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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?

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Do Iguana’s Have Teeth? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

 

Close up of teeth of Rhinoceros Iguana
Reginald, the Rhinoceros Iguana, smiles for Elaine

 

I’m often asked if iguanas have teeth.  Even more interesting are the people who tell me that iguanas don’t have teeth because they are vegetarians.  Since iguanas do have to bite through fibrous plant material, they actually have razor-sharp, serrated teeth. Sharks have nothing on iguanas when it comes to teeth! My rhinoceros iguana, Reginald, offered to show me his teeth for a photo. It’s often hard to see their teeth because they are nearly transparent. This may be why some people think they don’t have teeth – they’re hard to see.

Teeth are just one part of the iguanas’ eating procedure.  Iguanas taste the world with their tongue, their slightly forked tongue.  Yes, just like the forked tongue of a snake.  The tongue collects molecules which are transferred to the Jacobson’s organ located in the iguana’s mouth. Once the iguana determines the leaf is food, he reaches out with his tongue which is covered in really sticky saliva.  This allows the leaf to be pulled to the waiting mouth.  That’s when those razor sharp teeth are used to slice off a mouth-sized piece of leaf.

The iguana must make its food bite-size because he doesn’t have any grinding teeth like molars. If the iguana selects a bigger food item, such as a fruit, he will move it around his mouth, slicing it until it is able to slide down his throat.

Baby iguanas are born with teeth, so they can eat immediately after hatching. Iguanas regularly grow new teeth. For those of you into anatomy, iguanas are pleurodonts since their teeth are attached to the inside of the jawbone.

Although iguanas have impressive teeth, this doesn’t mean you should fear them–just respect them.  An iguana’s first response is to run. If running isn’t possible, they will whack with their tails and spin their bodies. Only as a last resort will they bite.  But if you do get yourself bitten, you will have an impressive wound showing each and every tooth!

My advice is let the iguana use his or her teeth for eating. 🙂

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 the pages 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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It’s Flower Day! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A closeup of the head of an older Spiny-Tail iguana
“Got any flowers for me?” Krinkle would always ask.  (A great loss for the author, he passed of old age May 16, 2019.)

 

What do you think of when you see that it is Flower Day?

I may look at it a bit differently than you.  I judge flowers on whether they would be a good food source for my animals!  The day lilies that bloom in the morning are served for breakfast. Krinkle Spiny-tail iguana always opened his gaping maw to crush the whole daylily flower. The yellow ones were preferred. Rose petals (no pesticides) are sprinkled like croutons. Homegrown carnations and pansies are also enjoyed.

One particular favorite is dandelion flowers. I can throw them to the iguanas and they will leap up and snag them! My neighbors are always willing to allow me to pick their dandelions. “Take as many as you like,” they say. I plant squash that never produce fruit because I harvest the flowers. No need to find good homes for all those extra zucchini.

As you enjoy flowers, remember to ask yourself: “Can I eat this?”

Elaine A. Powers was a biologist before she retired to write children’s books. A magical combination of storytelling and science is the wonderfully illustrated, Grow Home, Little Seeds. A bundle of seeds have grown up together and want to remain close as they head out into the world. But Nature carries them to their own perfect environments to establish roots and grow into the magnificent trees they are each meant to be. They are not far from each other, however, and remain fast forest friends.

Learn about the following trees while sharing their seed-adventures with your favorite little one: the Black Mangrove, the Bromeliad, the Christmas Orchid, the Gumbo Limbo tree, the Lignum Vitae, the Mahogany, the Poisonwood, the Red Mangrove, the Sea Grape, the Shell Orchid, and the Silver Thatch Palm.

a book cover of a nature preserve, where seeds are cultivated. Seeds are drawn as cute characters

 

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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.