Sunday, July 27, 2008
Bitten by an Iguana
I've had lots of pets over the years, but none of them ever got as excited at feeding time as my iguana, Gwangi.
At the mere sight of her food dish, Gwangi leaps from her basking shelf to the cage door. When I say "leap" you'd swear iguanas could fly, because she does.
Not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, Gwangi hasn't yet figured out that I can't open the door and give her the food as long as she's attached to it, so I have to lure her to the other side of the cage with a shred of collard greens fed through the bars.
With any luck, she takes long enough to eat the lure for me to get the door open and get her food dish inside. Supper is usually torn up collard greens, broccoli slaw, celery and sometimes grapes or watermelon thrown in.
It doesn't take her long to realize she's been duped though, and soon she leaps over to where I've placed her food dish.
I try to get my hand out of the way pretty quickly, because, like most herbivores, iguanas have eyes on the side of their head. It gives them a broad field of vision so they can watch out for predators, but it also gives them a blind spot right in front of their face.
Since they can't see what's directly in front of them, iguanas depend on the sense of taste and smell to know when to bite into their dinner, and if I still have some collard green smell on my fingers she will sometimes nip at them.
She's not being mean though, and immediately releases as soon as she realizes her mistake. Iguanas have dozens of pointed teeth and can inflict a painful bite when they want to, almost always breaking the skin. When I first got her and she was still afraid of me, I had to really watch out for that.
Because they start out small, a lot of people get iguanas as pets for children. This is a really bad idea. An adult iguana can grow to five feet long for a female and six feet for a male.
Being reptiles, iguanas don't think like we do which can lead to painful misunderstandings, both for the owner and the iguana.
For an adult though, iguanas can be a pretty cool pet, so long as you're willing to do the research and provide the proper kind of habitat for them to live in.