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Becoming “Auntie” to 19 Reptiles by Pam Bickell

It wasn’t easy becoming “Auntie” to Ms. Powers’ reptiles. After all, I was a mammal-gal and the closest I’d been to a reptile was loving the little green lizards our Mom bought my brothers and me at the fair in the 60s.

But Elaine needed someone to care for her 19 reptiles when she travels and mentioned it to me. I needed to work, and I’ve always been curious about and loved animals, so we set an appointment to meet them. I was nervous.

16 salad plates to feed to reptiles on a kitchen counter
Expert salad maker, am I!

We came around a corner into the room where two iguanas live: Chile and Calliope. Calliope is a four-year-old green iguana and at the sight of me, she hit every side of the cage, rocking it, apparently attempting a quantum leap to anywhere but the same room as me.

“Well, okay then,” I said. “Thanks for trying.”

“No, no. Hold on,” Elaine said. “She does that sometimes when she is startled. Give her a minute.”

We waited and she did calm down—but to this day, when I open her cage door to place her breakfast salad, she gives me the Calliope-glare and raises her tail just a bit to let me know that she is watching every move. She has never hit me with her tail, but my first couple of times caretaking, she did whip it in my direction. Still, I am the human who feeds her delicious salads when Elaine is away and she knows this. (Delicious salads are my love-bribe.)

I had so many questions when I became caregiver to Elaine’s beloved tortoises and iguanas:

Do they bite?

The iguanas might and it’s very painful, SO DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN.

You take the iguanas out of their cages to climb and wander. Will they try to escape when I’m here?

They’ll be a bit shy at first, but yup. 

Oh, dear.

Just be observant. Watch the legs for ‘springing’ action. Don’t open the doors then.

What if I think one of them is ill?

Call me right away. I’ll leave the vet contact info on the table. If, Fates forbid, one of them should die, you will have to remove the body from the cage, put it in a plastic bag and into the freezer in the garage.

But, that won’t happen, right? And how in the world would I get them to the vet?

Probably not. And in a carrier.

Oh, dear.

They’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. Don’t worry.

And we have been fine. Blue has escaped from his cage twice, and let me just say that when I stepped into the reptile room the first time and saw Blue on TOP of Rascal’s cage, I panicked. And I couldn’t get a hold of Elaine. Then I remembered I was the caregiver and I had to figure this out.

an adult male blue iguana hybrid standing on top of a cage
This is magnificent Blue. Looking pretty pleased with himself, isn’t he?

So I sat on Rascal’s cage near Blue and put my hand on his back. I petted him. I had touched him inside his cage before, but never like this. He climbed on my lap and licked me! (He has the sweetest little pink tongue.) And I must’ve jumped six inches off the cage! I apologized to Blue and then noticed his cage. He’d apparently chewed a hole in the side and it was not a big hole. I checked his skin and nothing was torn. I was wondering what to do, when I saw these little bungee cords.

I rolled Blue’s cage next to Krinkle’s cage and bungeed them together against the hole-side. Elaine called and actually laughed at me for being scared, and then proceeded to tell me where a sheet of plexiglass was to put against that same side of the cage. Then there was the matter of getting Blue back into his cage. Long claws grabbing cage bars beat my muscles, all day every day, so it took a while, but I finally got him back inside.

a close-up of an iguana's foot
See what I mean?

Everyone knows me now. I’ve given Myrtle, a Red-foot tortoise a bath, and helped Ezra, the older green iguana, go to the bathroom. I give Stella her medicine in an orange slice every day. I have to hunt for the tortoises every morning to give them their salads and though you wouldn’t think they can disappear, they can! (And, Trevor, the turtle, who can climb up the screen door.) And they hide their food plates sometimes. The tortoises stand on my feet when they want to say hello.

I am an occasional visitor, but I am loved, well at least accepted, by a whole bunch of reptiles, whom I absolutely adore in return.

We never know where life is going to take us, do we?

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C’mon, Chile, Chow Down! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A orange colored green iguana, in a cage, hiding behind a log, with a food dish of green leaves
Someday, I’ll catch Chile eating!

As a human companion to my reptiles, I want to know that they are eating well and, hopefully, enthusiastically. Quite often, a new or young reptile, such as my green iguana, Chile, is not comfortable being observed while eating. The only way I can tell that Chile has successfully consumed her meal is by looking at the empty bowl, without vegetables scattered about the enclosure.

