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New Iguana, Could Use Some Help!

Discussion in 'Green Iguanas' started by Steveho73, Sep 19, 2008.

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  1. Steveho73

    Steveho73 Active Member

    I just adopted an adult iguana (I've had some iguana experience in the past but most of my reptile experience comes from beardies). The woman I adopted her from says she has had her for 7 years and got her from a pet store when she was very small. She told me her diet and its definately not what I have read is good for them. She said she likes yellow squash, scrambled eggs, pork from pork fried rice and loves pizza. She also feeds her adult iguana food. Not a very good diet at all and I will be changing that (slowly I'm sure since she is already used to certain things). She seems very fat to me; very solid body, good girth on her tail but her hands and feet seem awfully fat. I don't really see any signs of MBD in her head or tail, but I'm concerned about how her feet look. She told me that she never caged her and had a heat lamp over the couch where she would bask. I'm going to start working in ALOT more veggies making collards and mustard greens the staples. If anyone as any advice on changing a stubborn iguanas diet, please let me know.

    As you can see from the pic, she is red but her belly is green. The femoral pores seem small and are not protruding. I also do not see any secretions so she does in fact seem like a female. Do red iguanas have green bellies or do I in fact have a male on my hands in breading season?

    I will of course be taking her to a vet for a full checkup but I wanted to give her a week or so to get used to the new place and faces before another stressful journey.

    I have a very large cage already setup (somewhat like the ultimate iguana habitat) but she seems to have a tough time climbing the large branches in there (yes they are 1.5 times her size). I'm curious if this is due to her weight, messed up feet or super long nails that have never been cut. I plan to pull them all out and setup plywood ramps wrapped in rope for traction.

    Any help or suggestions would be great!

    Attached Files:

  2. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    If she is used to free roaming, you may have a problem with that. She may need an extra special large set-up, larger than our 4 x 6 x 6 foot suggestion we give. As for the diet, I'm always one for tough love.

    It worries me about the meat aspect. It can ruin her kidneys to have that much protein. A blood panel is in order and I'm glad you are taking her to the vet.

    Have our care sheet.

    Green Iguana Care Guide (Iguana iguana) - Reptile Information - Caresheets Database
  3. Moshpitrockchick

    Moshpitrockchick Subscribed User Premium Member

    I do believe iguanas can get gout or something similar from a rich fatty diet which would line up with the fact that she was fed such a horrible diet. That may explain the swelling of the feet.

    I personally wouldn't wean her off of the junk, I'd go with tough love right from the start, by feeding her junk you are doing further damage. Just put lots of colorful healthy things on her greens, the squash is a good start, toss in some berries, sweet potato or bell pepper to make it exciting.

    If you continue to feed the pellet food make sure it is softened by soaking it prior to feeding otherwise it will dehydrate her.

    I would strongly advise a full blood pannel on her, who knows what shape her kidneys are in after all of that protein.

    Does she have a UVB source?

    Lastly, welcome to a lifetime of iguana slavery. ;)
  4. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    Good job on saving this iguana from this woman who has no real idea how to keep an iguana. Good news is that the iguana is in better hands, the bad news is she has done a lifetime of damage to this poor iguana and at this point you can only hope for the best.

    Concerning the diet, IMMEDIATELY stop feeding the proteins and ONLY offer good, healthy greens, shredded veggies and SOAKED Adult Iguana food. Iguanas will not starve themselves to death. She will eat when she is ready. Just make sure it is offered everyday and fresh. The damage of the kidney and liver continue each time she eats proteins. Forget "stubborn", you need to be stubborn in getting her off that seriously unhealthy food!

    There is a condition of MBD called "Popeye arms". This is when the arms and feet swell up. If she has this, it is a sure sign of MBD. Immediately get her under a good quality UVA/UVB lamp (Welcome To ReptileUV - Mega-Ray® UVB lamps for reptile lighting worldwide) and make sure she gets at least 12 hours of exposure per day. If you don't already have a good UVB lamp, take her outside for 1 hour each day in the full sunlight. This is critical to arrest the MBD before it advances.

