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My Boy Me......please!

Discussion in 'Green Iguanas' started by redtailgal, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. redtailgal

    redtailgal Elite Member

    My Boy Elroy.....major problem tonight! Advice?

    This may end up being a short novel. For that, I apologize now. I am flabbergasted, twitterpated....whatever the right word is, that is what I am.

    So anyway. I have never had a lizard. Always wanted one, but not like this. I am not a total newb.....I rehab snakes in my county. But lizards have legs, and snakes dont, there is a huge difference. Ok I am a total newb.

    nuff about me. Let's talk about Elroy.

    My mother called me and siad that one of her friends husband was very ill and had to travel for medical care, they would be gone 3 months and needed someone to care for their iguana. Cool! I said. That was a stupid reaction.

    So they bring me Elroy, after telling he he is "sweet" and "easy", and comes with "everything I will need for him". They show up with a 3 foot ****ed off iguana in a WAY too small AQUARIUM. This aquarium has a potting soil substrate that has been in there for an entire year, and she planted grass in it, so it has stuff growing here and there. Yeah, I'd be a ****ed off lizard, too.

    The "sweet" lizard proceeded to tail whip her as soon as she moved toward the "cage".......he was panicked when she reached in to pick him up, got very aggressive and so she backed down and put the lid back on the cage.

    He had no UV light, no heater, and absolutely no water whatsoever in the cage. When asked, she told me that he did not need to have access to water all the time because it would cause a fungus. (????) She also told me that he was to be fed 3 times a week, a diet of lettuce and canned fruit. Once a week he should have a teaspoon of wet cat food and a small piece of cheddar cheese.
    And for a treat, he could have pancakes with only a tiny amount of syrup.

    I'm a newb, but I KNOW this is not right.

    Then an hour after she leaves, she calls me on my cell, while I am out buying a UV light and heater, while mentaly preparing my list of produce to buy to feed this guy (who is ribby by the way) and tells me that they "talked it over" and decided that they dont want him back.

    So, here I am. The stupid fool of a sucker that got an angry, 3 foot lizard in poor health dropped in my lap. I was going to be sensible about it and find someone better equipped to take him.

    Then I talked to the previous owner's daughter. Elroy was hatched and given away as a prize at a fair to a teenage boy who won the ring toss. He lived in a 10 gallon aquarium for the first year of his life until the teen boy was killed in a car accident. The next owner put him in a rubbermade container that was a ltitle larger.......but it is DARK inside a rubbermade. This second owner feed him babyfood meat. He stayed there for 6 months until this owner was busted for pot. Then my mother's friend got him and has had him for 18 months, still in a too small enclosure and poor diet.

    Helluva life for the guy, huh? I was gonna be sensible.

    I got his UV set up, got him some heat and a sunny window to sit in, and FED him. He freaked the first couple times I put my in his cage. But then, he licked me. Then he ate hibiscus out of my hand, even though he was clearly afraid.

    I fell in love with a ****ed off giant lizard. Did I mention that I am a fool?

    OK, so now there is a design for this giant enclosure in my head......about a 6 by 6 by 6. Yeah, its big. He's big cramped his whole life. I hope that eventually he will be able to be loose much of the time, but I want him to be able to run laps (maybe he will get some muscle tone). He will have to suffer in that tiny little box for a week or so, until I can get the supplies and get it built. Provided I figure out which room of my house has enough room for me to build a room within a room.

    I saved a link to the fruit, veggie and greens pages to help me with feeding him. (cool care page by the way).

    I am watching the CAT method of training, and trying to decide how to proceed with it, seeing as he is in a unique situation.

    I already invested in a UV light, honestly I dont know the spec of the light. I bought it from a local pet shop from a guy that I have known awhile. He has iguana's and told me this was the one he used for his ig's. His ig's are gorgeous and good health seems to radiate off of them. (thankfully, he has offered to "mentor" me. Goodness knows I will need it). I had originaly hoped that Elroy could go live with him, but this guy is "fulled up" right now and cant handle another critter.

    Humidity is a problem. Right now I am misting twice a day. Elroy loves it and sticks his face out for me, lol.

    So Am I totaly insane?

    What is a good treat? One for me to hand feed and that treat be given ONLY when he is interacting with me? ( Taken from my hand)

    Elroy has very dry skin. It is peeling in places, but some of his spikes have dry skin "caps". He should probably be bathed, but I'm not comfortable doing that just yet. Any suggestions?

