Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Living with and looking after a big alpha male iguana

It's now been four months since my big boy went into mating season and there's still no end in sight. I've been to the vet a few times. Luckily there wasn't an operation necessary, but his nose is still rather battered. Poor sod. He's also lost a lot of weight, but I watched him closely. You can tell they are underweight when the bones at the beginning of the tail, right over the legs, start to show or when the tail itself loses its strength. (See pictures left and right which show a healthy iguana)
I know my animal well and he's been active, still likes his snacks (blueberries, raspberries and bananas), so I wasn't too concerned. I provide fresh food for him several times a day. They won't touch old and wilted food, understandable, you wouldn't eat the stuff that has been sitting on the plate, in the warmth of your kitchen either, would you? Though, he has started to get his appetite back, which is a good thing, so I throw away less.
I also make sure he has fresh water daily (throughout the year), spray his enclosure regularly and he licks the water from the surface or directly from the sprayer.

His nose, though, is still swollen from jumping against the glass. I've covered the glass with an old sheet from inside, so he doesn't see his reflection anymore and he is much calmer. His lower jaw, as you can see in the picture to the left, is not healing as I'd like it to. If possible, I dab it gently with a self-made saline solution (Sea salt/Water), which disinfects and dries out, helping the process.
The best time to do it, is when he sleeps. Iguanas are rather sound sleepers. He'll half-wake and head-bob at me, even with his eyes closed.
Snout injuries are very difficult to treat, especially if the iguana is still in mating season and aggressive. I have found that he's reacting calmly if I wear a towel wrapped around my hair, like after having a shower. Then he won't attack me. Yesterday, though, it came off and a second later, he charged. He's a very weird little dragon. I spoke to the vet and will try a hormone-implant next year, before season starts and hope that'll calm him down. If that works I'll go for neutering. It's my last hope to be able to keep him as I've promise him and the old owners. If it doesn't help, I have no chance but to give him away, because it would be animal cruelty to keep him when he ends up injured. Unfortunately, the pet insurance won't pay for neither, the implant, nor the op, but if it helps him, it would help me. What's the point of having a beautiful animal like that when you can't even see him behind all the covers, or only when you wear a towel around your head?

Finally some head-bobbing action I've recorded today. He's a real alpha male and will do it every time he moves. His muscles are so strong, I can't hold his head still if he does it. Just to give you an idea.

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