    She's big and she's orange, that's for sure. Many things cause the color change. I cannot really see well in the picture if she has male characteristics. Please post a better picture for us. "Red" iguanas can also be red due to organ failure (renal disease). So, it's important to determine if she is male or female and naturally red or sick.

    IMO, you need to find a qualified iguana Vet and get her in right away for a complete and proper assessment. Make sure you get bone density, blood panels and fecal float for parasites. I suspect after so many years of a terrible diet, she will have health issues. The sooner you know them, the sooner you can begin rehabilitation!

    MBD will effect her nervous system and it makes it hard for them to move around properly. Popeye limbs will make it that much more difficult. Remove all climbing things in the enclosure so she does not fall and hurt herself (if she has MBD, her bones are very brittle right now). Use ramps instead of branches for moving to different levels. Cut her nails! This may help her move better for the time being.

    I know I sound pretty dire in all of this, but with so many years of such a poor diet your iguana is in desperate need of help and proper care. The sooner you understand what she is challenged with, the quick you can help her recover.

    I look forward to more pictures.
  5. DollemanH

    DollemanH Elite Member

    FYI if you do soak your pellets try soaking them in flavored pediolite to help hydration. Those new bagged spring mixes they have in the produce section are excellent in that they offer a good variety of healthy and flavorful greens and always top it off with hibiscus flowers.

    PS. leave the nails long they will help her climbing and will ware down soon enough
  6. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    Good advise on the Pedialyte. Be careful of bagged mixes though. Nothing is better than good, green leafy greens (which are not usually in the bagged stuff). Bagged mixes can be used within the green salad to make it more enticing, but it adds relatively little nutritional value.

    In my experience with rehab, it's important to prevent the iguana from climbing. Too many try to climb on instinct and fall and break their backs or limbs. The poster states that the nails are "super long". Overgrown nails are a hinderance and should be clipped back. Also, if the iguana cannot climb (which is what he is indicating) then there is no way for the nails to wear down.
  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Welcome to HerpCenter! There are a number of us who are long time iguana keepers and we can help you with fine tuning your care. The fact that you are familiar with Hatfield's wonderful book shows us that you are headed in the right direction.
    You have gotten some great info so far but I thought I would throw my 2 cents in.

    Regarding the pellets,...I recommend the Rep Cal brand of pellets. Most others on the market are full of garbage. The Rep Cal are also colorful and fruity smelling which will attract your ig to the rest of the food. Use about 1/4 of a cup as a salad topper on the greens.
    I too advise to immediately cease with the animal protein and get started right away on the healthy greens based diet. Tough love indeed. The ig may act like it will starve itself trying to hold out for the other stuff. But she won't. You just have to be more stubborn than the iguana. And thats pretty stubborn!

    I would also advise against the use of the bagged mixed greens. Those are primarily lettuces and not what the ig needs.
    The ig does need to have its nails trimmed. Overly long nails are damaging to the feet, not to mention they make handling the ig something like wrestling with a weedeater!

    In order to make a qualified guess as to sex we need closeup pictures showing the head from several angles as well as closeups of the femoral pores and the base of the tail from several angles.
  8. Steveho73

    Steveho73 Active Member

    Thanks all for the great responses! I got her last night and she hasn't had any protein since. I always have collard and mustard greens on hand for my beardie (even though he's a juvie and pigs out on crickets and mealworms, he is actually pretty good about eating his greens!). As I said, I already have a very large cage and will remove all the large tree branches and replace with plywood tiers and ramps tonight. I hate to keep her locked in the cage as she has always been free to roam but I do understand the importance of getting her under proper lighting and getting the MBD cured. My last iguana I got was about 4 years old when I got him and began having seizures and had to be put to sleep (this was back in the early 90's and I had zero knowledge of proper lighting or even proper care at all). I currently have a Zoomed basking bulb for heat and 2 reptisun 10.0 48" bulbs about 16" from the basking spot (all are new). Is that good enough or should I replace the basking bulb with a mega-ray? I'm guessing a reptile can't "O.D." on uvb/uva rays.

