July, 1998 - Age 2 weeks?
Hi, I'm the largest reptile in the Ziring household, and my name is Kiwi. Sometimes, feeders used to call me 'Shortstop' because I looked like Mike Bordick (former shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles). More recently, they've started calling me 'The Desolator' because I like to have a bit of fun moving knick-knacks around while they're out of the house. When I was little, I was very timid, but now that I've reached adult size, my male nature has emerged: I'm bold, outgoing, and lazy. You can follow my growth in the chart and graphs below.
My full taxonomic name in the animal kingdom is: phylum CHORDATA, class REPTILIA, subclass LEPIDOSAUROMORPHA, order SQUAMATA, suborder Sauria, family Iguanidae, species Iguana iguana.
The picture above was taken in mid-July 1998. I came to live with Neal and Julie Ziring on July 3, 1998. Before that, I lived at House of Tropicals in Glen Burnie, MD [no web site yet]. I was born on a crowded green iguana farm in San Salvador in early June, 1998.
Here are some more recent pictures, the first was taken in early March and the second in early August, 1999. In the first picture, Kiwi is 8 months old and a little over eight inches SVL. In the second, he is almost 15 months old, and about 13 inches SVL. In the third, he is almost 2 years old, and a little over 17 inches SVL. The length numbers don't really express how he bulked up over that period. To help convey the idea of how fast a well-fed male iguana can grow, the same branch is shown in all the pictures. It is also the same one that Kiwi is clinging to in the picture at the top of this page!
Age 15 months
Age 23 months
A baby iguana, like any very young animal, needs the proper environment and good nutrition if you want it to grow up healthy and strong. Baby iguanas are pretty hardy, but they still do best when their special needs are met.
First, we tried to understand the iguana's background. In their natural jungle/forest environment, adult iguanas have very few threats to contend with. Therefore, they tend to be rather laid-back and complacent animals (except during breeding season). Young iguanas are not nearly so safe, and therefore nature has given them a very alert and cautious attitude. Now, iguanas are pretty smart, as reptiles go, and even a baby iguana will learn to trust its food source eventually. Until the bond of trust is established, it is very important to treat the iguana gently and to give it quiet and unfrightening surroundings.
Second, iguanas grow very rapidly when they are young. To achieve this, they need to eat and digest a lot of food. In the wild, even young iguanas are practically total herbivores. They have evolved to eat mostly leaves, some fruits and vegetables, and some flowers. Their digestive system works by bacteria-aided chemical breakdown, and this process needs heat to work well.
Third, iguanas are ecto-therms (cold-blooded), and must have a heat source available to them but not forced upon them at all times during the day. They cannot tolerate very cold temperatures, and baby iguanas are especially susceptible to infections and other problems if they are exposed to temperatures below 60 degrees.
With these points in mind, here are some care tips for young iguanas that we've gleaned from books and web sites, and tried to apply in our care for Kiwi when he a very young iguana. Apparently it worked, because he is now very big and healthy. For more care information, please visit the Giant Green Iguana Page.
There are good books on iguana care in any large book store. For example, Green Iguana - The Ultimate Owners Manual by James Hatfield and Iguana Iguana - A Guide for Successful Captive Care by Fred Frye are both very well-respected.
Note: I now weigh over 100 times as much as when this picture was taken!
Here are some Iguana-related sites that you may find interesting. You can also read about Iguanas and other reptiles in the rec.pets.herp newsgroup.
A site dedicated to providing information about lizards and reptiles.
Extensive site with information about many kinds of lizards, including iguanas
IguanaLand - Nice site with iguana care info plus other squamata
Iguana links at the Open Directory - Kiwi is an assistant editor!
National Iguana Awareness Day - September 11, 1999
The day may have passed, but this site still has good care information and links.
Iguana Iguana Newsletter - professional-looking and entertaining resource
Tales of 4 Iguanas - great anecdotes and care information
Allen's Iguana Care pages - info for first-time and experienced iguana keepers
IGUANA PLANET - Iguana info focused on construction of a nice enclosure
Dan & Sue's Page - with pictures of an iguana & friends
Iggy Kurt's Page - home page of Kurt the Iguana in Holland
Iguanaville - Rescue, Rehab, & Adoption for Iguanas
Iguana Town - Canadian iguana care site
International Iguana Society - Home page
Reptile Books etc. - Small on-line bookstore
Netlizard.net - lizard care and info site
The Basking Spot - links to reptile & amphibian resources
Little Lucy - A cute juvenile iguana
Iguana Site Information - ratings site for iguana care sites
Reptile Breeder & Dealer Links - listing of reptile sites
For many more links, visit the home page of my late predecessor, Yoshi.
You can also visit the page of my small associate, Sidney the bearded dragon.
Kiwi enjoying the sunshine on NIAD, September 9, 2000
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This page written by Neal Ziring, last modified 4/17/06.