I can understand a prey animal’s reticence about being observed eating. The iguana might be susceptible to a predator if not careful. So, it’s best to eat when no one is watching, and return quickly to a place of safety. Of course, inside the enclosure is a pretty safe place, but the iguana doesn’t always know this, especially when another larger iguana (like my Calliope) climbs up and sits on top of it. 

Yet, with patience and perseverance, the stalking photographer can eventually catch the elusive eating iguana in the act!

An all-around lover of lizards, big and small, Elaine A. Powers is the author of the Curtis, the (perfect) Curly-tail Lizard book series.

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Lights, Camera, Action! By Elaine A Powers, Author

Continued from My Iguanas Got the Commercial, Not Me

a yellow iguana on top of a blue iguana, on a table with rocks and plants
Algae and Jubby starring in How to Make a Green Iguana Commercial

Once the situation had calmed down from the Jimmy debacle, the director asked me what iguanas should be used. I started with my first and well-socialized iguana, Noel.  I took her out of her carrier and placed her on the table. She immediately tried to leap off and back to the carrier. Despite her willingness to be the star of talks and parades, Noel didn’t want anything to do with filming.

That left us with Algae and Jubby, both very calm iguanas. Jubby was bigger so I placed her on the table,  where she sat quietly. So far, so good. I placed Algae on top of her, as if they were mating. (If they had been mating, Algae would have been farther up Jubby’s neck, but this was acting, so Algae’s position was acceptable.) We all held our breath and Jubby and Algae held their positions.

This was going to work—in 15-second segments, because then each iguana went her own way, flipping up a bit of moss each time. I moved to replace the dislodged articles, but the scenic designer had that under control.  Over and over again, I placed Algae on top of Jubby and each time they stayed while the director  moved the camera on rails behind them. Everyone was fascinated by these wonderful, incredible creatures. This went on for three hours and the director was very pleased.

The Corazon Tequila commercials were made to introduce different drink recipes. Jubby and Algae were the stars of, “How to Make a Green Iguana.” Not only were the iguanas consummate performers, they were also the right colors for the ad. One iguana was supposed to be blue and the other yellow. Jubby was a dark bluish-green color and Algae had always been yellow-green. This made it easy for the digital technician to further color them the appropriate shades.

The commercial starring my girls was aired nationally and was very popular with the viewers. I was paid a set amount for their participation. Next time I think I’m going to ask for residuals. 😊

A 30-page Supplemental Workbook on Iguanas for grades 2-4 is available from Lyric Power Publishing.

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My Iguanas Got the Commercial–Not Me by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Along with science, I enjoy performing, singing and acting. I always toyed with the idea of getting an agent, but it simply never happened. And despite all my performances, it was my iguanas who ended up with the acting agent. 

I lived in New Jersey at the time with several pet green iguanas. Corazon Tequila was filming four commercials, two of which would feature live animals. An educational program in the town up the road got a call to use one of their iguanas, Jimmy.  The owner suggested that my iguanas would be more suited to the work, since they were well socialized. The director, however, really wanted to give Jimmy, a magnificent full-sized male, a chance. I was asked to bring Jimmy and my own iguanas, as well.

I selected Noel, Algae and Jubby, my most friendly and cooperative girls. I got permission from my supervisor to take the day off. The owner of a macaw picked us up early in the morning for the trip into Manhattan to a real film studio. I had each iguana in a separate pet carrier for easier transporting, which turned out to be a good thing as we wound our way through the building to where the commercials were produced. We were settled into the green room to wait our turn before the cameras. It was 8:00 a.m.

a grreen iguana posing on concrete
Jimmy was a magnificent Green Iguana like this guy.

I decided to explore the facility. I had been in television and radio studios before, but never an actual movie studio.  An incredible buffet was set out for the crew. Off in one area, a man was creating a delicious looking margarita with non-edible ingredients. People were either very busy or waiting around. I returned to the green room to wait my turn. 

The green room had doors so after a while, I let the iguanas out of their carriers. They each found a place on the back of the sofa and hung out. The macaw sat in her cage beside the owner. Time ticked by and I had to use the rest room.  I asked the macaw man to watch my igs while I was gone and he agreed. I made a quick trip, but when I got back, he told me never to leave my igs alone. They had panicked when I left the room! The next time I needed to use the restroom, I took them all with me.

a colorful macaw parrot squawking in a cage with gray-patterned wallpaper in the background
The Macaw from the Corazon Tequila Commercial

The macaw’s appointment was first and off she went. Each commercial had a desired script. Unfortunately, the macaw hadn’t read the script. She just wouldn’t do what they wanted. Over and over the director tried—but nope. So, they changed the script and recorded what the bird was doing. It worked out well, but it did take ALL morning.

