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The Green Iguana Must Leave the Cayman Islands by Elaine A. Powers, Author

a bright green iguana on a tree in Grand Cayman

I was recently on the island of Grand Cayman. This island located south of Cuba has its own native rock iguana, the blue iguana, (Cyclura lewisi). Unfortunately, the invasive green iguana (Iguana iguana) was introduced by humans and their population exploded. In 2018, the estimated green iguana population was about 1.3 million on the 76 square miles of the island. That’s about 18,000 per square mile!

The Cayman Island Department of the Environment initiated a culling program, paying $5 for every green iguana caught and turned in to the DoE. In September 2019, the DoE reported that 925,000 had been removed from the environment.

Last year, when I visited Grand Cayman, greens were everywhere. So I was thrilled this year that I only saw one. The young green was hanging out in the parking lot of the hotel. Despite my affection for green iguanas, they don’t belong in the Cayman Islands and need to be removed. It’s unfortunate that we humans introduced them in the first place. Now, this is the only way to save the native ecology.

Keep up the good work, Caymanians.

If you’re interested in learning the differences between the native rock iguanas and green iguanas, Lyric Power Publishing produced booklets to help the people of the Cayman Islands differentiate the lizards. Contact Elaine Powers at iginspired@gmail.com to make arrangements to receive some copies.

And, if you’d like to learn more about these fascinating reptiles, click on the workbook below, My Unit Study on Iguanas. It has all kinds of information on iguanas, and pages to Label the Parts, Cut and Paste, True or False, Compare Traits, Cut and Classify, Mean, Mode & Median, and much more! It’s a veritable workbook delight!
a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's headTo see all of our comprehensive, educational, and fun workbooks, go to LPP Workbooks.

 

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Visiting with Friends on Cayman Brac by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Usually when I travel, if I’ve been to a place once, that’s good for me. Time to move on to the next location on my “to-visit” list. But I have a few favorite places I don’t mind visiting each year. It’s convenient when I write books about those places, because I have to then deliver books to stores there, or I go for inspiration and research for the next book. One such place is Cayman Brac, one of the Sister Islands in the Cayman Islands.

To get to the Brac, I usually fly into Grand Cayman, which is a very nice place to visit as well. My favorite places are Books and Books, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Gardens to see the Grand’s blue iguanas, and Pampered Ponies, where you can take a swim with a horse. But then it is off to the Brac, a short plane ride away. It’s only about 98 miles.

image of Sister Isle Rock Iguana, Cyclura nubila caymanensis
Sister Isle Rock Iguana, Cyclura nubila caymanensis

Even though the purpose of my last trip was to market and restock the stores with my books, my personal reason was to visit with the locals, such as the beautiful lady above. She is a Sister Isle Rock Iguana, Cyclura nubila caymanensis. I was part of the team that caught her last year and watched as she dug a nest for her eggs. Her egg chamber was part of the research project for the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment. She is looking great.

Of course, when I asked her if she remembered me, she ran off into the brush!

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's headFor educators and homeschooling parents, LPP offers a 30-page workbook called My Unit Study on Iguanas designed for students in grades 2-4. It’s filled with fun and educational pages and puzzles, all about the iguana.

a blue and turquoise book cover with an image of Cayman Islands passport coverAnd your favorite first – third grader(s) might love to make a Passport to the Cayman Islands while learning about these truly beautiful islands.

illustration of head of cyclura nubila iguanaIf you have any interest in the identification booklets that Lyric Power Publishing has created on how to tell the differences between the invasive green iguanas and the native rock iguanas, please contact Elaine Powers at iginspired@gmail.com.

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Today is Math Storytelling Day! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

cover of book "Silent Rocks." white background, rock iguana pictured in natural habitat on island Cayman Brac
The population of the endemic Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) on Cayman Brac is in serious decline.

Math was not my favorite, nor my best, topic, but I did like the math used to solve real-world problems. I enjoyed using geometry to determine how tall a tree is. Discovering the unknown variables in algebra fascinated me; it was like a secret code that had to be deciphered. I eventually came to understand how to use statistics and calculus in measuring aspects of ecosystems and in animal behavior. It turned out that I did like math–if it applied to my interests in science!

When master educator Marilyn Buehrer designed the Lyric Power Publishing workbooks and activity sheets based on my children’s storybooks, I was thrilled that she included some of my favorite animals in her math problems. I particularly like the one where she has the students measure the iguanas to determine average and median sizes in the workbook My Unit Study on Iguanas. I could use that in my citizen scientist work out in the field with the rock iguanas of Cayman Brac!

