Week 4 – Trying to Please Her

We have good days and bad days. The bad days are usually when I’m pushing it, when I think she understands me and she just isn’t there yet. I seem to take 2 steps forward and one step back.

Her drive is strong she obviously has an alpha type personality. I have to let her think she is control in order to bring her around to my way of thinking. Things have to be handled in a way that she feels like the alpha, at least to some degree.

She is very protective of her territory, when my hand enters the cage she gapes, pulls back her tail and takes on a threating pose.
angel_threats 3104

I will stop, show her the greens and make a kissing noise. I associate the kiss as its ok, I love you, don’t worry. I will withdraw my hand, look at the greens and then to her. I continue to try, it takes a few tries, finally she will allow my hand into her space, but I do not look at her, I look at the food dish.

This is a big improvement. Picking her up is still difficult. You can’t let their threating behavior win, so you need to follow thru with whatever you’re doing. In the shower she is learning to allow my wrist under her and she will climb on my arm. This is the goal and it is coming to be, it will just take time.

101_3141As of now, she is housetrained but I have to bring her to the shower. She’s beginning to know the lay of the house and knows how to travel back thru the house to her enclosure.

She is annoyed by seeing her reflection in the glass enclosure and is beginning to want to fight the “other iguana”. So, she has chosen to sleep on the bottom of the enclosure, wedged in the back behind the decorative pieces of wood.

I added heat rope on the glass at the bottom so she would have warmth during the night. I taped it down with a special shiny silver tape used for heating ducts. In the process, I forgot how the wood was on the bottom and she didn’t like the change.

So the last few nights she has been leaving the enclosure to sleep on top of the couch behind the cushions, which is OK with me, I can use the electric throw and it works well. I actually like it because she is warmer. My main issue is that I constantly have to walk thru the house to check on her during the night. Would eventually like her to be in my room.

Being a rescue, she has some health issues to overcome and I am hoping she can overcome them on her own. Usually 2 weeks of warmth and frequent soaks in warm water can boost their healing process. Iguanas are quite apt to healing themselves. I did buy a new UVB fluorescent (36″ t-5 5.0) and increased her basking bulb from 100w to 150w. I try to keep it at least 18” away from her branches. I am hoping to see an improvement in color and health. I so want her to be green again.

I also want her to be able to sunbathe outside. I tried to make a cage from large screens, decorated it nicely with live plants, but she wanted no part of it.

She just kept hurting herself trying to escape. Rubbing her nose and damaging her face more is not an option so I had to tear it down. I was SO disappointed because it took me SO long to build. I really lost it and yelled at her for being so unappreciative. Shame on me. She has such a strong will and is so headstrong. I have to be the more patient one.

It’s just that I know how important real sunshine is for her. So, until I can come up with a way to build something she’ll like it’ll be sunbathing for short supervised intervals on a harness and leash.

Outings have been a big hit and have proven to be the best bonding times. I disliked the string harness I bought and made my own harness with leather.


I’m confident she cannot escape this one. The store-bought string one, is hard to adjust, it can be tightened too tightly or too loosely. My design is fairly secure and using a long retracting leash, she can easily travel 15 feet and enjoy a bit of the outdoors.

I am super careful; I need to be aware of our surroundings. I keep an eye out for large birds, dogs and joggers. The boardwalk at the beach is out of the question right now but I relish her first day at the pier.

I have chosen a nice secluded park at the entrance of the bay that few people visit. I prefer to take her here. The sights and smells of the ocean, Right now she takes me for a walk, or should I say a run. It is a hilarious site, running at full speed with a nearly invisible lizard on a leash. It won’t be like this forever, has to enjoy the antics of her youth!

Week 5 – Shedding Allows a Breakthrough!

Things have changed in the last few days, I see calm now. She actually let me put my hand in the cage and pet her. She has found interest in her reflection and I saw her attack it the other day. I’m trying to put a back light on the glass, to tone down the reflection.

I wouldn’t mind it, but she is bruising her nose and I’m trying hard to heal the scars she acquired at the shelter. Her attacking the “other iguana in the window” makes me ask “Is she is a he? I so wanted another boy iggie and she acts like such a tom boy. She is so headstrong and obstinate. She always has to be right. Wait, maybe she is a girl!!