While we continued to wait, a hand model came into the room. He was doing a final manicure of his nails. We talked about the iguanas—they are always a conversation starter—but I wouldn’t let him near my igs. These are animals known for their scratching and biting prowess and I didn’t want to destroy his career! A little while later he went off to have his hand filmed picking up that fake, but tasty looking, margarita.

In the afternoon, it was finally our turn. The four iguanas and I proceeded to the set. A table was set with rocks and moss in front of a blue screen. I was introduced to the animal welfare officer, who was on the set to ensure no harm came to the animals. The irony of this will become clear in the next paragraph.

I suggested using two of my females, but the director really wanted to give Jimmy a try. I really tried to talk him out of it but as they say, actions speak louder than words. Jimmy was a six-foot iguana who was not socialized. He know how to use his four-foot tail effectively. I cautiously picked Jimmy up to place him on the table. As soon as his feet hit the table, he exploded. Thrashing iguana body, flying rocks and moss bits, with the startled crew scattering.

As Jimmy launched himself, I caught him mid-air and deftly placed him back into his carrier. Of course, I had received a severe shredding, but that can happen when you handle lots of large, tree-dwelling lizards. The animal welfare person was concerned about my bleeding arms and insisted the production stop while I received first aid. Despite assuring him I was fine, that is what we did and this gave the crew a chance to rebuild the scenery on the table.

To be continued on Friday. 😊

A 30-page supplemental Study Guide about Iguanas for grades 2-4 is available from Lyric Power Publishing.

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Kismet and the Pink Dog Shirt by Susan Glynn Mulé, Author

a lizard, a Ctenosaura similis, on a pink bed, surrounded by green plants and a pink leaf
Little Moira on her first pink bed.

Moira, my tiny Ctenosaura similis, has her first pink princess bed. Well, it is pink and it is a bed, but it doesn’t say “Princess” or have a little crown on it like Kismet’s old one did. Of course, it is a bed designed for tiny dwarf hamsters and cost all of $2.49, so I guess I can’t expect much, right?   

I know this will sound crazy, but Kismet, my cherished rock iguana, loved the color pink, especially bright, bold hot pink. From a scientific perspective, it likely reminded her of the delicious hibiscus flowers she so enjoyed. But she chose pink dog beds and pink blankets and stole the dogs’ pink toys.  Let’s face it—there was nothing scientific at all about Kismet. 

But back to pink. It’s important that you know I did not dress up my lizard every day and I never, ever forced her to wear the little costumes and outfits.  I was accused of this by a few individuals who really did not understand Kismet. As if anyone could force a half-grown Cyclura to do anything, anyway! Would I really be stupid enough to try to compel an animal with over 120 razor sharp teeth and a tail that can whip with the power to possibly break a limb to put on a pink dog shirt? Nope.

For reptile shows and school presentations, she was often decked out in a pink princess dog shirt. She even had a ruffled skirt for the first episode of my daughter’s short-lived YouTube series, where the scenes opened with my daughter and Kismet having a princess tea. Kismet’s unexpected death and my husband’s abrupt terminal cancer diagnosis that same summer deflated all our enthusiasm for putting that show together. The  final nail in the coffin for the series was when our filmographer moved away. Four or five episodes aired, but the rest never made it to final editing, which is really a shame because the show was adorable. When Kismet first died, my daughter considered continuing with Kismet’s mate, Sebastian. Then we found out about Mike’s cancer and . . . well, it just wasn’t in the cards.

Kismet loved people and she loved riding in the car, and she had already stolen several pink dog toys from our greyhounds, when a friend and I took Kismet for a ride. We stopped at this cute little pet shop on the way home. I walked around the store carrying Kismet and suddenly heard screaming. A woman was yelling something about an alligator in the store. It took me a minute to realize she meant Kismet. I tried to explain that she was a harmless rock iguana from the Caymans, but the woman remained unconvinced. The clerk told me not to worry about it, but I did worry, because this was very bad PR for the reptile community. Her reaction is an example of why so many people post on social media that we have a responsibility not to bring our reptiles out in public. But, is that really fair? Some people are afraid of dogs, but no one tells dog owners to keep their pets home. I did not want anyone to be upset by Kismet’s presence, but I also did not want to leave the store before I had finished shopping. I was in a store that welcomed animals, including my scaly princess.  


a rock iguana in a hot pink dog t-shirt on a white blanket, eating a green leaf
Kismet wearing her hot pink dog t-shirt.

