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April 20, 2012

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Saule, the Pet of the Day
Name: Saule
Age: Nine months old
Gender: Unknown
Kind: Desert Iguana
Home: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
   My birthday is January 26, so my boyfriend and I saved for four months to buy Saule (pronounced SAW-leh) as my birthday present. We have had the little guy all picked out at the exotic pet store since October, and I had been researching his species for longer than that. Due to the fact that Saule has not yet reached maturity, it is impossible to tell what gender it is. I say "he" because all the other lizards we've had have been male.

    Saule is an herbivore, and is very particular about what he eats. My research told me that he would like to eat lots of parsley, and so I immediately offered him parsley. He wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. It took me a while to figure out that he will only eat Romaine lettuce. I even tried to mix the parsley and lettuce together, and he licked every single piece of vegetable in his tank and picked out all of the lettuce, leaving the parsley scattered and trampled into his sand. I haven't bothered offering parsley since then.

    His instincts tell him to burrow into the sand to sleep, and so several times a day he makes a big spectacle of marching around to find the warmest spot of sand (preferably under a rock or in his little cave), push away the top layer with his arms, and then do a full body wiggle (much like a snake) to burrow half-way into the warm sand. He digs and burrows a lot, especially in and around his cave. It worries me, because I have run a heat cord through his sand to help keep him warm enough, and every time he borrows, he uncovers a section of the cord.

    The desert iguana species is not closely related to the Giant Green Iguanas, and so Saule will only be about 16 inches long (head to tail) when fully grown. Desert iguanas are also runners, so he has one really long toe on each hind foot to help propel him through the sand faster. When he's decided that he doesn't want to be caught, it is very difficult to catch him! Desert iguanas have built-in thermometers; the warmer they are, the whiter their skin appears to be. When Saule is cold, his skin will be so dark grey that the black markings seem to blend right in. After a good long nap his belly and legs are very very white, and the black markings are very prominent.

    Once I do manage to catch him, he settles down very quickly on my hand and has even spent up to an hour on my shoulder while I did housework. He is fascinated by the turtle (desert iguanas are naturally curious creatures) and was delighted to be introduced to her, turtle style; smelling and licking each other's noses.

    I recently bought a big thing of juvenile iguana pellets to try and add some variety in his diet (as well as some more nutrition!) and he doesn't like them, surprise surprise. So I have taken to chopping his lettuce really tiny, watering down a few pellets, and mushing the lettuce and pellets together. It forces him to eat some nutritional pellets if he's hungry enough.

    I love my baby to pieces and wouldn't dream of choosing a different pet at this time. Best birthday present ever :)

Saule, the Pet of the Day
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Saule, the Pet of the Day
Saule, the Pet of the Day
Saule, the Pet of the Day
Saule, the Pet of the Day

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