Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jumping On My Soapbox With Wanda

I rarely jump on a soapbox other than with my family (which I'm sure they'd really rather I didn't), but I'm making a little exception. Some of those really nice comments I received about my Think Christmas post asked about my iguana and what happened to her.

Wanda was dying of metabolic disease when I got her. She was only about a foot long, her mouth was stuck together with a sticky substance so she couldn't eat--she was so sick! The owner was going to turn her loose in the desert, which would have surely been the death of her. After a visit to a vet, I gave her special shots with a teenie-tiny needle and blended food in the blender so I could feed her with a syringe. Wanda required special lights and heat, something that requires a real balance, and she hadn't been getting it.

She got better after a couple months and I kept her for about eight years. It was fun to include her in our family Christmas cards and children always wanted to see her and hold her. I'm not sure how much feelings iguanas have for their owners, but I "bonded" with Wanda just from the special care she required. I would wrap her in a towel and hold her on my chest to feed her. When she was done eating, she'd slowly close her eyes and settle in to sleep. Bobbing her head at me was as close as she came to recognizing me as someone special in her life. She grew so big (over four feet) that I just couldn't keep her any longer. A vet with a very large reptile home was willing to take her from me and though I was sad to see her go, it was the best thing for her.

Hold on while I climb on my soapbox:
Iguanas should not be pets unless the owners are well trained in caring for them! The pet stores sell cute little four or five inch green iguanas to people who have no idea how large they will become. Parents buy those little critters for their children with no long term perspective. Iguanas don't stay small if you leave them in a small container--they will outgrow it or die under those conditions. Iguanas need their living spaces to be larger than they are, which means a four foot iguana would need at least a six foot space. Their razor sharp teeth can rip your finger off or worse if they bite you. Iguanas can also carry salmonella, so it is extremely important to wash your hands after holding them. It was an adventure I wouldn't have traded for anything and I really loved that iguana with her misshaped jaw (from the disease), but I would never purchase an iguana from a pet store or anywhere else.

Whew! Okay, that was quite a climb down from my soapbox, but now I'll go sew a block or two and get back to quilty-type posts.


  1. Good Morning Carol...I had no idea 4 feet long...and larger I presume....
    I think any creature that is love will give back that love ten fold, even a reptile...he was one right? lol A very large one...Here I am with cute little cats that possibly could be his I don't think my hubby would give me a reptile...I would surely be back in an emergency room lol
    Wait till you hear.....

    1. I meant to say loved...geesh, I should preview before I hit publish lol

  2. Good for you and your soap box! I agree and that goes for any animal ... while most are wanted when they are cute and little, so often when the amount of care needed out grows the cuteness and the cuteness wears off, the animal suffers needlessly. Bless your kind heart!

  3. We had an iguana named Charlie. We had him for about 5 years. He was a little over 4 foot long when he passed away from a microbotic infection. The vet said he probably got it from the fresh produce that we fed him but was not sure. We kept him in a very large aquarium when we were gone but the rest of the time he roamed the house. I was sad to see him go because he was quite fun to have around.

  4. And right you are, Madame Samm, right you are, no animal should be bought without knowing the details, not even a cat or a dog, let alone an reptile!

  5. Thank you for commenting on the aspect of pets being an incredible responsibility and ensuring that they must have a the right living conditions (whether you can provide them or not). Proud of you for that!

  6. Thanks so much for sharing Wanda's story and most importantly for letting people know how important it is to have the correct conditions for them.

  7. I definitely agree with you. I used to teach nursery school at a nature center. People would abandon their animals right outside our doors. One day while I was in the parking lot, I saw an iguana running under a car. I called for help and the director and I managed to get a plastic crate over it so that it could be caught. Later that day we found 2 more had been abandoned outside our green house. These animals were abandoned in Connecticut in late September. There was no way they would have survived if we had not found them right away. Luckily we had space for them in our reptile room. Unfortunately, they had not received the proper treatment and it took a long time before they were healthy and could accept human contact. Wanda was lucky to have someone like you to take care of her.


Comments are always appreciated!

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