    He is too thin. Should I just feed him a normal healthy diet and wait paitently for the weight to come up? or feed a "put some weight on him diet"?

    I have to get that potting soil out of there, now. It bothers me. What do you use for a substrate? (My friend uses and recommended paper towels that can be changed daily)

    I am adding water to his food and being sure to get water on the sides of the tank. I see him licking this off, and I have added a small water bowl. I cant add much, because the tank is so small. Any ideas on water options until I get him in a bigger enclosure?

    Any other tips? Suggestions?

    I already know that I am a fool, so there would be no need in stating the obvious.

    I'll add pics in the next post for you.
  2. redtailgal

    redtailgal Elite Member

    had to take the pics out of my photobucket account, I needed the space
  3. chuckloris

    chuckloris Active Member

    Thank god, when I read this I thought it was gonna be one of those "my iguana is dying, FIX IT" posts. I'm glad he's in better hands now! Poor baby. He's a handsome iguana! 3 feet? Do you know how old he is? He might be 'full grown' already because he has been stunted from his care. He looks like an adult appearance-wise.

    The first thing I would suggest would be a vet checkup. Has he ever been to the vet? I wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't. Since he's had a less-than-optimal life, I would have a vet take a look at him.

    While you are building the cage, I would suggest sticking him in a smaller room in your house and setting up a temporary free roam. At least, that's what I would do because I would feel bad for him. Or maybe you can find something a little larger at a secondhand store or something? I know my local Goodwill ends up with lots of enclosures.

    I don't use substrate in my cage at all. Is he tub trained? If he is pooping wherever the heck he wants to, I would use newspaper for now. Give him a shallow tub of water and see if he'll use it for a toilet. Well, you might not be able to fit one in his cage right now. As for water, I'd also get a humidity gauge and see where the humidity is at. If it has a screen top, try to cover most of the top so it keeps the humidity in.

    As for food, I pretty much use this as a guide.
  4. hennisntacanibal

    hennisntacanibal Elite Member

    Hi. Welcome to the site. I'm glad you are trying to make a better life for this guy. Definitely not a foolish thing to do. I am not an ig owner but I do have a few suggestions based on what I know.
    For substrate, paper towel is an excellent choice because it is easy to clean and if he ends up having any parasites they'll be easy to find. I definitely recommend seeing a vet as well, and bringing in a fecal sample. For his dry skin, since you're a little iffy on bathing right now (though you are going to have to get over that :)) mist him when you mist his cage. Do you have any live plants? Those will help keep humidity up. What are you using to measure temps/humidity?
    I would NOT recommend letting him free roam, even temporarily, as igs are unpredictable at the best of times, and you don't want any accidents. And for his diet, just make sure you're feeding him as much of the staple foods twice a day as he will eat, with a few varied treats mixed in. Good luck with him, make sure to keep reading up on the caresheet and asking questions!
  5. redtailgal

    redtailgal Elite Member

    Thanks for the link on the food. I added it to myu ever growing "IguanaFavorites" folder.

    NO, free roam is definately out of the question right now. He has a long way to go before he is calm enough for that.

    I would love to bath him, but right now he would absolutel freak out if I tried to pick him up. I feel blessed that he allowed me to touch him. He had broken off his tail at some point, and it is growing back........He's kinda touchy and his tail is healing, and I am two week post operative (throat surgery). It's not just that I am too scared, lol.

    I did get about half of the potting soil out this afternoon, just scooping it out and into the trash can. I quite before he got antsy and I got tired. I will finish tonight or in the morning.

    In the process of getting out said potting soil, I got snotted by a lizard. I've have lots of animal fluids on me before, but today was a first. Lizard snot!

    I am using the same little round hydrometer gauge that I use when I have snakes.