I looked up and saw a rack of dog t-shirts. There was a hot pink sleeveless t-shirt that would fit Kismet. I walked over, bought it and put it on her right there in the store. Not only did she not object—she seemed downright pleased.  She crawled up to where her front paws were on my shoulder and she could see behind me. With her body stretched up, her hot pink t-shirt was clearly visible.

“Excuse me.” 

I turned around and saw the lady who had screamed a few minutes before. I bristled, but she seemed calm enough now.

“Yes?” I asked politely. “Were you talking to me?” 

She nodded and took a tentative step forward. “That’s such a cute little animal. I was wondering what she is.”

Sarcasm played at the edges of my lips. “The same animal you thought was an alligator and freaked out about, right over there.”  I didn’t say it, even though I wanted to. Instead, I smiled. “She’s a rock iguana from the Cayman Islands.” 

“She’s very sweet.”  The lady looked her up and down, her gaze going back and forth from Kismet’s face to the hot pink t-shirt. “Can I touch her?”

 I nodded and repositioned Kismet with my hand under her chest. “Yes, “ I said. “Of course.”

The woman petted the t-shirt first and when Kismet only cocked her head, she moved her hand down to Kismet’s side below the bottom of the t-shirt. “Ohhhhhh,” she said, “she feels like upholstery fabric.”

I laughed. I had heard that a number of times. “I guess she kind of does.” 

She asked more questions and I answered them. By the time she left, she knew about the endangered Cyclura lewisi and how, at that time, there were very few left in the wild. By the time she left, she knew about the International Reptile Conservation Foundation and the Blue Iguana Recovery Program. She had listened with fascination, petting Kismet the entire time.

All because of a hot pink dog shirt.

A rock iguana on a pink Princess bed near a window, covered in a pink blanket.
Kismet on her Princess bed, enjoying the view out the window.

After that, Kismet wore that shirt, and others that followed, every time we left the house. Every place we went, people asked questions and asked to pet her. Never again did we have anyone act afraid or scream “alligator.” Instead, we were often able to educate people on the iguanas of the Cyclura genus and various conservation efforts to save them. Kismet, for her part, got to be petted and fawned over.  People can think what they want, but anyone who ever watched Kismet being petted and fawned over could tell she enjoyed it. And when the cameras came out . . . well, that is a whole other blog post.

Moira is much too small for even the tiniest dog t-shirt. Even if they made t-shirts for mice, I think they would be a bit too large. And, of course, I do not know if she would take to them with the same enthusiasm that Kismet did, or the dignified resolve of Sebastian (who has his own set of costumes). 

For now, though, Moira is sitting in her tiny pink bed, looking rather pleased with herself.  

Susan Glynn Mulé is the author of Princess Tien.

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The Story of One Tough Iguana: Demo, by Elaine A. Powers, Author

iguana resting on a branchHaving an iguana rescue, I met a lot of iguanas. Some came from people who couldn’t or didn’t want to care for them. (Iguanas come with a lot of responsibilities.) I also received calls about iguanas who had been found in leaf piles, in the middle of the road or worse, from NJ and PA.

One day, I received a call from a crew demolishing a building. They had found an iguana who had been left behind in a tank. Think about that. This iguana had been abandoned long enough for the building to be condemned , for the permits for its demolition to be obtained, and for a crew to be sent over to knock it down.

When the man arrived at my door with the iguana in a box, I didn’t have much hope. The large lizard was listless and very thin—starved—and covered in mud. I didn’t expect it to survive overnight. Sometimes all you can do for an animal is give it a safe place to die in peace, not worrying about predators.

I washed the iguana, gave him a warm, comfortable place, with food, if he wanted. The next day, he was alert and ready to eat and drink! I named him Demo, short for demolition. Demo recovered amazingly quickly and became quite socialized. The young man who had brought him to me came by to check on him and asked to adopt him. I happily agreed. His twin brother adopted his own iguana from me a little while later.

I meet truly wonderful people because of iguanas.

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Kismet: The Love of my Little Dinosaur, by Susan Glynn Mulé, Author

My mood was dark. My birthday had just passed. It had been another birthday alone and it would be another set of holidays alone. Not alone in the sense of not being with anyone. Thanksgiving had been a lovely celebration at the home of my daughter’s future in-laws and I had felt totally at peace. But still a certain loneliness.

