A happy ctenosaur
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I ran the Charm City Reptile and Amphibian Rescue for 14 years (no longer in operation). Here is a story about the rescue of a couple of ctenosaurs.

Ctenosaur (baby dinosaur?)

The rescue received our first ctenosaur, also called a spiny-tailed iguana, a few years ago. The C is silent, so it is pronounced, tee-na-sore. Billy, a volunteer at the time, said he thought it looked like a baby dinosaur. If you’ve never seen one – they are awfully cute! They come from Central and South America and are like a second cousin to a green iguana. They have a more varied diet though. And, they are black, gray and white instead of green, blue, brown and/or orange.

There are several sub-species that range in size from about two feet, including the tail, to about five feet, including the tail. The ctenosaur Billy picked up was one of the smaller species.

Ctenosaur #2

A woman called, and asked if we could take an iguana. I said we didn’t have space for any more. She explained that they really loved the lizard, but needed to place it and no one could help them. That’s a common story. I hear it just about every day, and most days more than once. Something the woman said made me think that she didn’t have a green iguana. I asked her if she could send a photo. She did. On my tiny phone screen, it kind of looked like a monitor and not an iguana.

I called her back and said, “I’m not sure what this is. Perhaps I need to take a closer look. It might be a monitor; in which case we could take it with the cage and a donation.” (This is what I always tell people.) I discovered it was a ctenosaur and was happy about that. This was our second one and it looked spectacular.

The woman called me back, and I told her what the lizard was and that we would take it. We set up an appointment, but she didn’t show up. That is not uncommon. People make appointments all of the time for surrenders and adoptions and don’t show up. Most of the time I never hear from them again. I felt a little annoyed this time because I had already posted the photo on our Facebook page; people were commenting on it.

About a month or so later, I got another call from the same woman. This time she told me she had a monitor lizard and she could send me a photo of it. She sent the exact same photo. I told her the same thing. We’d take it if we got the cage and a donation. She told me again how sad she was to get rid of this animal.

We set up another appointment for her to bring the animal. About 15 minutes before she was supposed to arrive, she sent a text saying she would have to reschedule.

I don’t know about you, but I hate to be jerked around by people. I was starting to lose my patience with this woman. She texted me that she would bring it later in the week. I texted back “okay.”

About a week later, she texted me and asked me, “Can I bring the lizard tonight?” We have set hours. I told her our hours more than once. She was starting to piss me off. I had somewhere to go at 6:00 p.m. She couldn’t make it.

We made another appointment for the next Sunday. On that Sunday, about 30 minutes before her appointment, she sent a text saying she’d like to “see the facility” before coming over.

I said, “Fine,” thinking she would come in, look around and then bring in the animal. She and her boyfriend actually showed up about 10 minutes before our hours were over. They were foreign. I gave them a little more leeway for that. Perhaps they didn’t understand how we do things here. They both had accents, but I couldn’t tell you their native country. I’m going to guess Sweden, Denmark or Norway. They were tall and blond! The guy was very upset about surrendering the animal. I could tell he was reluctant, and the woman was all about dumping it on us.

I’m going to take this opportunity to say that you should not give up the pets you love just because you are dating some gorgeous blond guy (or girl). I might understand if there were an allergy situation, but I think I’d still ditch the guy or try to come to some kind of compromise. Often times, the animals prove to be more loyal than the significant other. Think long and hard before you surrender an animal that you adore. I have heard so many people tell me a story about how they got rid of all of their reptiles and then broke up with the person and now are looking to get a whole new crop of animals. That’s not being a responsible pet owner.

But, I digress.

It took a few more weeks before they ended up bringing us the ctenosaur. We loved her though! She was very cool. I put her in one of the iguana cages with half-inch wire mesh. I say “her” because the people said that she laid eggs last year. It was a nice sized cage. The people said it was much larger than what she was living in at their house. The cage was seven feet tall by three feet wide and about three and a half feet deep. My beloved iguana, Jub-jub, who died about a month earlier, had lived there since the cage was built.

The first day I fed her was interesting because I was unclear as to what ctenosaurs ate. I hadn’t looked up information yet. I knew they ate vegetables, so I gave her the standard iguana salad, figuring I’d look up the diet in a book about ctenosaurs someone gave me. As I was feeding crickets to the fat tail geckos, the ctenosaur showed a lot of interest in the crickets. I have rubber tipped tongs that I use to feed the tarantulas so they don’t injure their fangs. I grabbed a cricket with the tongs and stuck the tongs through the wire mesh.

The ctenosaur dove down the branch and grabbed the cricket from the tongs. I looked up the diet and they do eat insects as well as vegetables and fruit. She loves eating bugs. I threw some mealworms and crickets into her feeding bin (it’s a plastic tub she can get in and out of, but the crickets can’t). She ran down and ate her salad first and then ate the insects.

Watching her eat, was fascinating. She is very cute! No wonder she was adopted quickly.

Please leave your comments below. 

Read more by Holli Friedland.

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