    I do have live plants, but I know he will munch on them. I have christmas cactus, pothos and a jade. I dont mind if he munches them, but would they hurt him?
  6. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    Here is an edible plant list, if its not on it then don't use them in the enclosure;
    Edible Plants List

    Jade plant is toxic
  7. jabberwocky

    jabberwocky Elite Member

    he looks to be in decent condition considering his story. at least he doesn't seem to be permanently deformed due to MBD from the lack of UVB. as long as you have plenty of time, patience, and extra cash I think you'll make a wonderful iggy slave:) and saving an animal's life is the most sane thing a person can do. your probably giving him about 3 or 4 times longer to live getting him out of there!
  8. mere

    mere Active Member

    WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF IGGY'S! They're real loveable and FULL of personality! Many of us have "rejects" who became our little friends. We got our Harry 11 years ago as a reject with a real tainted past (a lot like yours), but with a lot of patience and love, she became our sweet, gentle girl -- but one with an occasional bad hair day! Yours looks fairly healthy from the pics, maybe a little underweight which is fixable and a little off color - also fixable. The bad attitude "should" change in time, when the right living conditions and care is met.

    You're on good track with UV lighting. You'll see his/her color improve in next few months with that addition. Heat Heat Heat! Make sure you add good heat basking lights during the day to get that temp up and you'll see an improved appetite and mood. At night, turn off the day lights and switch to a red heat light so healthy sleeping patterns develop. Humidity! Misting is a love it or hate it for igs. Mine hate it and attack the bottle, but it's necessary! We give them daily soakings though and both of ours love that! We put them in a clean wash tub with extra warm water and they just fall asleep in it. Also they learned to "do the doo-doo" in the water, which saves a clean up in their environment! Substrate can be as simple as newspaper and a blanket or towel. We line the bottom with several layers of paper for quick clean ups, then fold up a blanket on one end under a heat source. It's funny to see them lounging with arms folded back, sound asleep! When your environment gets started, include some safe climbing sticks and ladders. We wrap heavy rope around the sticks for climbing aids. Make sure he can't climb too close to the heat source though, to prevent burns.

    Patiently spend time with him daily. Until you're comfortable picking him up, toss a towel over the head to calm him, then using another towel or wearing a pair of good leather gloves, pick him up and move the towel off his head. Hand feeding is good time training too. We cut long pieces of fruit like apples and peaches to feed, or larger pieces of lettuce. He'll start to recognize you bringing the goodies and actually come to the source when he sees the treats! Read about the right foods to feed them -- and it's nothing like you mentioned in your note!!

    Keep this site posted, because the folks here love those critters and will be very happy to help you through your early days with your new friend!
  9. JoeyG

    JoeyG Subscribed User Premium Member

    Everybody hit the nail on the head telling you to hand feed slowly. Mine will go to his little dish and wait for me or eat out of my hand. Once he sees you're there to help him he'll associate you with the good things in life. My hat's of to you for taking in the little guy!!! You're doing a great thing and soon you'll see they're great to have around and they have their own personalities that you'll begin to see. :)
  10. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    welcome to the site. You are doing a great job already.

    I would seriously consider a vet visit for a blood panel. All that protein in his past diet may have seriously damaged his kidneys. You need to know this before you really do anything. The blood work will also tell you calcium levels, as will an X-ray for bone density. All good things to know. The vet may want to do a calcium injection.

    I have no idea where you are, but if it's not cold out yet, take him outside for some SUN.

    Oh and if you think he's ticked off now and tail-whipping, wait until he starts feeling better!

    For your UVB, you need to order the best of the best, and there is no better light out there than a mercury vapor bulb. His current tank is too small for one (it produces heat and UVB and must be kept at a minimum distance of 12 inches) but for his new enclosure you are building it will be perfect. You can order one from Welcome To ReptileUV - Mega-Ray® UVB lamps for reptile lighting worldwide or you can pick up a powersun at most big box stores (your reptile guy probably sells them too).

    You were right on the hibiscus as a treat. You may also want to try some watermelon, papaya or mango.

    The peeling skin is probably a shed. THey shed in pieces. A good soak in the bathtub would help, but right now lots of humidity and misting is good. And you are doing good by misting his food. You can also add repcal iguana pellets as a salad topper, but be SURE to soak them in water first. It's a great hydrater.
  11. redtailgal

    redtailgal Elite Member

    Wow! Lots of great info, Thanks to each of you.

    He likes misting, and is starting to turn to me for a face shot, lol. The funny things that turn animals round.

    I bought mango tonight! It's cool, perhaps Elroy and I will share a mango for breakfast.

    I spoke with the vet, (Coddle Creek) they are doing the fecal for me, but the vet agreed that right now he is very stressed, and felt that he was healthy enough to hold off for a week or so on the vet visit. I agree. I've taken in snakes and Hawks (I am a liscensed Falconer, btw) in similar situations, and rushing them to the vet for a major workup can put a stressed animal over the edge.

