Lorren & Blue the Green Iguana
Blue is an almost full-grown male green iguana that I adopted from Humane Animal Rescue when I was working there back in July 2016. He was brought in by City of Pittsburgh Animal Control after he was found roaming around a local city park (we think he was "set free" by his former caretaker(s) because they became overwhelmed with caring for a 3-foot iguana). At the time I was working in Marketing as the Manager of Community Outreach and regularly took adoptable and educational animals to off-site events to inform folks in the community about shelter services, proper pet care, our current adoptable critters, volunteer/foster opportunities, all that good stuff!
I have always been very fond of the nontraditional animal companions and was rather quick to scoop up the reptiles that were brought in to the shelter. Well Blue was no exception and after walking past his tank that was kept in a hallway one too many times I finally caved and took the 3-foot, 5 pound lizard home for good. Blue quickly became one of the more frequent animals to accompany me to off-site events after I adopted him and he was always a fan favorite because large green iguanas, and reptiles in general, are not a frequent sight in Western PA. Blue and I have since left our positions at HAR, but still do what we can to spread the good word about their services, but Blue does still accompany me to off-site events (I'm a museum educator now!) where he continues to be an ambassador for green iguanas/reptiles and adoption! We also just celebrated Blue's 3rd adoptiversary on July 11th as well as his (approximate) 7th birthday!
About Blue's FriendshipCollars
Blue is 5-foot long from tip of the nose to tail and currently weighs a little over 10lbs. He is sporting "Blue Without You" & "Stud Muffin." Picking the "Blue Without You" collar set was a no brainer and it is by far our current favorite! But the "Stud Muffin" design comes in an extremely close second. We love both the designs so dang much and the sizing is perfect.
Blue doesn't fuss over the collar, which he wears to off-site events and whenever we're out and about town or traveling, which is HUGE because if he is annoyed with something he will do whatever it takes to scratch it loose or off. He can get out of harnesses super easy but doesn't mind the FriendshipCollar one bit! They have been a serious game changer and we couldn't be happier with them!
Now Blue is a 7-year old male green iguana. Green iguanas are large arboreal lizards that are native to Central and South America and can live to be 20+ years old in human care. And while they are gorgeous and impressive creatures to look at they are also notorious for being extremely moody critters and they get BIG and can live a long time. Male green iguanas can grow to be 5-7 feet in length and weigh up to 15-20lbs when fully grown! And male greens iguanas also tend to have the worst tempers, especially during "breeding season," and can become extremely territorial. These tantrums are just something that comes with owning a male iguana (females tend to be a little mellower but can also have quite an attitude).
Green iguanas also require an enclosure that grows with them, specialized lighting (UVA/UVB & basking), specific temperature & humidity ranges, accessories to climb on, as well as, a specific herbivorous diet with added vitamins. All of this is a big reason why they're not recommended as a "beginner" reptilian pet and also why several are "set free" or taken to a shelter after just a few years. BUT they can make absolutely wonderful companions if you're willing to put the time and energy into working with them!
Why Choose a Reptile as a Companion?
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE every form of animal but with my work schedule and current living arrangements I have just never been able to commit to getting a furry creature. A lovely perk of reptiles is that they are a bit more self sustaining than cats, dogs, and other small mammals and are often quite content with being left to their own devices. This is great for someone that travels a lot, works long hours or multiple shifts, lives in a place with animal restrictions, or wants a hypoallergenic/quiet/contained creature. That being said, depending on the species of reptile, they can also be rather challenging to keep and care for.
Living with Blue
I adopted Blue when he was about 3-years old. He was a little 3-foot iguana that lived in a giant kitten "condo" cage back then. Fast forward three years and he's now a 5-foot long iguana with A LOT of emotions that now lives in a massive 7'x4'x6' cage, that was originally intended for macaws, in his very own room in my apartment!
Although Blue has a giant enclosure he actually spends quite a lot of time outside of it free roaming the apartment. Since he is an outreach/education animal and is used to being a social butterfly and the center of attention he tends to follow folks around and is always curious as to what you're doing. And whenever he becomes bored or tired he retreats to his favorite spot in the apartment, which happens to be the back of the couch.
Despite being a very large cold-blooded reptile, Blue does act similarly to a cat. He loves lounging on perches above everyone's head, enjoys looking out the window at birds, and every now and then loves a good back rub & lap nap. And just like a cat, he does have one heck of an attitude and can be extra sassy when he's upset. That said, he isn't terribly fond of being left alone and will become very territorial and defensive when we come home from a short weekend trip, and will show just how displeased he was with our absence by pooping right in the middle of the floor (upset puppy style) as soon as he is let out of his cage.
It's definitely an adventure living with a 5-foot lizard, and while they're super unique as well as challenging creatures to care for they also do tend to behave pretty similarly to a cat/dog! I honestly couldn't imagine life without him in it and I'm so very thankful for the shelter that took him in when he was no longer wanted. He's a good grumpy boy and I wouldn't have him any other way!