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Undoing Petstore Damage

Discussion in 'Green Iguanas' started by Aisuru_kitsune, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. So, basically I'm looking for any tips and advice on how to make my iguana more comfortable with my hand in his cage.
    Hello! I recently acquired an iguana. I've never owned an iguana before, but have experience with many other reptiles and have done extensive research. I'm fairly confident my iguana's enclosure and diet is more than acceptable.
    This particular iguana I got from a pet store. He was kept at the pet store for about 8 months and is only a little over a year old. When they got him into the pet store, he had health issues (such as worms and parasites) which meant he had to be medically treated for a while. This, combined with the stress of being kept at a pet store (constant hoards of people staring, small/poor living conditions with no hides) has made him relatively traumatized. I just really wanted to give him a good home... Lol
    It's been about two weeks that I've let him acclimate. He's become quite comfortable in his enclosure. He's very explorative and active; he demonstrates a lot of happy behaviors. He doesn't seem stressed at my presence, but as soon as I stick my hand in that cage he's on high alert.
    His position changes, he stands up tall and will tail whip me as I slowly attempt to feed him.
    The couple times I've held him because I had too, he was flighty and would squirm/whip up until I was actually holding him. Then, he would let me pet him, close his eyes, and seemed very comfortable. But, I haven't persued that because I don't want to have to chase him down in his tank to hold him. It doesn't seem right.
    So, basically I'm looking for any tips and advice on how to make my iguana more comfortable with my hand in his cage and build trust.
  2. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The running is a fear response and he isn't content when he closes his eyes after you manage to catch him. That is his way of dealing with the stress. If he can't see you, you aren't really there.

    We have an extensive care sheet (book) on iguanas located here: Green Iguana | Reptile Forums - Information

    Building trust will take some time. I would love to elaborate on this right now but have to be somewhere. I will try to return and give a longer answer when time permits.
    Kirzaka likes this.
  3. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    This is a wild animal as well as being a prey animal. It views you as a predator. slow down!
    It can take up to a year for an iguana to get comfortable with you.
  4. Ah, I see.. that's good to know! Thanks for your response. I look forward to your elaboration and will check out that link!
    Also, I'm aware it'll take a long time for him to be comfortable with me, I'm more just trying to reduce the stress of doing menial tasks like feeding him. Because, I'm worried the negative experience of me just feeding him and him attempting to tail whip me will do nothing but make him dislike me more and hurt the chances of him trusting me
  5. AmityReptiles

    AmityReptiles Well Established Member

    Start with just putting food in his cage, and nothing more. Just food in, close cage and stay by the cage while he eats (if he tolerates that), try not to stare him down In the eyes. Eventually he will associate you with food and nourishment and will get just a little happy to see you. Figure out what his favorite food is, and after he seems eager to see you come near to feed him, try and hand feed him his favorite food. Continue this to build trust. Eventually you can coerce him to eat in your hands, or on your lap. This is a big step for him to be comfortable enough with you to eat while in contact.
    Kirzaka and Aisuru_kitsune like this.
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Another thing you can do is drag a chair over and just sit by the cage reading or some such. Just ignore him and let him see you not being a threat.
    Staring straight at him is the action of a predator. You have to try and get in his head.
    Kirzaka likes this.
  7. This was great advice, thank you! I've tried doing this; I just move super slowly and anytime he starts to get antsy I freeze. The last two days he's climbed into my hand and ate out of my hand. Such a huge improvement and really is a great step in the right direction! I feel like this will be a crucial stepping stone in building a path of trust. Thank you!
  8. AmityReptiles

    AmityReptiles Well Established Member

    Good job and no problem! Sounds like you have the hang of it.

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