    I think I have the heat in the tank worked out fairly well. It's very difficult to get such a small area with warmer and cooler areas when the inhabitant is just way too big.

    His larger enclosure will come in stages. I have the materials here to build a 6x6x6 "room" for him, but he will not get it all at once. We will start building the first installment will be 3 feet deep, by 6 feet wide and 6 feet tall. In about 10 weeks, the room that he will be living in will be emptied out (am storing some furniture for a friend), and we can add the other 3 feet of depth.

    As for his handling, it is amazing how quickly he is adapting. He was a raving lunatic two days ago. This evening, however, he let me slide my hand under his chest. He was a little nervous, and he did hiss at me a couple times, but I just held my ground, and rubbed his "sweet spot" on his shoulder with my thumb and he settled down. Once he was good and calm, we called it a night. I gave him a bite of celery, and turned off the light.

    Poor guy has been through so many changes in the past two days, and has so many more changes coming. They are all for the good, I know, but he has no way of knowing this. It must be a very frightening thing for him right now.

    OH! I forgot to ask my lizardy friend so I'll ask you all on here. When I give him a bath, I am assuming that the water should be only slightly warmer than room temp, similar to the soaking water for a snake? If he is agreeable, we will try a bath tomorrow. I hope that he enjoys it, he doesnt need a negative experience right now.
  12. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Yes on the water temp. And if your tub is white... white freaks them out. Just sink a towel to the bottom.
  13. lilOme1968

    lilOme1968 Member

    Thank God for people like you or your little iguana would be in a box in the dark right now.... cudo's to you! and good luck! I will keep you both in my thoughts...
  14. redtailgal

    redtailgal Elite Member

    So, gonna go see if we can get a bath.

    pray for me people.
  15. Rickenbackerman

    Rickenbackerman Elite Member

    Great advice so far from everyone here.

    If you'd like to and have time to kill, read my thread - I was in a very similar situation about two years ago:

    Watch out! If you think he's angry now wait till the UVB and diet sinks in - he could turn into a monster, and those teeth will surely send you to the ER if he bites you.

    I'd advise against building his new house in stages - most Igs do not like change at all. I did mine in two steps, and when I added two feet to the width a while ago mine did NOT like it. He was visibly upset and pooped all over the place for about three months.
  16. redtailgal

    redtailgal Elite Member

    Well, we had a big day. Last night, it didnt work out for him to get a bath, so we did it this afternoon.

    Elroy did great for his bath. He was a little panicked at first, so I dropped a dry washcloth on his head for a minute or so and then ease it off bit by bit. He settled down and really enjoyed his bath. And by really, I mean REALLY. I really didnt expect this sort of reaction, tell me if this is normal or if I have a whacked in the head giant lizard.........he rolled like an alligator? He would roll, and then stand up and bob his head up and down and side to side, very slow and relaxed, then just close his eyes ( I was waiting on the groan, lol). Then he licked the water, the side of the tub, my arm and tried to take a bite of washcloth (I convinced him to eat some turnip greens instead, and he agreed). Then he rolled again. Really, rolling?

    Thanks to the link on Ozzy. It's a long one, so I will read it as time permits over the next couple days. I do love a story with a happy ending, so I hope its a good one...but dont spoil it for me.

    I went and did some lizard shopping today. I have been unhappy with the heat in his tank, so I bought an red basking lamp for him, this can be left on 24/7. I also bought a "side of the tank warming pad thing", that attaches to the outside of the tank to provide gentle heat to his underbelly region while he is basking. He likes it! He has spent the evening perched on his perch, head up eye closed in postive lizard contentment.

    I also bought him is own hyrdometer and thermometer, as I normaly end up with a rehab snake this time of year and would be needing my snake gear back.

    I bought some calcium supplement for his food, per suggestion of the vet.

    Right now the warm side of his tank is at 93 degrees and the humidity is at 84. The cool side is at 88 degrees and the humidity is 82. I hope that is about right. What d'ya think?

    He is WAY WAY WAY more active today than he has been, and was a little harder to handle. This is great! He is a pushy little booger, and I am having to start setting some boundaries for him. He will his and tail lash sometimes, but is quickly learning that I will not just go away at his command. I do respect his moods, and try not to mess with him when he doesnt want it, but he must learn that I will not be dictated to, lol. We are slowing having a meeting of the minds.

