Pet of the Day

November 3, 2002

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Mozilla, the Pet of the Day
Name: Mozilla
Age: Two years old
Gender: Male
Kind: Giant Green Iguana
Home: Mantua, New Jersey, USA
   Mozilla is my 'miracle' iguana. I keep various species of reptiles, but had never planned to own an iguana, knowing the specialized care they require. However, a co-worker snagged me one day saying, "You're the Dragon-Lady, can you take an iguana?". Apparently her nephew had been given an iguana along with a tank he wanted from a friend, but he was keeping the ig in an unheated sunroom with just a lamp and a the middle of January! I told her I couldn't take her myself, but would try to find a home for her through my Herpetological Society. No one was able to take the poor ig, and I eventually decided to take the ig myself. She brought her to work one morning in a cardboard carrier, and I opened it up to see the most emaciated, sickly animal I had ever seen! The iguana was literally skin and bones, dehydrated, crawling with mites, and had a huge cyst on her face! I quickly put her in a warm cage in my classroom (I am an elementary school teacher) and got her some greens from the cafeteria. I just kept begging her to make it through the day and not die during class! Amazingly, she made it through the day until I could take her to my vet right after work.

    The vet was also in shock when she saw her. She couldn't give me very good odds on her survival, but we decided to give it a try. Along with her obvious problems of emaciation, mites, dehydration, and a cyst, she also had internal parasites, had lost all the beneficial gut bacteria she needed to digest her food, and her bloodwork came back terrible! She spent four days in intensive care at the vet's before finally being stable enough to come home with me. When she did come home, she was on several different medications and supplements that she needed twice daily, I had to give her antibiotic injections every three days, and force feed her morning and afternoon until she was able to eat on her own. She was so weak she could not climb her branches to bask, and she could only make it two or three steps before falling asleep on her feet.

    We are now eight months down the road from those first days when we didn't think she would make it. Mozilla (named after the open-source web browser) has come a long way! She went from weighing 336 grams when I first got her to four pounds today. She has grown about eight inches - an inch a month! From an emaciated wreck of an iguana, she is now nicknamed 'ThunderThighs'. She is three and a half feet long now, and if she reaches full growth will be between five and six feet long. It was a long haul to get her back to health, but it was definitely worth it. She has now been joined by two other rescue iguanas, Mandrake and Little Green Witch.

    Iguanas have unfortunately become the 'throwaway' pet of the reptile trade. Shelters and rescues are overflowing with iguanas, and more calls come in daily. Too many people do not research their special needs or are given misinformation by outdated books or uneducated pet store employees. If you are considering an iguana, please do the research first and consider adopting from a rescue, and give another iguana like Mozilla a second chance!

    The small image is her 'before" picture, and the large is "after."

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