The day before my birthday, my daughter, her fiancé and I had attended a Knights of Columbus Memorial where, for the fourth year in a row, my late husband’s name would be called. Could it really have been my fourth birthday since he died? I thought about what he might have given me. Roses, of course — and dinner at our favorite little Italian place. There would probably have been something tangible as well; an article of clothing or earrings perhaps. He would have ordered me wine, smiled, and taken my hand across the table.

a Ctenosaura similis iguana on furniture
Moira, a Ctenosaura similis iguana

Trying to brush my sadness away, I open the cage sitting on the chest of drawers in my living room. I place my hand inside and little Moira climbs down from her branch and settles on my hand. I study her intently – all 16 grams of her. Perched on my fingertips, I marvel at how tiny she is.  And I wonder: How is it that my heart is so stirred by such a tiny creature whom I barely know? How is it that holding this tiny creature has just turned my day around and cast a ray of sunlight into my dark mood? I have only had her a month, this tiny Ctenosaura similis that I brought home from IguanaFest, despite reminding myself again and again that I did not need another lizard. She cocks her head, looking up at me and there is so much depth to her gaze – as if she is looking into my very soul. Only one other lizard has ever looked at me quite this way. Kismet. Kismet, who will always be loved and never be forgotten…

It had been another horrible day. It wasn’t long after my father’s unexpected death and our daughter was away, probably spending the night at a friend’s house and I did not have my motherly duties to distract me from my sorrow. All I can remember is feeling as though the earth had been pulled from beneath my feet so that my stomach lurched and my head ached. I was lying across the old worn couch that had been my husband’s grandmother’s. It had looked like new when he brought to our Texas home from Norco, Louisiana. One year in our house, with animals jumping on it and a plethora of roving teens plopping on it, and it looked every bit of its ninety years. It smelled old and the dampness from my tears accentuated the musty odor. I had been crying for what felt like a century. I could hear the clicking of the keyboard as my husband, Michael, worked in the other room. He had been unable to console me and had abandoned the task and returned to working on his project. I knew he ached at not being able to help me and I felt guilty for pushing him away — which only made me cry all the harder.

hand of a nine-pound iguana
Kismet’s hand.

When I opened my eyes, I could see Kismet under her basking light. She was perched on the shelf we built for her. Her head was cocked. She was studying me. I closed my eyes again and returned to my tears. The kerflump of her body hitting the floor as she jumped down from her roost and the click of her toenails on the floor until she reached the carpet opened my eyes again. I watched as she moved toward the couch. She cocked her head again, and then jumped up into the space between my body and the edge of the couch. Snuggling close to me, she reached over and with her right paw, gently stroked my cheek with her claws. The touch was more soothing, more calming, than I would have thought possible. A wave of affection for this nine-pound lizard washed over me and I stroked her back. As I marveled at the intuitiveness of my little dinosaur, a slow smile found its way to the corners of my mouth – and even to my eyes.

Michael, who also heard the kerflump and the clicking toenails stood in the doorway between the office and the living room and just watched as I scratched the scales along both sides of Kismet’s spines. He smiled slightly, shaking his head.

a nine-pound iguana on tile floor
The beloved and loving Kismet

“How did she know to do that?” he asked.

I shook my head. “I have no idea.”

He crossed over and sat down next to us. He stroked Kismet under the chin and looked at me. “No one is ever going to believe this, you know.”

I smiled at him. “I know.” I paused and looked into his warm and gentle brown eyes. “I’m sorry, I pushed you away, Mike. I was just too far away to let you in.”

“It’s okay,” he said, reaching over and stroking my cheek in the exact same spot as Kismet had. “I’m just glad she brought you back.”

I look back down into Moira’s soulful eyes. The expression is the same. Moira’s tiny tongue licks my fingertip, perhaps hoping that I have a tasty morsel. I don’t, but she licks my fingertip again and cocks her head to look at me. Her tiny claws wrap around my fingertip. I look back down into her soulful eyes that are so different — and yet somehow so very familiar.

No, I did not need another lizard. But I needed this one.

Susan Glynn Mulé is the author of Princess Tien: A Mountain Horned Dragon Tale.

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Iguana Lost in Parcel Post! The Story of Lucky Blue Lazarus , by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Having an iguana rescue meant access to a lot of iguanas, just for the taking. But there was one type of iguana I really wanted that I could only find through buying: a hybrid Cayman Blue iguana. Only a hybrid, because it is illegal to own pure-bred blue iguanas.  I wouldn’t want to take one out of its natural environment, anyway.

The story was that the two parental species, one Rock iguana and one Cayman Blue, had accidentally created the hybrids. Very fortuitous for the pet trade.  Another version is the hybrids were made specifically for the pet trade.