    Dominick, you mentioned "popeye arms" which it seems is definately what she has. I have seen pics of bad MBD in heads and bodies and she seems fine in those areas. Her jaw is not deformed and is pretty solid. Also her body seems very strong. With proper lighting conditions, how long do you think it will take to cure any MBD problems she has? I know you won't be able to be specific but are we talking a month, 6 months, a year?

    Unfortunately that is the only pic I have of her right now but I will post some more this weekend.

    Thanks again for all your advice!
  9. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    If you go with the 10.0, it needs to be closer to them. The mega-ray puts out much more UVB than any tube and only has to be replaced once a year, instead of every six months. It also produces heat. Perhaps since you just got those new bulbs, when they go, replace with the megaray.

    And for the pedialite, its a good trick to hydrate frogs too, only we say the UN-flavored kind. Not sure if that's the same with iguanas, or if its even recommended.

    It sounds like you are really on the right track. Get that diet in line like you have started and keep him on track. Many Igs like bread or bananas, which are much better "treats" than pizza to get him to eat right.
  10. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    With flourescent tubes, anything over 12 inches away from the animal is basically useless. The UVB drops off dramatically the farther you get from the light source. 6-8 inches would be better. The megaray is much more powerful and an all around better choice particularly if you are trying to correct a problem.
    About the difference in output between a penlight flashlight and a police car's spotlight!
  11. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    Of course I recommend the Mega Ray EB MV Lamp Kit. It's the best lamp out there with the most useable UVB of any lamp. In addition, I would recommend you call ReptileUV and speak to Bob Mac. He's an extremely experienced iguana rehabilitator and he can give you very specific information on what to do, including the proper lamp set up. He taught me everything I know about rehabilitation.

    Popeye limbs can be an early sign of MBD. That's why it is so important to halt it now. Under proper lighting conditions and the proper diet, you should see improvement in the limbs in a month or so. The rest of it is anybody's guess. The damage to the internal organs has to be assessed first.
  12. Steveho73

    Steveho73 Active Member

    Note to self *Nice job dummy, ya just wasted $70!* Mega Ray is already on order. I thought I read somewhere that the 10.0 bulbs emit further then 12", guess I was wrong. Quick update, she has a vet appointment tomorrow morning.
  13. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    If you saved the boxes to the tubes, you can always return them. :) Or sell them on Craig's list too.
  14. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    Good job! Please make sure Bob knows that you have an iguana in Rehab. He needs to expedite the order for you. A simple phone call will help that along.

    If you read that the tube emit farther than 12", it's likely from the manufacturer's site. Problem is, they do emit past 12", but the UVB is so dimished, it's no good to the iguana.

    I agree with Liz, see if you can take them back. If not, store them as an emergency back up, or better yet, as a second basking spot you will need later if the iguana decides it wants to free-roam.
  15. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Or use them in your new anole enclosure!
  16. SurvivorSteph

    SurvivorSteph Subscribed User Premium Member

    Welcome to Herp Center. It sounds like you're on the right track already! You mentioned the Ultimate Iguana Enclosure... do you own the book? If not, I can mail you a copy. PM me your address, and I'll get one out to you.

