana (Fisher) to the vet and ran across people with iggy's with broken tails (due to being caught by the tail by the owner), busted ear drums, extreme malnutrition (due to feeding them LETTUCE!) and MBD in some cases. When we bought our first iggy, we read every book made on the care of the green sickens me to see a beautiful iggy reduced to nothing and slowly die to to the ignorance of the owner.

Submitted by: (NIAD Coordinator) I have a friend who bought an iguana because he loves mine so much. He fed it lettuce, and kept it in a 10-gallon tank in his backyard (in Connecticut) with no source of direct heat. The cover was also not secure and it could have easily been attacked by other animals. I went to his house with some real food for the iguana, vitamins, Iguana care books, and a homemade list of do's and don'ts. He never used to believe me over the phone that lettuce wasn't a proper diet. When I put my iguana food (a mixture of collard greens, kale, peas, and stringbeans, with vitamins) in front of his iguana is ran over and devoured the food. My friendís eyes lit up when he saw the iguana eat. He realized He should but the food I suggested and went out and bought some that day. He also bought all the other necessary iguana supplies and moved "Iggy" into the house. Iggy was doing fine as of last time we talked.

Submitted by: (NIAD Coordinator) A friend of mine asked me to give a home to an abused iguana. She said they were not feeding him or cleaning his cage, or any of the necessary things for proper, healthy iguana care.. I told her I would give the iguana a permanent home, vet it, and do my best to save its lffe3. By the time she got to pick up the lizard it was killed by starvation, and physical abuse by its owners. They kept its body around like a sick sort of trophy.. They were so proud of their evil deed, they did not even deny it to the SPCA. They aid they had fun torturing and slowly starving an exotic animal to death. I even had sent food and vitamins with care instructions until she could pick up the animal. In the end they at least get put in jail awhile. . But it makes me mad people can get away with treating exotics and other animals like this.

Submitted (NIAD Coordinator) A pet store took Draiko, my iguana, from an abusive home & sold him to an uninformed, unaware, un-ig-educated home. This was my daughter's home in Sparks, NV. They sold her dry iguana food, a vitamin spray for his skin (?) and some mouth rot medicine. No mention of heat or lights or Ca:P ratios or proper food or anything!! The ONLY piece of advice that came with the iguana was "you have to make sure you remove the toe shed!" That was it. (at least his toenails are in good shape )) My daughter was feeding him cucumbers and broccoli florets, cut so large he couldn't eat them.. He was in a small glass tank, in a dark room, all by his self, he had no lights, no heat, he never saw any uvb, he was weak, he was thin, he was biting and tail whipping anything and everything, he had mouth rot, he has severe MBD, his tail was broken, his toes are all bent and broken, his spikes are 50% gone,....ect... But I adopted him on 8/14/98. Drove him home to Central California. Got on the Internet and found every page possible to help me learn about his care. WOW!! Good info out there if people would just take the time to look for it!! Thanks to all of you who took the time to put all that very valuable info out there for us. I would have been one of those uninformed ig owners had it not been for your devotion and hard work. Draiko is getting better every day, eating like a P-ig and growing like a weed!!! Having experienced the pet store/uninformed, unsuspecting new ig owner thing first(well, second) hand, I feel obligated to do what I can to help these poor innocent creatures. I have become so attached to Draiko that I would be devastated if anything happened to him. I am a single, disabled mother, with a 14-year-old son - If I can somehow find a way to provide this ig with what he needs, then anyone can do it! If they care enough!! Thanks, Kelli & Draiko Exeter, CA

Submitted (NIAD Coordinator) Buddy is an adult male iguana. When I got him, he was starved, his legs had no muscle tone, he could not climb, his tail had been cut off about 10 inches from the base, it was still healing, and he had no name. I already had 6 iguanas but I could not let him where he was. It was in November, very cold out and the person who had him carried him around in a much too small pet carrier, outside, without any covering at all! It is one year later. Buddy resides in the den, watches TV during the day, and has his own window to look out of. He will allow some petting and occasionally will let me hold him. Sometimes I pick him up and carry him outside to the cage. He eats like there is no tomorrow. At times, I think he forgets where he is, and will charge me when I try to take his dish to fix his food. He thinks I am going to starve/tease him, I guess. He has never bitten me. On weekends, I will open the door to the den and, if he is in the mood, he will come out and cruise around the house to visit some other iguanas. When he is done, he will return to his room. Oh, his climbing skills are now excellent! He has grown quite a bit in the last year. He paper-trained himself. His favorite thing is to soak in his outdoor pool, then poop in it. I would not get rid of him for anything. He went to the vet right after I got him for a checkup. All my iguanas visit the vet once a year whether they need it or not.

