September 27, 2004

Curious, Geoge - iguana? An iguana has been hanging around our backyard for the last week or so. I think it must be someone's escaped pet. Can it survive?

It seems quite happy right now, eating bugs and swimming in the pool, but winter is coming. While we don't have severe winters, it does get below freezing in Dec./Jan. I don't want a reptile to care for, but I also don't want it to get in trouble. In any case, I doubt that I could catch the damn thing! Any iguana experts out there?

  • I'm no expert, but I'd try to capture it. Then you could take it to a shelter, so it can (hopefully) survive.
  • You probably want to try to capture it and bring it to a shelter. You can get a largish trap from an animal shelter. Some info on temperature can be found at Are Iguanas good pets?. According to that page, they need a temperature above 85°F to digest their food.
  • The temperature issue is a real threat to him/her. I'd definitely try to capture him. If he's an escaped pet, he may be tame enough to catch him by hand; if he's like the iguana we used to have, you'll have to trap him somehow. You might want to try to bait him with leafy greens and some fruit bits. Also be careful if you handle him; iguanas can carry salmonella. NEVER try to grab an iguana by the tail, as it can detach.
  • I'd start by putting up some "Found" posters in your local area. If the owners are located you've got nothing to worry about. There's probably some kid out there crying themself to sleep each night over the disappearance of their beloved pet.
  • It's cold out here. and I'm all alone, and nothing to eat -- I-guana go home!
  • I would contact your local SPCA ,or your local equivalent, if you are worried about catching it yourself.
  • I'll call my vet tomorrow. I doubt that he's a reptile expert, but may be able to give me some clues. Google didn't turn up any iguana rescue centers in my area. Poor thing!
  • Animal contro;l may be able to get him with a net kore easily than you will be able to trap him. You might try filling some empty plastic two-liter bottles or gallon plastic milkjugs with warm water from your faucet (NOT boiling hot, just the kind of hot you can put a hand into yourself without pain) and try leaving these outside overnight where he can appraoch them. He may come up to them for warmth, since reptiles are attracted to heat.
  • Oh, and, there's no ASPCA here - and I suspect animal control would be the worst I could do.
  • Be sure to place lids on tightly, I should have added.
  • Do you have any largish pets? I know my dog would rip a stray iguana to shreds.
  • I have cats, but they're too lazy to hunt bigish reptiles. They even ignore the chickens and rabbits that have taken up residence. And, thanks, bees, for the poem and the advice.
  • Whereabouts do you live, path? Perhaps some monkey has been hankering for an iguana as a pet...? In Central America iguanas in some of the markets you see piles of live iguanas, legs tied together and stacked like cordwood. Their eyes follow you as you walk by. People eat them, iguanas are sometimes called "chicken of the jungle."
  • People eat them, iguanas are sometimes called "chicken of the jungle."
    Hey, what do ya know! You people teach me something new every day.
  • Larry C: I live in the San Joaquin Valley in Calif. - near Bakersfield. I get the impression that the nearest MoFites are in the Los Angeles area - 150 miles away from here.
  • Definitely capture it and see if you can't find a herpetological society in your area. Here is a link to a list of herp societies and rescues. If there isn't one in your area, try looking for a reptile vet, as s/he might point you in the right direction. The little guy would love San Joaquin Valley summers, but iguanas really need to keep their body temp in the >80s all year round to stay alive. Thanks for being so conscientious and asking for help. :) (Former iguana expert here.)
  • My vet said to call animal control. (There don't appear to be any reptile rescue services anywhere near.) I'm waiting to hear from them. He thought he could find it a home since there are some iguana-lovers here. I guess animal control will check with him. Luckily, the lizard seems to be finding something to eat since it appears that it pooped in the pool like 3 times. I'm trying to resist doing a shock treatment in case it decided to do a few more laps, but it's tough, even though the pool is almost never used. The stuff I read on line mentioned that they can carry salmomella. When this is over I will turn the pool into a chlorine stew. Or, may drain it and start over. So far, the days are in the mid 80's, at least, so if it takes a few days for animal control to get back to me he should be able to survive.
  • I figured I'd let any concerned iguana experts know that the iguana in the back yard has been captured. The guy who does our lawn caught it by the pool, where our friendly neighborhood lizard was taking another dip. Lizard and lawn guy have gone off home to be happy together, the lawn guy making audible plans on acquiring everything he needs to keep the iguana happy and healthy. I'm glad that the lizard has a good home now. Though I'm going to miss watching it wander around the yard and go for a swim in the pool.
  • Well, the guy that does our lawn got the iguana this afternoon when it was taking a dip in the pool. I suspect it was just in time since the weather had cooled down, and our yard is so big I couldn't find where it was hanging out. I was not optimistic about its survival. When they brought it to show me that it was saved, it was a really sad blue instead of the cheerful light yellow-green it wore when it was happier. The yard guy wants to keep it, so I gave him instructions on warming it up and feeding it (I did a lot of Google research behind your backs.) The yard guy says he'll go to the pet store tomorrow to get a big tank and the other stuff he needs. So, 'ray! On the other hand, I'll miss it.
  • Glad to hear the iguana has a new home. I hope he and his new owner are happy together. And I'm so jealous that you have a pool.
  • Ah, shinything, believe me that it's better if you know a neighbor who has a pool and is willing to let you swim there, while they do the maintanence.
  • Ahh, a happy ending. That's nice. On the other hand, I-guana miss you till the day I die.