If you’re curious at all about the Sister Isle Rock Iguanas on Cayman Brac, check out my poignant book, Silent Rocks, pictured above. The population of Cyclura nubila caymanensis on Cayman Brac is in serious decline and these vegetarian lizards are an important part of the island’s ecosystem. Their reduction is the result of human activity on their habitat, and the threats can only be eliminated by human action. I am hopeful the people of Cayman Brac will turn this sad situation around.

colorful children's book cover with illustrations of curly-tail lizards

In The Dragon of Nani Cave, the Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon that lives there. (The dragon is a Rock Iguana, but when you’re a small lizard, an iguana is a dragon!) Gene and Bony soon realize how big and how dangerous the world beyond their beach really is. Leaving home is easy, but what if they do find the dragon? And how will the lads make it back?

a green and white book cover with the image of a book called The Dragon of Nani CaveFor educators and homeschooling parents, LPP offers a 30-page coordinating workbook designed for grades 3-6. Fourteen pages are taken directly from The Dragon of Nani Cave, with 14 pages of corresponding questions. Teachers and parents read the book aloud to students, then hand out the reading and question pages. Students reread pages from the book and answer the questions for each page; they also color in the black and white pictures on every page.

illustration of head of cyclura nubila iguanaIf you have any interest in the identification booklets that LPP has published on how to tell the differences between the invasive green iguanas and the native rock iguanas, please contact Elaine Powers at iginspired@gmail.com.

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Miles the Water Monitor Wants His Own Day, Too by Elaine A. Powers, Author

photo of a large lizard, a water monitor, on a tree branch
Water Monitor image courtesy of Yarachan from Pixabay

Last post, I wrote about my adventures with script-writing and the short, comedic audio scripts of Conversations with Dudley Dewlap. In this excerpt from “First Noel,” Miles and Molly Monitor decide there should be a day honoring water monitors, because Dudley has March 17 or Green Iguana Day (as he calls it). However, Dudley manages to turn the conversation toward himself, as usual. He does give some pretty good advice and I hope you enjoy this tidbit from the script.

MILES: So what would you be celebrating on Dudley Day?

DUDLEY: I’ve been thinking about that.

MILES: Of course, you have.

DUDLEY: The celebration of the perfection of the green iguana.

MILES: ‘Cuse me?

DUDLEY: All animals should strive to seek the perfection that is the iguana. I realize I need to provide instruction in how to achieve ig-ness.

MILES: You came up with instructions? What are they?

DUDLEY: First, always look for a sunbeam to bask in.

MILES: Sounds delightful. Next?

DUDLEY: Swimming in warm water helps you find contentment.

MILES: I agree one hundred percent.

DUDLEY: Always reach for the top.

MILES: Does is have to be a tree?

DUDLEY: Of course not. Never be content with what you’ve achieved – always try for more.

MILES: Excellent advice. Never tolerate mediocrity.

DUDLEY: Bright colors make you look your best.

MILES: But the predators might see you more easily….

DUDLEY: It’s not easy being green.

MILES: Uh, Dudley, I think an amphibian already uses that phrase.

DUDLEY: Are you sure?

MILES: Yeah, he has his own TV show, has been in movies, quite famous. Dates a glamorous pig.

DUDLEY: Really? Give ‘im a call. We’ll do lunch.

MILES: Any other instructions?

DUDLEY: Be different and people will notice you.

MILES: It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.

DUDLEY: A diet with lots of vegetables is good for you.

MILES: Maybe for you herbivores and omnivores, but what about us carnivores?

DUDLEY: And last, but most important, look for the warmth in people.

There you have it–a short bit from one of the scripts in Conversations with Dudley Dewlap. Click the link below to check it out for your school or theater group. Purchase of any of the audio script books includes performance rights.

Gray book cover, illustrated with two iguanas standing in front of microphones
Funny and educational audio scripts ranging from five to 20 minutes in length

Conversations with Dudley Dewlap: The World from a Lizard Point of View is a collection of short comedy, small cast, audio scripts. Most roles are gender neutral. The primary characters are talk show hosts who discuss various amusing topics. The scripts can be combined or used individually. Additional cast can be used for the sound effects. Along with being entertaining and family friendly, many of the scripts are also educational. The scripts are amenable to radio theater, readers theater, or may be adapted for stage. Approximate running times vary with each script, ranging from 5-20 minutes.

 

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Who Likes a Bath? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

Water is important to all reptiles. Some need a lot of water, like the tropical rain forest green iguanas and some less, like the desert dwelling Sulcata tortoises.

My iguanas get regular soakings, which they enjoy. Some like the shower, spraying them as if rain is falling, while others prefer the gently rising warm water of the tub. The red-foot tortoises also enjoy soaking this way. Ezra, an old green iguana, requires his daily soaks to maintain his internal health.