Submitted (NIAD Coordinator) We have a pet store in our area that I turned a complaint form in to the humane society for due to mold and feces and dead crickets in their reptile cages. (the lady actually tried to convince me that the mold was the ig's food!)When I complained to the Humane Society, they told me that they had piles on the place but couldn't shut them down or even make it so they couldn't sell certain animals (reptiles). Along with this - every pet store I go into gives out misinformation on iguanas and I want to do something about it!

Submitted (NIAD Volunteer) I like many others was led to believe that Iguana's were easy to take care of and only needed the basic diet of lettuce and meat. My Iguana "Frank" suffered MBD as a youngster, and even suffered a broken arm because of it. I started researching on my own, and through regular visits to the vet and a whole lot of reading and studying, she is now 3 years old and as big and healthy as any Lizard.

Submitted by: (NIAD Volunteer) I got Phoenix in May 1998. My sister's friend had found him walking along the side of the road. She took the iguana home, and her stepfather sat there and ripped off the iguana's tail. She brings the iguana to our house so we could take care of him until they found another place to live without the stepfather. When they brang the iguana to our house, they had him in a small dog kennel, and were trying to feed him crickets and other animal proteins. Two months later, they came to get Phoenix. They were still living with the man who ripped off Phoenix's tail. We told them we wouldn't give them Phoenix if they were still living with him.

Submitted by: (NIAD Volunteer) I had a cousin that bought an Iguana in New York and the Pet Shop told him that all he needed was a 10 gallon tank and to feed him lettuce, they didn't even tell him he needed a spot light, my cousin is only 12 years old so he did what the guy told him, two months later when I first saw the iguana because my cousin called me to ask what he should do with his pet, since it was getting skinny and looked sick, and had an abscessed growing on the side of his face about have the size of his head....... first I told him to take it to a vet but he said that he couldn't afford it and that his mother would not give him the money for what she called a "worthless creature". Then he asked if I would take him, I felt so bad for the little guy I took him in, I took him to a herpetologist I new and he removed the abscess for me and I put disinfectant and some Neosporin twice a day for three weeks and the skin grew back, just like new.... I fed him Melissa Kaplan's Iguana Salad, and bought him a day and night ultra violet light and made him a cage that was 6 by 6 by 4 feet and since then he has grown became more friendly and is happy in his new surrounding.. I take him out of his cage every day after work and play with him for the rest of the night till it is bed time for both of us, I since then gotten two other iguanas from people who have not been able to care properly for them, I am hopefully going to be getting a bigger place because they need there own room, My wife is complaining about the huge cages in the living room...LOL

Submitted by: (NIAD Volunteer) My husband and I were at a pet store one day, picking up more supplies for our iguana. In the very back of the reptile area, behind all of the cages, was a small iguana in a tiny plastic container, all by itself. We asked one of the sales people about it, and they brought it out for us to see. The iguana was approximately 2 years old, STL was approx. 14". Its back was very bumpy and disfigured, straight down through it's tail. Apparently some family had bought the iguana for their 8-year-old child, who fed it only lettuce. He did not handle it at all, and it became very nasty. One day the family put the iguana into the bathtub to go for a swim, but it's bones were so brittle that as soon as it swished it's tail to swim, it's back broke in three places. Instead of taking it to a vet for help, they decided they no longer wanted the animal and dumped it off at the pet store. The sales people made sure it was seen promptly by a vet, however the damage was already done. At the time we saw it its back was healing, but would always be disfigured. It made me sick to my stomach to see that people could do something like that to an animal, then just get rid of it. They obviously decided that it "was only a reptile" and that it wasn't worth reading up on or taking to the vet.

