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For My Iguanas, Every Day is Eat What You Want Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

May 11 has been designated Eat Want You Want Day as a respite from restricting our food choices, dieting, and general self-deprivation.  So, on this one day, feel free to eat want you want: Give in to that sweet tooth, eat those carbs, have cereal for supper. No one can tell you what you can’t eat on May 11! My iguanas embrace this philosophy, but not just one day a year.

One of my most outgoing iguanas was named Loa. He had had a rough time as a young iguana, but thrived once he reached my home.  He was interested in everything, especially food.  He had to try everything I ate.  If he didn’t like it, he would never bother me about it again. However, if he found a food he liked, he would harass me to get some for himself.  Fortunately, I didn’t mind sharing (unless it was cherry pie).

Green Iguana, Loa, on a tabletop
My Green Iguana, Loa, loved human foods.

Green iguanas are tree dwellers, so they are very good at climbing and jumping. If I was eating something Loa felt was tasty, soon he would leap onto the middle of the dining room table and join me. Often I would make a separate plate of my food for him to enjoy.  But when it came to cherry pie, neither of us wanted to share. It was all his! So, I’d take to the kitchen to eat my piece and leave him to eat his on the table!

My iguana, Algae, almost got me in trouble during a dinner party. She was enjoying a romp around the house before I had to confine her when my guests arrived (they weren’t as enthusiastic about iguanas as I am). I had made a lemon cake topped with mandarin oranges, a very refreshing dessert. I went to take a shower, only to return to Algae with her head buried in the cake, happily eating.  She turned to me with a look of innocence on her cake-covered face! Fortunately, my friends had a sense of humor and we enjoyed the part of the cake Algae hadn’t eaten.

Green Iguana, Algae, on an enclosure.
My Green Iguana, Algae, who loved lemon/mandarin orange cake.

And yes, I gave Algae and the other iguanas the remaining cake!

To learn more about these fascinating big lizards, see our 30-page downloadable Supplemental Workbook for Grades 2-4,  My Unit Study on Iguanas.  The  workbook includes Cyclura or Rock Iguana?, Iguana Facts, Iguana Puzzle, Iguana Lifecycle, Reptile Facts, Name the Reptile, Label the Parts, Compare Traits, Ecology Word Problems, Printing Letters,  Short i Sound, Counting, Cut and Paste, Cut and Classify, True or False; Mean, Median, Mode, Range; Using a Histogram, and Converting Grams to Pounds.

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

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Are You Wearing Green on March Seventeen? It Must Be Green Iguana Day! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

An illustration of a green iguana on a tan beach, with a small part blue sky. Words: March 17! Everyone must be celebrating Green Iguana Day!
“Everyone’s wearing green! It’s GOT to be Green Iguana Day!” says Dudley Dewlap.

Have you noticed that at this time of year, people celebrate a mid-March holiday by wearing green clothes, hanging green decorations, and eating green foods and drinking green beer? They must be celebrating Green iguana Day! 

Dudley Dewlap, a green iguana (of course!) explains all about Green Iguana Day, on Curtis curly-tail’s YouTube Channel.

To learn more about these fascinating big lizards, see our 30-page downloadable Supplemental Workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas.

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60 Tried and True Iguana Foods by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A list of iguana foods, showing a salad illustration, an iguana and the list of vegetables and fruits

Ever since I operated a reptile rescue center, I’ve had a good number of iguanas. Over ninety percent of newly purchased iguanas die within the first year, so their good health is very important to me. Fresh Vegetables and fruits are important to their survival.

I use a potato peeler to make long slices of zucchini and carrots and chop the other veggies into small pieces.

Above is a list of basic vegetable and fruits and the special treats that can be given on an occasional basis.

Their basic salad in the morning includes Collard Greens, Red Bell Peppers, Zucchini, Carrots, and Bananas or Grapes.

To learn more about these fascinating big lizards, see our 30-page downloadable Supplemental Workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas.

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Stalking Chile, the Red Green-Iguana by Pam Bickell

I’ve taken care of Ms. Powers home and reptiles when she travels for a couple of years now. They all answer to their names and I know each of them personally, though I’m closer to some than to others. Chile, a reddish green iguana is young and pretty skittish. He was very nervous about me when he first came to live with Elaine, but after a while, he realized I was delivering daily deluxe salads and he stayed in one place as I set his salad plate inside his enclosure.

Though he ate his salad every day, I never saw him eating. It didn’t matter how many times I walked into the room, he was never near his food dish—but the food had disappeared.

I’m thinking, “Gumby arms?” And I decided to become a stalker.

Chile, the stalkee, however, did not cooperate, EVER. Food gone every day with no chewing action witnessed by me.

One day, I crept around the corner and HE HAD GREENS hanging from his mouth. I spun and ran for my phone camera. I KNEW I would be too late, but he was in the same spot. I slowed, acting casual, pretending like I didn’t see him. Then I snapped his picture! I was so proud of my stalking, I texted it to Elaine. She was proud of me, too. 😊

A reddish green iguana inside a cage, standing at a salad plate, with greens in his mouth.
Got ya, Chile!