A rock iguana soaking in a tubHere is Blue, a Cayman Blue-hybrid iguana, enjoying his soak.

But some reptiles don’t like to soak. One big one is Duke, my male Sulcata tortoise. Even though it is important for him to soak occasionally, he hates it. I mean, he really hates it. People tell me how tortoises love to soak and maybe they even float. Not Duke. He sinks like a rock.

I used to soak him in the bathtub until he reached 120 lbs. Then I kind of crushed my finger between him and the side of the tub. Since then, I fill the kiddie pool with warm water for him. I tried rinsing him with the hose as the water level rose. He didn’t like that, thrashing about, trying to climb over the edge.

I tried putting him into an already filled pool. Still he thrashed. I hoped he would calm down and just soak, but no, he tried to climb out every corner of the round pool. I described it like the agitating wash cycle of a washing machine.

Don’t worry, I always let him out after I’ve had a chance to scrub him clean.

Lyric Power Publishing offers an educational 44-page workbook on tortoises, full of fun activities and interesting information about these fun creatures. The workbook for children in PreK-Gr 1 is called My Book About Tortoises and is used by teachers, tutors and parents to supplement the education of their children. Check it out today!

a yellow and green book cover with an image of a desert tortoise

To see all of our comprehensive educational activity sheets and workbooks, click on Our Workbooks.

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Why Do Iguanas Like Soft Things? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

I have a variety of iguanas in my house. Some normally climb in trees, some dwell among rocks. Those in my house live on towels. One thing I have noticed is that they all seem to like soft things, like pillows and cushions.

I’ve often wondered where in nature they would come across such soft items. I have no clue. But inside my house, they seek comfy places to rest. Here are some examples.

head of green iguana sticking out of blanketsA green iguana in my bed.

Iguana tail sticking out of blanketsA rhinoceros iguana on my sofa, under a blanket. See the dark tail?

The above iguana also likes to sleep on a cat pillow in her enclosure. Everyone deserves a little softness in their lives.

Lyric Power Publishing offers an educational 30-page workbook on iguanas, full of fun activities and interesting information about these amazing creatures. The workbook is called My Unit Study on Iguanas, and is used by teachers, tutors and parents to supplement the education of children in grades 2-4. Check it out today!

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's head

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What Makes Animals Have Different Colors? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A children's book cover, brown background, orange and yellow lettering, with images of snakes from the Bahamas
BAHAMIAN BOAS: A TABBY TALE Now Available at Amazon

In a previous post, I mentioned the different color-morphs of green iguanas. You might be interested to know what causes animals to come in these different colors.

The colors in reptiles and most other animals come from fascinating cells called chromatophores. Chromatophores are cells that contain pigments, one color per cell. Melanophores contain black pigment, erythrophores have red, xanthophores are yellow, and leucophores are white. Iridiophores are the cells containing the reflective pieces that produce iridescence (as seen in Bahamian Boas, A Tabby Tale above). The presence of and combination of these different cells determine the color patterns of the animal.

Chromatophores are located in the basal or lower layers of the epidermis. When a reptile sheds its upper epidermal layer, you’ll notice there are no colors in the old skin. That’s because the pigment cells are deeper.

The pigment granules inside the cells can be moved around. If you’re a cold-blooded (ectotherm) reptile and need to warm up, you would expand the black pigment in your melanophores to absorb more of the sun’s rays. When you were nice and warm, you would cluster the pigment back into the cell.

Chameleons are famous for their ability to alter their color patterns. They are able to do this by expanding and contracting the pigment granules within the various colored cells.

Hormones affect the expression of the colors. Iguanas become much brighter in color during mating season, when they need to attract a mate.

It’s a shame we humans only have the black pigment (melanin) chromatophores. Think of the fun we would have if we could change colors like a chameleon.

Interested in learning more about iguanas? Please see Lyric Power Publishing’s educational, supplemental workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas.

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's head

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Sometimes I Need to be Reminded by Elaine A. Powers, Author

profile of elderly green iguanaStella, the Green Iguana

I’m a busy person. There’s always something to do, someplace to be or someone to contact. But sometimes, a place or someone reminds me to slow down, to simply be in the moment. Recently, it was Stella.

Stella is an elderly green iguana from Bethlehem, PA. She was rescued from the streets after dogs had chewed on her four-foot tail. The tail was amputated and Stella recovered in my reptile rescue in New Jersey. Stella has been with me ever since. She is now in her 20s, pretty old for a green iguana. She tolerates me petting her.

This morning, I cleaned her enclosure and put her in the bathtub to soak. When I was done, I picked Stella up to return her to her nice clean home, but she reached out to cuddle me. Stella wanted to cuddle. She relaxed onto my shoulder, without trying to bite me, which is her usual action in that position.