    You seemed concerned that you're caging a once free-roaming iguana, but I think she'll be OK with that. She's transitioning into a new environment, and I think that having a place that is "hers" will help her with that transition.
  17. Lucysfriend

    Lucysfriend Elite Member

    I am not an ig owner but I just wanted to say that it's great that you are helping this poor creature. That woman really didn't know what she was doing and it's sad. Good job and good luck and keep us updated. I can't wait for more pics :)
  18. Steveho73

    Steveho73 Active Member

    Just got back from the vet and its not good at all. We spent $350 to have a full diagnosis done on her. The xrays revealed she has multiple fractures in her arms, ribs, feet and toes (also that she is loaded with eggs which was kinda cool to see on the xray, definately a girl!). They did blood work on her but won't have the results back until monday. Last night I removed everything from her cage and built tiered platforms with ramps which she seemed to do much better with getting around. Unfortunately with her weak bones, I have removed the ramps and platforms, lowered the lights and she will be confined to the bottom of the cage. She was given a calcium shot and I was given a prescription (can't find it anywhere here in tampa so the pharmacy is having to order it, its some kind of liquid calcium supplement). The vet wants to wait for the test results to come back before giving her any pain medication. Hopefully shes not in too much pain but with the fractures I saw, I don't see how she can't be :(

    The vet told me to not completely change her diet because she must eat but, while I don't disagree she must eat, I do disagree about her diet after all the feed back you guys have given me. We went out and got her baby food which I am adding powdered calcium and pedialite to and feeding her through a syringe. She's not happy with it but atleast I know she is getting nutrients. I had her out in the sun today for a little over an hour. I got one of those small plastic kiddie pools which she soaked in for a while.

    Dominick, thanks for the heads up, I will give Bob a call on Monday

    Merlin, I live in Tampa, there are about 100 of them outside on my house right now (and always a few dead ones as presents from the cats sitting at my front door!).

    Steph, thanks but I already have the book and have read the whole thing (great book btw!)

    It's been a pretty hectic day for her so I'm giving her some quiet time, I will update with more pics tomorrow.

    Thanks again for everyones help! Hopefully the wife and I can get her back in good health, she is just too sweet of an iguana to have to put to sleep (as I will not let her suffer).
  19. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Ugh, sounds like she is riddled with MBD and probably never had any special UVB or any supplements. Hopefully things can be reversed. And I don't know how you are, but I would be sending that lady a really big letter on how she doesn't know SQUAT on taking care of an iguana.
  20. Dominick

    Dominick Founding Member

    Greetings Steve-

    Well, unfortunately, it's just as I suspected. Good news is, she is in great hands now and has her best chance of recovery with you!

    I was afraid of the multiple fractures. Removing everything from the cage is the best bet. She needs confinement and massive UVB.

    Please be persistent in calling Bob. Leave messages on phone and e-mail. Tell him you are currently recovering an MBD iguana and need his help and guidance and an expedited lamp set-up. Use my name, whatever it takes to get him on the phone and talking to him (he's a really busy guy, but will take the time for a sick iguana).

    I'm not sure I agree with your Vet on the food issue. I understand he wants her to eat, but eating garbage will not help anything. I think I agree more with you force-feeding her. Bob will give you a recipe for slurry. It will contain all the things she needs to reverse the MBD. She'll need to be syringe fed for a while. ONE NOTE OF CAUTION: Be sure she is moving bowels regularly before feeding anything solid. We learned from bad experiences that nothing coming out means put nothing in! Slurry is best since it will contain a high amount of liquid. Things must keep moving in her system for it to be beneficial to her. Also, when syringe feeding, be sure you are squirting the food past the epiglottis (hole in the bottom of her mouth on the tongue). This is her breathing tube and if food gets in there it get into her lungs. Push the syringe completely to the back of her throat and then unload.

    Sunlight (especially in Florida) is the best "medicine" you can give her right now. The more the better. The sun is helping her metabolize Calcium and return it to her bone matrix, strengthening them. This is also why the Vet injected Calcium. Be VERY careful handling her right now. Additional fractures can happen with even the slightest pressure.

    Sounds like your Vet is pretty competent with reptile care. That, coupled with Bob's advice will give you more than you need to heal this poor girl and give her a better chance at life.

    You're a good man for taking on this poor girl and helping to turn her life around. When she comes out feeling better, I firmly believe iguanas recognize who helped them heal and they grow fond of that person.

    Good luck. My thoughts are with you.
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