Please see "Napoleon's Rescue" for the beginning of this story....
In the first 15 minutes of arriving in our home we had the gnashing, thrashing tail whipping iguana in the tub in lukewarm, chest deep water. We wanted to rinse the mites off as best as we could and get some fluids into him if possible. Boy was he ever feisty! I took that as a good sign. :)
His home during his first 3 months consisted of a 50 gallon tank. I know that was way too small for him but we wanted to accurately monitor his eating and defecation, and it is much easier to keep an ill iguana at proper day time temps 24 hours a day in a tank enclosure.
Ideally an iguana's enclosure should be twice as long as he is, twice as high as he is long, and at least as deep as he is long. Since an adult iguana can grow to approximately 5 to 7 feet in length we are realistically talking about a cage that is 10 feet long, 8 feet high, and very deep too. It is not uncommon for an iguana keeper to simply set up a room in which the iguana may free roam. A den or small bedroom would do nicely and can be set up with branches, trees to climb on, UVB fluorescent lights, human heating pads set on low to warm up on, and basking lights, and a large water basin. All strategically placed in areas that the iguana likes to hang out in order to maximize each heating, lighting or basking items use. The food dish, and perhaps a small water dish for the iguana to drink from, should also always be placed in the same area, and in an area in which the iguana is likely to be able to see it well and access easily. Since iguana's are tree climbers and prefer to be high up, the food dish might be placed securely on a favourite branch.
His enclosure was lined with newspaper- and the paper was changed daily whether it was soiled or not. We did not want any re-occurrence of the red mites. We also wanted to keep his home as clean as possible since we knew he was recovering from a severe illness. He didn't have any branches to climb on for the first two months either because we didn't want any mites getting into his cage furnishings and laying eggs! We never did see any mites again so I think that first bath must have rinsed them off of him. We were so lucky!
If you have a problem with mites or ticks please see the mite and tick eradication page.
He had a large Tupperware water dish in one corner- not quite large enough to soak his body in but definitely large enough to get portions of his body wet if he choose to do so. The water dish was also there in case he chose to have a drink. Water was changed every day.
His lighting and heating consisted of a UVB fluorescent tube (vitalight) 10 inches above him with no glass or plastic between Napoleon and the light, a 50 watt basking light on one side of the enclosure, and a human heating pad set on low under one side of the tank. We kept him at day time temperatures (88 F or 31 C ) 24 hours a day in order to boost his immune system for about two months and then we kept him a regular temperatures- 80 F to 88 F (23 C - 31 C), with a basking area of 95 - 100 F (35 - 38 C) and Night time temperatures of 74 - 80 F (23 - 27 C).
His specialized daily care consisted of being put on Melissa Kaplan's iguana salad immediately. I'm sorry to say he really didn't take to this right away ... but we kept trying until he eventually started eating well (3 months later). Due to his severely emancipated state we mixed some strawberry ensure into his food (and gave him some by needless syringe as well). The only way he would really eat for us in the first few months was if we hand fed him. This is not a good habit to get in to! But I still feel we had to do this with Napoleon. We also gave him several cc's of extra fluids- namely 1 part orange Gatorade to 1 equal part water. Gatorade is full of electrolytes so it is a wonderful fluid to offer anorexic, sickly or dehydrated animals, but please don't give it full strength as it is too strong that way.
Please visit my iguana salad page for a complete description of Napoleons regular diet, and a recipe that you should be feeding to your own iguana. :)
In addition to maintaining him at proper temperatures, and feeding him a well balanced diet his specialized care also consisted of a visit to a reptile vet three days after we brought him home.
We brought along a fresh stool sample for parasite testing, luckily his was negative! One less problem to worry about! We had hoped that our Vets would draw some of his blood and test it to see what his calcium and phosphorus levels and ratio's were, plus test other things like uric acid and liver function tests too. Our vets were not very optimistic about his chances for survival and decided against drawing blood- partly due to his dehydrated status, and poor condition, and partly to save us what they believed would be an unnecessarily expense at that time. It was very clear that he'd had very poor care in the months leading up to our rescue and that his calcium levels were probably not good. We were told to get fluids into him and to give him extra daily doses of liquid calcium. We were already doing both. And then to wait and see if he improved from there.
There were two abscesses that we were very concerned about. One was about 4 inches from the end of his tail, and the other was his second toe on his left front foot. Our vets were unsure of Napoleon's kidney function at that time and didn't not want to put him on antibiotics that might harm his kidneys ... so we were left to apply topical treatments to his wounds and abscesses, maintain day time temperatures for him 24 hours a day in order to boost his immune system, and hope for the best.
Starting with the day we brought Napoleon home his specialized care consisted of:
Napoleon eventually lost half of one toe on his left front foot (about two weeks after his arrival) and 4 inches of his tail (about 4 weeks after his arrival) where the abscesses had been. So by October '96 he was only 26" long!
As you can see, Napoleons rehabilitation was lengthy and time consuming. It took approximately 3 months of intense daily care before he really started to take off on his own and improve dramatically. I must have spent about 2 hours a day caring for him in the first 3 months. Needless to say bonding and taming took place during this time.
At this time, October, 99, Napoleon has reached a size of 58.5 inches in total length, and now weighs approximately 9.2 pounds! He is 18" snout to vent, and continuing to grow at a rapid pace! He is not a well rounded iguana, but he does have some meat to him. I believe he hasn't filled out quite as much as he should have due to the excessive amount of growth that he has been going through since October of 96.
If you want to read the rest of Napoleon's story continue on to "Free Roaming and Napoleon Now"! Or, perhaps you might want to read my views on Taming an iguana and Aggressiveness during breeding season?
Back to Napoleon the Iguana's Home page
Iguanas for Dummies
By Melissa Kaplan!!!! 384 pages of in depth iguana care information. So, you wanna iguana. Or you already have one. Now what? This fun and friendly guide gives you expert advice on selecting an iguana and taking care of your fascinating pet throughout its life. It provides valuable tips on diet, habitat, health, and other important iguana issues.
Green Iguana; The Ultimate Owner's Manual by James W., III Hatfield
The best book on green iguanas to come along in years. Information on diet, housing, and health, wonderful insights into iguana psychology and iguana-human interaction. The definitive work on management, care and personality traits of green iguanas in captivity. If you own a green iguana or if you are thinking of getting one, you should buy this book.
The Green Iguana Manual by Philippe De Vosjoli
Basic information about the care of the Green Iguana. Outdated nutritional information.
The Iguana : An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet by Karen Rosenthal
Up-to-date reptile information and ownership instruction. The Iguana covers everything from selecting an ectotherm and understanding its environmental needs to discussions on behaviour and a glossary of relevant terminology.
Iguana Iguana : Guide for Successful Captive Care by Fredric L. Frye
A new and expanded edition, devoted exclusively to the green iguana, based on the author's previous publication, Iguanas: A Guide to their Biology and Captive Care. Includes b&w; illustrations and 24 pages of colour plates. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.
Mar, 19, 2010
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How to Contact me
Napoleon's Photo Gallery
Napoleon The Iguana's Home Page
Napoleon's Rescue - Iguana Care
Napoleon's Rehabilitation - Iguana Care
Free Roaming and Napoleon Now- Iguana Lizard Care
IGUANA CARE BASICS- 101
Should I get an Iguana or a Water Dragon?
Frequently Asked Questions about Iguanas
Taming of new Iguana
Taming an Iguana and aggressiveness during breeding season - Iguana Care
Iguana Salad - Iguana diet
Iguana or a Water Dragon?
Choosing a Reptile Vet