Saturday, 30 October 2010

To buy or not to buy an iguana in the shop?

I'm upset, I must say, I really am.

So there's this person on a reptile forum, saying he'd seen a baby green iguana in a shop that is kept in bad conditions and that he's thinking about 'rescuing' it. Then, he goes and asks us what he should do and if we could give him some information on how we experienced ones keep our animals.

My initial reaction was to tell him not buy this animal in this shop, rather to go and report this shop for buying this little one would only result in the shop getting a new one that will be held in bad condition.
I'm against buying these animals in the shop in general, since they usually don't have the animal's best interest at heart but their money and every sold animal is cash in the books. They often don't give sound advice, warn people off or even worse: give bad advice.

Now, this guy who sought advice, wouldn't listen, at all. He went onto another thread  telling another guy he should 'rescue' this little guy in the shop because he looks well after his big boy. I nearly lost it there. Today, on the original thread, he asks again, if we really don't think buying this baby iguana in the shop would be a good idea.

No, it's not!

What angers me the most is that people obviously aren't capable of using google, since putting in 'green iguana keeping' gives you 110k results in 20 seconds and there you have it: a whole wide world of information. There, you will see that iguanas become huge, up to six feet, that they require a huge set up, that they can become rather unpleasant, what food they need and how old they become.

I wonder why people are not taking more responsibility before getting such an animal that's not the average cat, but an animal that requires knowledge, patience, willingness to learn, every day and certainly it requires quite a bit of money. Vets don't come cheap. I pay about 90 pounds per month for food and electricity/water and the vet bills were over 1200 pounds in six month this year. Two years ago, I paid 1200 for my female that sadly died after surgery.

I've got mine 'rescued' from a pair that wasn't allowed to keep it after they moved house. Something I don't understand either. If I can't move in with my animal, then I don't want this flat. Would they give their child away because the landlord doesn't like children?

And he was given to them because his former owner was surprised it grew. So in his young three years, he had to go through three new owners. Poor guy. At least, I know I'm going to keep him until he dies and that's hopefully a very long time until them. He bit me several times, brought me to the A&E, is aggressive and won't let me handle him, but I love him to bits and I would never even think of giving him away.

Almost every week I see ads of people who have to re-home their animals, the rescue centres are full of big adult males, given away because they became inconvenient, aggressive, large, owner moved house or countries. It's really really sad.
I wish people would make up their mind thoroughly before getting a pet like this and inform themselves, use the possibilities given, like google, books, whatever and if they then make this decision to get one, to be aware it's a decision for this animal's life.

So if you want an iguana, think hard! Then go and take one of those poor iguanas that sit in a rescue centre and could do with a loving home. They've usually been through enough, they deserve a good life.


  1. The only place you'd find an iguana in Australia would be a zoo. There are rules about which animals can be kept as pets. Even keeping an indigenous reptile requires a special license - and they're certainly not found in shops. Cats, dogs, rabbits, rats and mice, fish, and occasionally, spiders, is all that's on offer. (I guess the super rich may have smuggled in an exotic animal or two, but if they were caught, they'd be charged.)Boring? Maybe... But I guess it stops people buying animals they haven't a clue about. Jacqui Christensen

  2. Oh Hun, it is awful. And to Jacqueline - ANYONE can buy a horse / dog/ cat in Aus.... and know bugger all about keeping them. The pattern is the same - twats who 'think' they know what it takes to look after another living creature.
    I have long since realised all one can do is rescue as one can, help when asked and quietly work for a better understanding as one can.
    I still get angry about the amount of idiots out there who don't get it.
    But that's all one can do.

  3. Hi, Jacqui

    Well, that certainly does. But then, I think it's a little too harsh. There a lot of responsible keepers and they don't do any harm. It's the shops that concern me, unless we manage to breed at home and sell private and to the shops so that no iguana need to be shipped from their land of origin.

    I agree. That's one reason I want to start a rescue centre. To educate, give iguanas a good home, re-home where possible and try to raise awareness.

  4. Hi Nicole, Fifi,

    Yes, it is harsh. And Fifi, you're right. There are many neglected/abused animals in Australia. I guess, it would be fairest to allow a person to own an animal of their choice if, they can demonstrate they can meet the animal's needs. And the rest of the community is protected. (An Australian once opened the front door to see a zoo-escaped lion walking up their path.)

  5. Jacqui,

    To that I will toast. And they should commit to look after the chosen animals and only give them away when there is no other way to solve the situation.
    Shops should be banned from selling animals, there are too many abandoned during holiday season (dogs).
    Though I had to grin about the thought, opening the front door and beeing greeted by a lion. Now that's a different visitor :-)

  6. You're so right; it is a dreadful thing for someone to buy an animal and know nothing about its welfare. Being a farmer I am an animal lover (even if I do breed slaughter lambs!) but it really pains me when I hear of someone "wanting" a pet for the sake of it.

    CJ xx

  7. Hello, Crystal

    How very nice to see you :-)

    I don't blame a person who falls in love with a pet, I mean, it's how it happened to me. I saw the green iguana and fell in love. All warnings didn't put me off, but if there would have been a person to tell me there are many rescues waiting for a good home, or private breeders, I wouldn't have gone for the shop. But 16 years ago, internet wasn't so popular and I didn't know about this all until I read books and did a hell of a lot of telephone calls.

    Reptiles often are kept by people who think they are cool. Yes, they are, but they are also living creatures that demand a lot of knowledge and if they need a reptile to feel better, they should invest in a proper psychologist to help them. You guys have no idea what I've seen at the vets.

    And breeding lamb for slaughter is absolutely fine, people eat lamb and I'm very sure you look after them well. That's another topic, too. I, for instance, buy only organic or free range meat since I don't agree with the low standards of some farms. I'm shocked that this is still allowed.

  8. I know it sounds daft but I do love the lambs! It isn't a nice thing
    To witness them being driven away to market but it helps us survive!

    I know, I know, being a sheep farmer and an animal lover does sound
    Somewhat contradictory but as I have 4 adorable sheep dogs I'd like to
    Think I'm not such a bad person!!

    K xx

  9. Crystal,

    I don't think it's contradict. You love them so much, you give them all they need in their short life. We all love our animals and still eat a lot of meat, me included.
    It's your profession and I believe farming can be rewarding if people taste the difference between shop-bought and free range.

    You're not a bad person. There's people that torture their animals, knowingly and sometimes, unknowingly. Both is wrong, because it's not necessary.