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How to save an Iguana Cindy Steinle © 2001

To start everything off, you do research. You go to a pet store that deal in many different varieties of reptiles and ask if they have any suggestions for care books to read. You also ask if there are any good web sites that you can check out. You track down a local herpetological society to see what they suggest for research materials. You check out books from the local library or purchase them at a bookstore. You spend some a while reading and researching and preparing.

Next, you start getting supplies ready.

First you get the lights. Not just any light will do. You pick up Vitalight© UV fluorescent bulb and a fluorescent fixture. Iguanas need UV rays to metabolize their food and vitamins.

Second, you get a Ceramic Heat Emitter, rheostat, and ceramic base dome fixture. Iguanas need it hot. They are from South and Central America. But the rheostat will help control the temps so that it doesnít get too hot. But you pass on the hot rock. Iguanas sense heat from above not below and you donít want your little buddy burning themselves.

The third things you get are a few thermometers, a cold air humidifier, a humidity gauge, and a nice spray bottle. After all they are from the rainforest. They need humidity. And cold air is better because it prevents the growth of bacteria that live in humid environments. Iguanas need it humid and warm and since you arenít psychic you would rather use the tools that are made for determining these things.

Now you get some indoor/outdoor carpeting. Itís cheap and easy to use. You get enough to cover a piece of wood and make a few sheets for the bottom of the cage. You get 2 small water dishes so that one is always available clean.

Looks like your almost done. You now need to get a home. You pick out a 60-gallon tank. Its small but for the first 9 months to a year it will work. After that you are already getting ready to build your own. Along with it you get a sturdy screened top. You want to make sure it canít be opened. You have heard a lot of stories of Igs getting out and know that they are good escape artists.

Since there is no way you are going to leave an empty cage for your friend, you invest in a hide log and a 2x4. You cut the 2x4 so that it will securely fit into the enclosure and not slide around. You wouldnít want it to fall with him on it. You cover it with some astro turf to make it soft and easy to climb on. You make sure that everything will fit with room to maneuver around. The hide log must fit in there, because well everyone needs somewhere to go that they can escape the world for a bit and still feel safe.

Closer to finished, you realize you canít just leave the tank unclean. So you mix bleach and water into a 10:1 part solution and clean it down. After all, who knows what it all touched before you bought it. Once itís cleaned you get everything set up. You carefully cut the carpet and then melt the edges to prevent fraying. You place the water dish and hide box in. Now you stick the thermometers up. One up high where the CHE is going to go. One in the middle of the tank. And the last one goes where the coldest spot of the cage is going to go. You secure the 2x4 now that it is covered.

One thing left to do. You need to find a vet. After all, they need a yearly check-up. You call around and meet with one that you feel is good. He knows Melissa Kaplan and he knows James Hatfield. Now we are set.

The big day is here. You head to the pet store that knows its reptiles. With money in hand you check out the Igs. Do you see it? The one running around like it is an escaped lunatic. His eyes are bright and wild. His belly is round and plump. Thatís the one you want to see. Boy is he a squirrelly one. Whipping and trying to flip in the salespersonís hand. Oh look at him try to snap at you. You take a moment to check him over. No cuts, all the toes, full tail, and no mites. All good signs. Yes, this is the Ig you want. You pause a moment and think. ďAm I ready. This is a commitment that is not unlike a child. Almost 20 years of life. Growing maybe up to 6 feet and 25 pounds. Can and will I give this Iguana the life it deserves?Ē You know the answer and learned it in your research. ďYES I CAN AND WILL DO RIGHT!Ē

You go to the front and pay for your iguana. Nope you donít need dried or canned Iguana food. You already have a salad at home and diced small. No crickets or meal worms, because everyone knows Iguanas are vegetarians. You take your change and leave. Smiling and happy. You have found a life long friend. Now, what was that about taming?

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