This is "Ping-Pong", a 3 1/2' female Green Iguana. She was rescued from Electra, Tx. where she has been for apparently 4 years in sub-standard housing and other poor conditions, including being left among her own feces and dirty old substrate. I am told that she was won as a prize at a carnival when she was a just baby. She is in pretty good shape from my initial examination, considering the poor diet of lettuce and rabbit pellets she was getting, the lack of vertical climb space she had in the cramped homemade tank she lived in, and the apparent lack of UVB. All things considered, she could be much worse off for a 4 year old Iguana, but she needs much better than she has had if she is going to live her full life span and be healthy.
Like all Igs, she has lots of personality, but she needs someone who understands her. If startled she will whip her tail, hiss, and threaten to bite. She was not well socialized by the previous keepers, but we are working with her and she is now being handled glove-less after only a few days and her defensiveness is much reduced now. She enjoys warm baths in the tub.
Ping-Pong in the tub for a bath. Iguanas love the water and swim like crocodiles do, with their limbs tucked to the side.
Ping-Pong muses out the window at the summer Texas prairie. She wouldn't last a day out there in this heat and lack of humidity...but she doesn't know that. She still wants out.
Ping-Pong is currently being rehabilitated for socialization, and her adoption is on hold. She is currently eating almost everything she is given, and is getting a good diet high in greens, squash, carrots, and other healthy veggies and occasional fruit. Two months ago, she could not be picked up or approached without hissing, tail lashing, and threatening to bite, and we had to throw a towel over her head to move her or get into her cage. Today she is rubbed on the snout and neck everyday, and picked up barehanded without incident. She still flinches her head and closes her eyes when you move a hand toward her, much like an abused dog would, indicating that she was probably hit often by one of the former keepers. We hope this person gets their just reward in this life or the next for abusing an animal that way.
After an afternoon of basking outdoors, Ping-Pong escaped the day after Thanksgiving 2009. She walked off the porch railing as I was bringing other animals back inside. She often roamed the yard which was surrounded by garden fence, but the gate was open this time. My eyes were off her for less than 2 minutes. She didn't go far, but I didn't know that at the time. I began a frantic search that lasted 26 days. I searched every single day and night for her, sometimes until near dawn, or until my flashlight batteries died. Not one day went by that I did not spend at least 2 hours searching for her as she was out in the cold. After not finding her close to the house, I widened the search area over the weeks, progressively getting out to about 1/2 mile from my house. It sometimes took me 30 minutes to walk back home in the mornings. On Dec 23, 2009, I found Ping-Pong in a tree that had recently lost some of its cover. The tree was a stone's throw from the porch where I had last seen her alive. It was a tree I had searched before and did not find her. She had died of exposure to the cold. Many of the nights had dipped into the 20s and Iguanas can't tolerate that very long. My only hope was that her pain was dulled by the cold. The next day, Christmas Eve, a significant snow storm hit and I would not have found her before Christmas or for some time after. As it stood, I was glad to have learned what happened to her, and that she was now home so she could be mourned and buried. I could not have salvaged anything of Christmas had I not found her when the snow came. Finding her and knowing what had happened to her was all that I wanted for Christmas that year.
Ping-Pong was buried under a large billowing oak tree on the west edge of the property. The sun often sets just right behind this tree, and it can be a stirring sight. I call it the "resting tree". All animals that are lost here are buried near or under this tree. I have been so saddened by it, that it took me a year to write this update. Subsequently, I have rescued other Iguanas, and they now occupy the cabinet terrarium that Ping-Pong once slept in. They remind me of her sometimes, but their personalities are much different and I miss her. Had I not lost Ping-Pong though, they would not have been rescued from their own hellish over crowding in a shelter in DFW. They have her sacrifice to thank for giving them a second chance and avoiding the needle.
Bask In Peace, Ping-Pong
[ 2008 ]
Below: These are our first
rescues of the 2008 year. Both Mediterranean Geckos found perched
dangerously under a floor drain at a pet store. Whether they came in
from the wild and used the store as shelter, or whether they were
escapees, we don't know; but, their minutes were numbered having taken
refuge at a drain where bleach and other cleaning chemicals are dumped
routinely. They will be released at a local property owner's Gecko
refuge this summer.
