Taming of the Cyclura
It seems everyone
that gets a Cyclura Iguana for a pet has heard how "dog tame"
they can get. What they fail to mention is all the work that goes into
getting them that way. It can be a long road but is well worth it in
I had read Marie
Eguro's page about Sapphire
the lewisi cross and wanted something just like that after my female
Green Iguana, Pearl died during surgery after attempting to lay 105
eggs in 2001. Sapphire was reported to be dog tame. So I went ahead
and ordered a lewisi cross from David Blair.
I was in for
a bit of a rude awakening as she was not nearly as tame as I thought
she would be. What I would learn is that most cyclura hatchlings and
babies are extremely flighty just like baby green iguanas.
Friends of mine
insisted that 2 years was the magic number; that I just had to keep
handling her the best I could and by 2 years of age she would calm down.
It was daunting at best. I nearly gave up several times. But the prospect
of the dog tame adult was there in the back of my mind.
Here are some
suggestions for taming:
- Handle your baby every day for 15 minutes.
- Never put the baby back in the enclosure immediately after being bitten,
whipped or pooped on. This only reenforces bad behavior. Wait 10-15
minutes and when they are behaving (not thrashing) then put them back.
- Put the baby's tank where there is heavy foot traffic or in a location
where there are humans nearby for a good portion of the day. (I put
Tashmoo's tank right here next to me at the computer)
- Become a "constant benign presence". Walk by the tank, sit
by the tank, talk softly to your baby. It takes time but the more ever-present
you are the less he will care about you being there.
- When you have your baby out try and feed him his favorite food. Perhaps
some fruit that he is particularly fond of. Make it a good experience
when he comes out.
- Take him out for a soak in the tub every couple of days even if it
seems like it is not going over well at first. Many times they will
start to enjoy the bath.
- Take your baby on outings if possible. Desensitizing him to car rides,
other people, other animals etc is a good thing. You will wind up with
an animal you can take anywhere (including the vet) without a problem.
- Take your baby outside in the sun either with a hip leash or in a
mesh cage. (NEVER take him out in a glass tank as he will cook.) The
sun is good for them and getting him used to the sun when small and
manageable is definitely to your advantage.
- When your "baby" is older and approaching 2 years of age
try and let him roam about in an iguana proofed room. A bit of freedom
helps a lot with these guys. When you go to to retrieve him don't put
him back in the cage every time. Pick him up and put him down. Soon
he will realize that nothing bad happens when he is picked up.
Remember, your baby only thinks of you as a predator. In the wild he
would be part of the food chain. All he has for defense is running away,
biting and whipping. In his little brain he will do all these things to
save his life. What you have to do is convince him that he is not merely
a snack. And it CAN take up to 2 years. Also remember that it is worth
the effort in the long run!
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