Closeup of face of cuddling green iguana
Stella on my shoulder, completely at peace. She reminded me that sometimes being together is all that matters.

So, instead of rushing her back to her breakfast, I sat down on the sofa. She let me pet her. When I stood up, she leaned in, so I sat down again.

Sometimes, merely being together is what is important.

If you’d like to learn more about these very special creatures, please enjoy this wonderful story about Kismet, the wise and loving iguana.

And, to make learning about iguanas fun, please see our workbook My Unit Study on Iguanas.

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's head

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You Really Can Be Inspired by Anything! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Writers really can be inspired by any situation.  I’m a member of the Tucson Poetry Society. The best part of the meeting is the sharing of our poems and receiving friendly critique of our work. Everyone who attends is encouraged to participate.  I usually have at least a few stanzas to share, but at the May meeting, I had no work to submit.  After I admitted my lack of material with, “I ain’t got nothin,'” my creative juices began to flow. I had the poem below by the end of the meeting.

Yes, a meeting of poets can be inspiring. And the most amazing thing about the feedback, which was positive, was one comment that reptiles are not alluring. Hmmmm, another poem inspiration, perhaps?

stanzas of a poem on mottled green paper

No Title, Either 
Elaine A Powers

I ain’t got nothing,

I’ve nothing to read.

“Bring something to share,”

Were words I didn’t heed.

 

The muse, she wasn’t with me,

The words, they wouldn’t flow.

How would I create a poem?

I honestly didn’t know.

 

I listened to the others

Deep with insight and emotion,

There were frogs and bears

And fishes in the ocean.

 

Verses of faith and death,

And one about, What is still?

Which made me think of alcohol . . .

My mind does wander at will.

 

But I had nothing to offer,

I hadn’t had time to write.

I vowed that by next month’s meeting

I would accept the critique invite.

 

Oh, I have plenty of topics

Of that you can be sure.

Would a poem about iguanas

Convey their reptilian allure?

 

Perhaps something about impaction,

Since it had come up that day.

I could write about my iguana, Reggie,

And his foolish eating ways.

 

But listening to the others

My creative juices were squoze,

Maybe I will be inspired,

A worthy poem to compose!

Close up of teeth of Rhinoceros Iguana
Reginald, the Rhinoceros Iguana, smiles for me. How can they possibly think he isn’t alluring?

 

Lyric Power Publishings Supplemental Children’s Workbooks and Activity Sheets are used to dispel boredom during the long weeks of summer. Learn all about “alluring” reptiles such as iguanas, tortoises and turtles while completing the pages of the workbooks. 🙂

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The Carrier by Elaine A. Powers, Author

I travel with my reptiles because I love introducing others to all sorts of reptiles and sharing about mine. I believe it is harder to hate something if you meet it in person. Many people never have a chance to feel the smooth warm scales of a lizard or pick up a tortoise to feel the heft of her shell. I take a variety of reptiles to my talks so people can learn about the different groups.

However, that means I have to get them all to the classroom in one trip. The small box turtles easily fit inside a soft-side pet carrier, but how am I supposed to carry a 130-lb tortoise or a five-foot lizard, like Blue? I not only need something they’ll fit in comfortably, but it also must be convenient to carry, with either wheels or a shoulder strap. Most soft-sided pet carriers just aren’t long enough, even though the tails curl; and the big dog crates don’t have wheels or handles–they’re just big.

A woman holds a five-foot rock iguana in her living room
The author with five foot rock iguana, Blue.

I saw this blue carrier for sale and thought it might work for my rock iguana, Blue. As described, it would have room for him with handy handles. And, it was Blue.

an image of a blue, soft-sided pet carrier
The Blue Carrier for Blue, I mean, Roxie

However, unlike the smaller pet carriers, it didn’t have a solid bottom, so it wouldn’t work for my large iguanas. So, I folded it up and stuck in storage. I didn’t know what I would use it for, since it wasn’t strong enough to stop a reptile determined to roam, but I just knew it would find a purpose in life.

A few months later, my friend Pam, as she headed out the door, mentioned that she needed a crate for her little dog, Roxie.

I said, “Hold on!” and retrieved the blue carrier.

Pam was thrilled that I just happened to have exactly what she needed and took the carrier home. Roxie is 12 and had never had a “cave,” so Pam wasn’t sure Roxie would use it.

a small black dog looks out of a pet carrier
Roxie took to the blue carrier like she’d had it all her life!

A few days later a thank you note and this picture arrived in my email. She surely looks different than my reptiles do in the carriers, but I’d day the little terrier-mix looks pretty content, wouldn’t you?