Above: This Mediterranean Gecko was rescued after being discovered by a woman on her porch. Cold and likely caught off guard by a recent cold front; he was also missing his tail. The woman brought him into a pet store looking for help. This gecko will be rehabilitated and returned to the wild in the spring, and he already has a sponsor who will set him loose around her house in the country so he can catch lots of tasty bugs! His tail is already beginning to regrow well. Though many lizards are able to shed their tail and live, it is stressful for them and the possibility always exists that infection will result that can lead to death. Losing a tail is not a risk free event for the lizard. When this happens they also lose a large part of their fat reserves, which can make it very difficult for them to survive through the winter.
Above: Another Mediterranean Gecko rescue. This one suffered from an injured foot and had lost 2 toes. He appears to be doing fine now and will be released with the other in the spring.
Above & Below: This is Charlie. Charlie is a Golden Gecko who was purchased from Petco and returned the same day after the buyers, who did not know how to handle ( or not handle ) Geckos, broke his tail off. He could not be resold, so we rescued him. His wounded tail is being cleaned to be free from debris and treated with antibiotic. After 2 weeks, it is beginning to heal nicely and show new growth. This kind of injury can be very stressful to a Gecko, as it loses a majority of it's fat stores when it loses it's tail. It also places the Gecko in increased jeopardy for infection. When the healing and new growth progresses to a satifactory level, he will be adopted out to a good home.
Charlie continues to do well, and has put on about 2" of new growth on his tail. It is progressing nicely. He is still quite shy and spends most of his time in his cave hide over the undertank heater. He does dart out with lightning speed to grab mealworms treats however.
Charlie died today. I noticed that he had not been doing well a few days ago, and had been treating him ever since, but he faded a little each day. I intubated him and rescucitated him twice yesterday, but he would not stay with me. I do not know yet what happened to him, but the animals and I recently lost our home, and I am caring for all the animals by myself now. It's been difficult finding affordable accomodations with allowances for animals, and many of the animals have had to be put up in a garage loft for hibernation for the time being. Though Charlie did not hibernate, keeping him at temperature even with heat lamps was proving difficult.
Charlie was one of the first official rescues that we took in about 1 1/2 - 2 years ago. He was very shy and prone to stress, and with his rehabilitation of the broken tail, we just had trouble finding him a suitable and experienced home that could match his needs. He will be missed.
This is "General Gecko" as he was known at one of the local pet stores. A White Spotted Wall Gecko from Africa. He was just captured today after living on the run in a local pet store. He had escaped a couple of years back. He was the stuff of folklore in the store, and stories were circulated about sightings in cubbyholes and dark breakroom walls...the "white whale" of one particular manager. He apparently did well for himself in the store because he's a big SOB. About 6 inches. In fact the employee who caught and wrangled him with leather gloves still got a nip he felt through the gloves. We've seen baby crocs smaller than this Gecko.
We would have just left him where he was since he was doing so well, and probably cleaning up the store by eating other escaped animals, but management wanted him out. They were also calling in exterminators for the loose mice.
He will be put up for adoption, but due to his "pugnacious" attitude, speed, and willingness to bite, only those with significant Gecko or lizard experience will be considered.
He was renamed "Acco", after the largest male croc at Australia Zoo. He died on this day. Acco never adjusted to being captive, and never would eat sine being captured. Assisted feeding was near impossible because he was so fast, stong, and opposed to being handled or having anything in his mouth except your finger. Anything you tried to force in his mouth, including a feeding tube, was instantly cast out with a quick flip of his head or tongue. If restrained any further, he would thrash violently and "death roll" in your hands. It was a hard decision not to release him, but with winter approaching and him already losing weight, we knew he would not survive the winter outdoors. In hindsight, I should have snuck him back into that store and released him again....
Just born today ( Sunday 8/5/07 ). These two Bahama Anole hatchlings were rescued as eggs from a local petstore last week when they were discovered in the tanks on the sales floor. Store policy was to throw these eggs away, but a thoughtful employee contacted us. They were only a week away from life, and got lucky. They sat in a shallow container of damp vermiculite in an 80 degree room for a few days, and today while making rounds checking on baby Horned Lizards, they were discovered leaping around the table like a mini Jurassic Park attraction! They will be adoptable when they are old enough to start taking pinhead crickets. For now they are being fed flightless fruitflies.
These two are very easy and have been doing great. Since they were captive hatched, they are beginning to tame down when we approach and reach into their tank. We cannot handle them yet to examine them closer, but they do like to jump on and off our hands when we are trying to change their water, etc.