Submitted by: (NIAD Volunteer) I have had my iguana, Wally for a year and a half now. I bought him as a juvenile at a pet store and the clerk there told me NOTHING about the care he should receive. I'd read a lot of material on the Internet about iguana care, and thought I knew everything I needed to know. I was determined not to be some stupid kid who wanted one of those cool "alternative" pets, and then end up not taking care of him properly. I had a terrarium, the proper lighting, a few different containers for food and water, a hiding spot, a couple things for him to perch on... most of which I received in the kit when I bought Wally. I kept his little home between 70 and 90 degrees at all times, and I had the proper lights for daytime and nighttime with a timer to keep them on a regular schedule. I kept his home clean and I changed his food and water daily. But the food was the problem. He ate only parsley, bok choy, and carrots. None of which were bad for him, but they weren't enough. About a week ago I noticed Wally's bottom jaw looked swollen, wider than normal. I should have called a vet then but I decided to wait a day or two to see if it went back to normal. I didn't know anything about MBD... if I had read this page previously I would have known what was going on. Two days later I walked into the room and noticed Wally hanging out on his rock, slightly darker than normal. I picked him up to look him over, and he seemed fine, so I tried to put him on his log, but his back half slipped off, I tried again and the same thing happened. I thought it was weird, so I put him down on the bottom of the terrarium to see what was wrong, and he tried to walk away, but rather than walk he pulled himself away because his back legs weren't working. I called the vet right away and she knew immediately what the problem was. Calcium deficiency. Now I've got to give the poor thing calcium shots in the tail and I had to take everything out of his cage that he can climb on, because his bones could break so easily right now. I don't know if he'll live, or if he'll have any permanent damage. I feel awful, I wish I would have been more informed before I bought Wally.

Submitted by: (NIAD Volunteer) Guano is a juvenile male, svl:7" I rescued him from a young girl who kept him in a 5gallon sized box and fed him iceberg lettuce. He was provided no light of any kind, no heat and no handling/affection. Needless to say, I was tailwhipped and bitten many times the first few days. He was bone skinny, lethargic, suffered terrible diarrhea and dehydration, and multiple bone and joint deformations.(MBD)Several of his ribs "stick out", his left wrist and elbow are "twisted", and also his right ankle and knee. Several of his toes and fingers are "non-functioning". The vet is sure he will suffer organ failures within a year or so if not sooner. In the meantime, I pamper him w/ lots of love, diligent care, and "handicapped" access to his favorite basking spot.(due to the severity of his deformed limbs, climbing is very difficult for him.) PLEASE people, if you have an iguana, care for it and love it just like you would your human baby!! And if you know someone who has an iguana, take it upon yourself to make SURE that they do the same.......

Submitted by: (NIAD Coordinator) I run a small reptile rescue from my home. I get Iguanas in that would break anyoneís heart. from the school pet that was kept in too small of a cage with another Iguana. These Iguanas were abandoned at a local pet store when the teacher finally realized that they were in dire need of veterinary care. Since the school's classroom budget is small he felt that the money would be better served in buying 2 more Iguanas rather than paying for veterinary care to treat the problem he caused. One of the Iguanas had multiple large abscesses all over its body and one so large under it's jaw that it had not been able to eat for quite some time it was skin and bone and severely dehydrated this Iguana died the day after I took it home! The other one was in a little better shape, she had a strange finger like growth coming from her left shoulder and had no use of that leg, she also had abscesses on her lower jaw but had not lost too much weight. The first thing that struck me with these 2 Iguanas is that they were being kept in the classroom in this condition and it was treated with little regard! The teacher sent the message to his students that animal life is a throw away commodity, as long as you can replace it easily it has no value! This is not the message I want to be taught to my son! The second Iguana required $200.00 worth of reconstructive surgery to repair her shoulder, she has a nasty scar but has full use of her leg. She is now part of my mobile Iguana educational program as well as does birthday parties and a petting zoo, She has even been on a music video! She will never be mistreated again and is used to teach responsibility for our environment and all life! On my website I have an article called "Iguana Tears" discussing the need for reptile rescues and explaining that Iguanas are the biggest portion of reptiles that are being turned in. You can also visit and read the article about my rescue project. We have also been filmed for a childrenís newscast regarding Iguana Awareness that will be aired in England on a childrenís newscast, the reporter promised me that he would send me a copy of the finished show, I plan to use this to further aide the cause of Iguana and reptile rescues.