    I worked with him today about letting me pick him up, I am really worried about damaging his tail. It's been broken twice and looks pretty brittle right now.

    He will occasionaly eat from my hand, and is tolerating me picking him up pretty well. He likes being misted so much that I have decided that he will be held while he is misted, and that approach seems to be working. He actually walked toward me and PLACED his front feet on my arms tonight when I picked hum up for his bath. He does automaticaly hiss each time his feet leave the ground, but I can handle a hiss, I am sure that it is frightening for him.

    While he was taking a bath, hubby got the tank and cleaned it for me. No more potting soil! We have it lined with paper towels for now. Elroy was a little unsure about it at first, I dont think he was comfortable with the texture/feeling under his toes, but he settled down nicely.

    As for hs tank, I really want to get him in something larger, but I simply cannot do the full size enclosure for about 10 weeks. Would it be better to just wait and change it once? Or should I give him the half size now and add on (it would take about 15 minutes to do the add on) in 10 weeks? Which would be better for him?

    We have set up a vet appointment for next tuesday. We will have an x-ray, bloodwork and a physical exam. Any thing else?

    To recap:
    X-ray, bloodwork and physical exam from the vet. What else?

    Partial size cage and add on later or just wait and do the full size in 10 weeks?

    warm side of his tank is at 93 degrees and the humidity is at 84. The cool side is at 88 degrees and the humidity is 82. Is this about right?

    His bathtime it normal? does it indicate a problem? or is my lizard a freak?

    Folks, I thank you, on behalf of Elroy for all the help. He has gone from one clueless owner to another. I am also a clueless owner, but I hope to do right my this boy.

    BTW, it is amazingly rewarding to see him perched and basking like he is. SNIFF, I could just tear up and get all mushy about it.
  17. redtailgal

    redtailgal Elite Member

    oh yeah......ya'll didnt warn me about the bathtub pooping.

    Was that part of lizard chic initiation or what? lol

    WHERE do they store all of that? geesh.
  18. justor

    justor Elite Member

    Be glad it happened in the tub and not somewhere you actually have to clean it up! But yea, get used to that. Almost all iguanas (and many other herps as well) will routinely poop in the tub.

    And about the "storing" of it all... I always wonder the same thing about the food going in lol. I look at the salad plate and look at my iguana and think to myself "no way he's getting all that in there". I come back 15 minutes later and the whole plate is gone.
  19. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    congrats on the start of potty training your iguana. Many keepers throw their ig in the tub once a day to go. Warm water gets things moving (if you have any kids, you should know this!)

    I would go for more space, and now. Build the half enclosure, it's way better than what he currently has.

    Glad you picked up the calcium supplement. I'm surprised no one mentioned it to you in any of the other posts. Just sprinkle it on his greens like you would be salting your food. A little goes a long way.

    Be careful with the heat pad. Those things can get hot. place your digital thermometer right on top of it to be sure its not getting too too hot. Igs aren't good a realizing they are getting burnt until they are already nice and crispy. If it's too warm, layer some towels over it.

    Have you read over our care sheet? Also, if you have not done so already, pick up James Hatfields Ultimate Iguana Guide. Best book out there.

    Attached Files:

  20. redtailgal

    redtailgal Elite Member

    Good morning!
    Quick question before I start the day.

    The sides of the enclosure. Is a wire ok if he is misted twice a day? Or should it be fully enslcosed with wood and plexiglass?

    If wire is acceptable at all, what do you recomend?

    How about if the back and two sides are wooden, and I have the top front as wire and the bottom half enclosed with wood or plexiglass?

    I am trying to figure out the best way of maintaining air flow while being able to maintain temp/humidity AND keep costs undercontrol.

    I have some left over linoleum, would this make a suitable floor?

    AND a hidey hole. What do you used to provide a hiding place for your ig's to get in if they need a little privacy?

    Ya know, a person could get reallly carried away and spend a bloody fortune on a ig-house.

    Elroy is snoozing hard under his red light. He looks like he should be snoring. I dont know how he is staying on his perch. His legs (all four) are stretched straighht out behind him and he has his head twisted around in some crazy angle! I would HURT the next morning if I slept like that.

    gotta go make some muffins, but I can handle that. I just need ya'll to hold my hand for all things lizard.

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