My Iguana

When I was 12 years old, I got a baby iguana for a pet. I had him for 17 years, during which he grew from this spindly little thing that could sit on my finger to an immense big lizard four feet long and as hefty as a large, full-grown cat.

The books said iguanas grow up to be short-tempered and not much fun to handle, but mine was as tame as a well-behaved kitty. I took him everywhere–even to school when I taught an art class, because the kids enjoyed drawing him, petting him, and feeding him wild strawberries. My mother, and later my wife, liked to do up fancy salads for him. He had the run of our apartment because he always went back into his open cage to do his business. He liked to cuddle up with cats and dogs.

He had his peculiarities. When he outgrew his old wooden perch, and couldn’t even come close to fitting on it anymore, I took it out and replaced it with a nice, new perch more his size. He sat on the floor of the cage and sulked–until I put the old perch back in. Then he climbed onto the new one and lovingly draped his tail over the old.

It would be eccentric to say a lizard is a man’s best friend. But this lizard was a mighty good friend; and after all these years, I miss him.

9 comments on “My Iguana

  1. A very enjoyable and interesting read. Strange that you did not name him, even something childish like Iggie! Why not write more about him? I, for one, would like that.

    1. When I was a kid I called him Igor. But as he was the only iguana in the house, we all got out of the habit of using that name. Except for my sister, who once had to give him a bath.

      How did that happen? Well, I had to go up to Vermont for a few days, for a job interview. As always, we left the cage open. But this time he disappeared. No one could find him. It turned out he had found a way into the ceiling and decided to do a little exploring, and got himself lost for two days. The day before I came home, he found his way out again; and he was covered with dust and grime, so Alice gave him a bath. Some would have said she was asking for a rather nasty bite! But he wasn’t about to bite her, and he endured the treatment stoically. She’s never forgotten that.

    2. Thanks for your reply which has whetted my appetite for even more! Greedy, eh?

    3. There’s a book out there on called “Iguanas for Dummies.” But really, all you need to remember is that iguanas are social animals, very intelligent, for reptiles. So if you raise your iguana to be a pet, he’ll be a pet. I didn’t know it was called “socialization” back then. It just seemed natural to carry him around everywhere, feed him by hand, get him used to being outside the cage, and generally hang out with him. One of my friends had an iguana that grew just as big as mine, but was fierce and unmanageable because my friend never treated it affectionately.

  2. Here we are then! Proof positive that love can overcome suspicion, hatred and resentment. . . the Christian message in a nutshell.

  3. I’ve only encountered an iguana one time, and I remember it fondly and vividly (with a chuckle whenever I think about it). I was probably seven or eight, and my brother was five or six. We had a crazy neighbor. The kind of crazy where he had a large constricting snake as well as several baby ones; I assume they wandered around his house freely. Anyways, William and I were in our yard about to go inside when we saw a (to us) monster lizard between us and the front door. We had never seen anything like it; the only lizards we were familiar with were the five-inch long kind. We were freaked out, so we just stood there and started screaming for our mom. William insists that he wasn’t really scared, he was just doing it because I did. Ha 😀

  4. Thanks, Lee! This is a really sweet story. The relationship you had was priceless. And this picture is adorable! Some would call the iguana and kitty strange bedfellows, but my friend’s iguana and kitty were best friends, so apparently, it’s more common that we realize. 🙂

  5. God’s creations are good. Iguanas are part of creation and, even though they are not well understood by most people, they have that same goodness.

    I’ve read that rattlesnakes, whom may burrow together in huge snake pits during the winter still bask alongside their siblings when they go out to take the sun. Rattlesnakes are about as devoid of personality as anything I’ve ever met, but they still care about family and still reflect the values of their Creator.

    But an inguana becoming attached to a perch is amazing. Apparently that was something he needed in order to feel anchored in his world. To God goes the glory.

    1. Well, it was the first perch he’d ever had, and he was very partial to it. He didn’t mind if other lizards used it, though. He was good that way.

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