Either way, I wanted one.  I contacted a breeder and put my name on his list. Rock iguanas only lay a few eggs, so supply does not meet the demand. But I was lucky and was soon told I would be receiving one of the four hatchlings. I lived in NJ and the breeder lived in California, and he would send the baby iguana in an overnight express package. I prepared the hatchling’s enclosure. I was eager to meet my new family member.

The next day, no delivery. Okay, maybe he sent it second day delivery. But, the second day, still no delivery. I contacted the breeder and yes, the iguana had been sent overnight to the correct address. I contacted the postal service and yes, they had received the box, but had no idea where it was. I called a series of offices trying to track the whereabouts of the iguana. The box had been insured so we could file a claim, but I wanted my baby. I didn’t want the iguana to perish trapped inside a shipping box.

Every day I called. Every day they had no idea where the iguana was. I spoke to my friends who were employees in my town’s post office.  They were equally upset by the missing package and would do everything they could to help. With each passing day, I grew more distressed and vowed I would never ship another animal.

Meanwhile the country was in the grip of snowstorms. Snow, ice and cold temperatures were making it one of the most dangerous Thanksgiving weekends in recent memory. My baby iguana was out there in it. On the eighth day I got a call from my post office friends. The box had arrived! It had been put in parcel post instead of express, although it was properly labeled. But what of the precious cargo? The box was quickly cut open and the body of a small rock iguana was revealed. The iguana didn’t move.

Elaine Powers holding large rock iguana hybrid
Elaine Powers at home with the lovable hybrid iguana, Blue.

“Oh no, it’s dead,” said one of the postal workers.

“No, look at its eyes,” said the other.

Sure enough, Blue opened his eyes! I am happy to say that Blue, short for Lucky Blue Lazarus, completely recovered from his ordeal and today is a very large, easygoing rock iguana hybrid. I take him to schools and outreach programs to teach children and adults alike about reptiles.

A last note: Recently I had an iguana sent to me via USPS. The iguana traveled from New York to Arizona in less than 24 hours. I was very impressed by the care given to that iguana.

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The Nictitating Membrane Protects the Eyes in Some Animals, by Elaine A. Powers, Author

I mentioned in a previous post that my pet green iguana, Stella, has high blood pressure, which is the cause of a swollen nictitating membrane on her right eye. What is a nictitating membrane? Do people have one?

The swollen eye of a green iguana with high blood pressure
High blood pressure reflected in Stella’s eye

Nictitating comes from the Latin word nictare, which means “to blink.” Blinking provides moisture to the eye and protects it from irritants.

That’s what the nictitating membrane, an inner eyelid, provides to the eyes of several kinds of animals, such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and even some mammals. Most mammals only have a vestigial remnant, but aquatic mammals such as polar bears, manatees, and beavers use their full membranes like goggles.

Nictitating membranes can be transparent or translucent, depending on the animal’s need. It moves easily across the eye from underneath the eye lids.

Stella receives her medication every morning inside a small slice of an orange, set  atop the lovely salad she receives for breakfast. Collard greens are a mainstay (though I mix that up with turnip greens, mustard greens or spinach), to which I add zucchini or yellow squash, deep red bell peppers, carrots, and bananas or grapes.

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The Story of a Green Iguana Named Stella, by Elaine A. Powers, Author

the head of a green iguana
Stella, a much-loved green iguana, whose tail was chewed by dogs

Stella, a green iguana, was found on a street in Bethlehem, PA. Her tail has been badly chewed. The veterinarian thought it was done by dogs, possibly pit bulls owned by drug dealers. Her rescuers had to amputate most of her gorgeous four-foot tail.

Stella was full-sized, uncommon for captive green iguanas. Apparently, she had been cared for up until then. Once she had sufficiently healed from her surgery, they sent her to my rescue center in Highbridge, New Jersey. Her health returned, and she soon moved to her forever home with me.

Despite her injuries, she produced eggs after her arrival. She also tried to regenerate her tail, but the stump had been sewn shut.

She likes to hang out with her buddy, Ezra, another green iguana who lives in a nearby separate enclosure. Ezra likes to stand on his rear legs and show off for Stella every now and then. They’re very attentive to each other.

Stella has developed high blood pressure, as evidenced by a swollen nictitating membrane. It is kept under control with medication.

She is a sweet-natured iguana, and it is my pleasure to have her as a pet in my home.

The chewed and amputated tail of a green iguana
Stella’s amputated tail