A few days later, I walked into the room and Chile was chomping away at his salad. I thought of my camera, he looked up at me, and improbable as it sounds, he sent me a thought: “I LET you see me eating. You’re a really bad stalker. Take another picture if you want.”

So, I did.

a reddish green iguana standing on a log in his cage, chewing on salad greens
“I LET you see me eating. Duh!”

But never again will I stalk an iguana. They’re just too dang smart.

Lyric Power Publishing offers student workbooks and activity sheets for teachers, tutors and home schooling parents. One of them is a workbook all about the amazing creatures we call iguanas.

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Chile, a Red Green Iguana by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A red morph green iguana in a cage, on a log with salad greens at front of picture
Chile is a red morph green iguana, created through selective breeding.

You may have noticed in a previous blog post that Chile is a very orangish-red green iguana. Shouldn’t a green iguana be green, like Algae?

It turns out that not all green iguanas are the same color. They come in all shades of green and I once had a black-and-white green iguana. Noting color differences encourages breeders to try to bring out the less common colors. Albino green iguanas have now been produced and today, blue (blue axanthic) and red morphs are available.

Chile is a red morph green iguana and her red color is constant, not like some male iguanas who turn orange during breeding season. One nice thing about these morphs is you know they are captive bred and were not taken from their native wild environment.

Learn more about these incredible reptiles with our 30-page Iguana Workbook and Activity Sheets for Grades 2-4.

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The Krinkled Iguana who Became a Member of My Family by Elaine A. Powers, Author

I operated a reptile/iguana rescue in New Jersey, and I only had green iguanas there. I like green iguanas and each one is an individual. But I hoped to someday rescue other kinds of iguanas, as well, like rock iguanas or spiny-tails. I was on reptile speed-dial with many rescues and animal control departments in the Tri-State area, and one day I got a call about a “black iguana.” The animal control officer had never seen one before and really didn’t know what to do with him, so they called me. I knew what a black iguana was! I told them I was on my way and that’s how my buddy, Krinkle, came into my life.

a woman in a yellow shirt holds a spony-tail iguana in her front room
Elaine Powers with her rescued buddy, Krinkle, a spiny-tail iguana.

Krinkle is a Ctenosaura similis, commonly known as a black or spiny-tail iguana in the pet trade.  However, they are also known for being difficult to socialize. In Krinkle’s case, this was especially true because he had been badly abused. The family who owned him had surrendered him after he had bitten every member. Good for him!

This adult male iguana who should be four to five feet long was kept in a five-gallon aquarium for the first five years of his life. Some people think that if you keep an iguana in a small tank, they will remain small.  Actually, they die.

Krinkle’s body sacrificed its back half to allow the front half to grow.  So, when he was removed from the tight confines of the much too small tank, his tail was accordioned to about four inches, instead of the expected 24 inches. His hips were shrunken. When I first got him, he couldn’t walk. Over time his legs strengthened and he learned to walk, but is still not able to run. The compaction of his tail has eased but it is seriously curved, which is why I named him Krinkle. My mom used to call him Twizzler.

the head and upper body of a black, or spiny-tail iguana being held by human hand
Krinkle, a spiny-tail iguana, got his name because his body was unable to grow in the small aquarium he lived in for the first five years of his life.

Krinkle’s kind are not known for being friendly. However, he is so happy to be free of his first family, he has never shown any aggression toward anyone since. I take him for ‘Show and Tell’ to schools and he is so calm, Kindergarten students can pass him around and hold him.

Krinkle is now a member of my family and shares the reptile room with Rascal, a tegu; Stella and Ezra, green iguanas; Reginald, a rhino iguana; and Blue, a blue iguana/rock iguana hybrid, along with Big Boss, Duke, a 115 lb. Sulcata tortoise, who likes to move the iguana enclosures wherever HE wants them to be. 😊

To learn more about these fascinating reptiles, see our 30-page workbook on Iguanas.

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Post-Commercial Gigs—Almost, By Elaine A. Powers, Author

a yellow green iguana posing on a gray table
Algae might’ve become a movie star!

Continued from Lights, Camera, Action

After Algae and Jubby starred in the Corazon Tequila commercial, I was asked to provide a socialized iguana for a Broadway show. They wanted a lizard who would live in a glass aquarium on stage for the six-week run and be fed crickets during the show. Since iguanas are herbivores and I didn’t want any of my very large family members to be stuck in a glass tank for two months, I suggested other kinds of lizards that would be more suitable.

They ended up using a basilisk, purchased from the local pet shop. The basilisk did a wonderful job and eventually found his forever home with the stage manager.

A few months later, I was contacted by a movie studio.  A socialized iguana was needed for an indie film. The iguana was to sit on the back of the sofa and allow the actor to pet and interact with her. It involved a limited time commitment and I had several friendly candidates. I agreed to have my igs screen tested. However, the assistant called back and said the iguana scenes had been cut. The director had overspent his budget and they could no longer afford to hire one of my girls.

I don’t know which one would have been selected had they moved forward, but I was already looking forward to her being a movie star!

To learn more about these amazing giant lizards, see our 30-page teacher,parent or tutor workbook “My Unit Study on Iguanas,” for Grades 2-4.

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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.