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How to Pick a Healthy Iguana

By John Simmons TEXT SIZE Minus Plus

So, you've decided to get a pet.

But you don't know what kind yet.

You leave the comfort of your home sweet home and go to the local pet shop. After looking at several types of dogs, cats, birds, and even fish, you suddenly realize that you want something out of the ordinary; something that would definitely turn heads.

You look around, wary that you might not find the perfect pet, when suddenly you chance upon a tank or two of very green lizards with dewlaps hanging from their chins. Some are just hatchlings, while others look somewhat old. You get excited and want to know what the animals are. You ask the clerk or pet shop owner about them. He/she tells you.

He/she also gives other interesting information, like the reptiles came from Peru, Surinam, Honduras, Columbia, or Mexico; there are more than 700 species of these animals; or the lizards are called "Bamboo Chicken" in some places.

You listen more and nod your head in agreement while telling yourself that you must get this animal for a pet. At long last, you tell yourself. You've found the pet of your dreams - the iguana.

However, you want to make sure that the animal is healthy. You are not just willing to spend your money on an animal that would die quickly. So, what are you supposed to do?

The answer is easy: conduct a touch test.

The shop owner must allow you to hold the chosen iguana in your two hands. You may use the finger of one hand to inspect the different body parts of the animal.

What things do you look out for?

In terms of its common appearance, consider the following:

The skin should be firm, clear, clean, and free of bites and scratches. (Bites and scratches might get infected later on.) The stomach should be free of burns. (Burns may eventually heal, but the skin would always be very sensitive to heat.) The stomach has no ground-in stool. (A dirty stomach indicates that the animal is living in an unhygienic environment which can make it sick and weak.)

The opening is free of dried stool and urine. (The presence of these shows that the lizard might have parasites and protozoa in its stomach.) The iguana resists strongly when its body parts are moved. (Weakness and instability may be a sign that the lizard is injured or suffering from calcium insufficiency.) The limbs, tail, and the whole body have no lumps, bumps, or swelling. (Cysts, infections, and fractures need veterinary treatment.)

The rear legs and thighs are shaped normally. (A swollen leg may indicate a fracture; two legs or thighs, an insufficient supply of calcium.) The limbs are sturdy and full while the body is smooth and vibrant looking. (If the limbs are very thin, the lizard may be starving or dehydrated. If the body looks wrinkled and dull, there may be bacterial or parasite infections.)

For its head, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, you may take note of the following: The eyes should be clear. (If they are bleary, crusted, or weepy, there might be an infection in the respiratory system or inflammation of the eyes.) The nose has no dried or wet mucus. (Dried or bubbly mucus is an indication of infection in the respiratory system.) The insides of the mouth should look healthy. (Infections would cause rotting of the insides of the mouth.) The jaw is not swollen. (If it is, then, the animal might have a metabolic disease.) There are no swellings or lumps on its face, dewlap, or neck. (Swellings may indicate abscesses.)

These are just some of the things you have to look out for when buying a pet iguana.

Now that you know how to spot a healthy iguana and you have already spotted a healthy one, you leave the store with a smile on your face. It will not be an easy job to raise your newly bought iguana, but it is sure worth a try.

About the Author
Want to find out about green iguanas and giant iguana? Get tips from the Iguana Care website.

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