Submitted by: (NIAD Volunteer) in my opinion, this shows that you can not trust a vet entirely ... just like a human doctor you should get a second opinion. I bought my iguana 7years ago, when I got him home I had a double wide tank and heat rock and lights for him and he ate pretty good but I couldn't find any good books on the proper care for him so I feed him a good mix of fresh foods but being he was a picky eater and I had been told the same old story of just feed him fruits and veggies and give him some sunlight and he will be ok. About the time he was turning 2 years old he was still fairly small about 10" svl I noticed his toes started to dance up and down on their own... Not long after that he tried to jump onto a branch from his tank and missed he fell and broke his left rear leg! Well I called his vet and was told the power was out at the vet and could I call back in a hour so I did and was told they would see him Monday this was on Friday after asking them to refer me to another vet that could look at him now they said I could go ahead and bring him in. I did and after they examined him I was told they would have to operate on it to put in a pin and that it would be $200 so I took out my credit card and went home while they worked on him well I came back and was told I should buy some vitamin and calcium powders from them because they used some from Germany and they cost about $10 a bottle also I was to feed him baby food 3 times a day. Well this went on for a week and then I received a letter telling me to come back in for his stitches to be removed so I went and I asked if it was to soon but the vet that did the operation was not there and so one of the other doctors started to remove the stitches and as he did the leg started opening up so I told him to stop but it was too late now they had to re-stitch his leg but the doctor that opened the wound could not stitch it so I had to take him home like that! So I was very careful not to let it get dirty. The next day we were back at the vet to get his leg fixed and they were in a hurry so they didnít put him to sleep or give him a shot to num the leg before they started and to top it off they let a new assistant that was not used to working with lizards hold him down with his front legs penned to his sides and when they put him down on the table in front of me his right front arm was broken and then they had the nerve to tell me that if I wanted his front leg fixed it would cost another $200!! Well I took him home and took care of him and stared calling around to get a 2nd opinion and found that almost all other vets would not have operated on him and that given the care he would have been ok on his own, but I was told that if the leg didnít heal right and that it was a 20 or 30% chance that it would I would have to have his leg removed! I was told this my the vet that did the operation, but all the other vets I talked to afterwards said they would never have operated on him. SO after feeding him 3 times a day and caring for him for over 9 months then having two broken legs I was at the end of my rope. So I went to my local pet store and asked them what else could I do because I had spent over $700 and 9 months of caring day after day on him and he was slowly getting worse I think the only thing that kept him alive was me spending so much time holding him softly and holding him in the tub so he could have a bath and putting everything else aside to be with him. The lady at the pet store was very used to seeing these problems and told me to throw out the babyfood and the expensive powders and just buy him some NUTRA-GROW iguana food and regular calcium powder and that would fix him. So at the end of my rope I thought well I spent $700 so whats another $10 or $15 I went home and started feeding him the food with the cal. powder and in about two days I could see I difference and in a week he was crawling around on 2 legs I was so happy to see him doing better I ran down to tell the lady at the pet store and to think her for saving my good boy. He got well very quickly and was on all fours in a month after he was saved it was time to take out the pin in his leg well I WAS NOT going to go back to the vet that almost killed him so I took him to a new vet and they took some x-rays and I was told that the pin was put in wrong and that it had started to go through his pelvis and into his abdomen and that there was no way of getting it out without killing him because they would have to cut through most of his leg to get at it and would probably bleed to death on the operating table. So I will have to live with the fact that if the pin ever cuts him inside that he will bleed to death before I could do anything about it. But its been 5 years now and I still have to hand feed him his iguana food but he is healthy and happy his front leg healed up fine and he can run and jump and climb. Ever since he started getting better he has had literally a smile on his face! He is about 3 feet long he would be longer but his tail broke off the first day I got because he was so scary.! I donít know how heavy he is right now but I think heís about 8 pounds and very solid.

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