She has gotten better on the leash outside as well; I have found placing her high on a structure covered with plants is working well, since she is at the top of something, she stays up there, observing the area. It takes her about 15 minutes before she considers moving down, and at that time I tell her “no” and put her back saying “stay here. I spent the morning planting the garden with collards, mustard and zucchini.

I also planted some Chinese kale and turnip greens by seed, this way when one crop seeds, I will have another to fall back on. I let her watch me plant the garden as well. After about an hour in the sun, I put an umbrella up and she was still too hot and wanted down to explore the yard. I discouraged this brought her to the back door to the house and let her find her way in. Every time we come back to the house, I leave her outside the door and let her go in by herself. This will set her up so in time, she will know where the entrance of the house in.

Had a breakthrough this weekend. I helped her with a head shed, gently rubbed the scales that were ready to come off, and then her poor black nose, shed off!! When it released it startled me cuz It was thick and I thought her whole nose was falling off. Now I understand why it was black, it was a scab. Underneath was delicate pink and very tender.

1st-daysC2502By the end of the day it began to harden over and change to a light grey! Her nostrils shed as well, This is allowing her to breath better and the whistling sound she made is now gone. Still pieces are left around her face but I have to let them drop by themselves, otherwise, more scarring could occur if removed before their time.

After the shower I allowed her to walk back thru the house to her enclosure. I went to the couch and watched some tv and left her alone to explore. To my surprise she did the unthinkable…she walked up my leg onto the couch. It was her way of saying, hey, thank you, I think I can trust you, you’re alright and I think you are going to be my friend.

She even hesitated on my lap, allowing me to pet her!! WOW! Huge, just huge!

Then she slowly walked across my laptop and up into her home! She did this the following day too and it meant a lot to me. THIS is progress! This is promising. This is a taste of what is to come!

Whispering is needed less and less, our stream of communication is present, the respect is evident and the future looks bright

It is only the 3 days I have to work that sets our progress back, but in time she will come to understand that is just the way it is.

Week 6 – Allowing Exploration

Finally she lets me put my hand in her enclosure and pet her without drawing back, at least SOME times. Other times she displays by pulling back her tail and opening her mouth, but it more about don’t bother me, I’m happy and comfortable and leave me alone.

In the mornings when I don’t work, I bring her to my room and we cuddle for a half hour or so, I begin this time with a whisper then petting her with slow strokes.

101_5457I take this time to moisturize dry spikes that keep falling off, leaving her will a bald back, I believe due to lack of humidity and improper shedding, the blood flow was cut off from her spikes. I’m having been soaking her daily for 4 weeks, and still they are tight and will not come off.

She is soaking up the attention I give her, she is becoming a little cuddle bunny and it make me happy to see she has come so far.

She loves her car rides too. She is getting familiar with the car and really enjoys the stimulation. The heater allows me to keep it nice and warm and she will snuggle under my sweater when we go to the store.

I always keep her harness on attached to her retractable leash. It proves to put my mind at ease and allows me to let her down when I visit the park or friend’s home.



She is also allowed to bask outdoors on the top of a geranium covered trellis. I watch her while I work on my computer and she is really content there. I placed a large branch on top and she loves to explore and climb on it.

Her mind is being exercised with learning and is expanding with new found knowledge. This is essential to training an iguana. They are very receptive to learning new things, new words and hand signals.

Though it takes time and repetition, their intelligence will amaze you. This is what makes them unique. The little mind of the iguana is amazing.

Week 7 – Things are Improving

7 weeks

She now allows me to put my hand in her enclosure and will allow me to pet her. She is beginning to trust me and is learning that when I enter her space, it is to bring food or clean up things, or just get her a pet to check her warmth.

When I put my hand inside to clean the salt off the glass in front of her and she stays on the branch, without threating me, or leaving her space.

It’s not perfect yet, she still opens her mouth and pulls back her tail at times, but it is nothing like it was and the behavior seems reactionary now, not a show of force like it was.

I can break up the food in front of her and she will eat out of my hand.

Out of her enclosure she is beginning to allow me to pick her up without running away. This is a big.

She can go outside with a harness, leash and supervision.

She goes for car rides and behaves.

She has begun her first shed and is looking better! Some green is coming to her back and her face has begun to heal.

She has never gone potty in her enclosure, if I don’t make it home in time; she chooses the floor in the kitchen. I’m thankful she has the courtesy to go on the floor and not the carpet. I’m surprised at her intelligence, she is a fast learner. She is becoming my little Angel!