Wild Vs. "Cultivated" ("Farmed") Green Iguanas
...and why your cute new baby iguana needs to see a reptile vet.
©1996, 2000 Melissa Kaplan
Many iguanas sold in the trade are 'farm-bred' or merely 'farmed.' The former means that they were hatched of eggs laid by captively bred females and males. Most, however, are merely farmed: hatched from eggs laid by wild caught (and released after laying) females or from eggs dug up in the wild and brought to the farm for incubation. The baby iguanas are kept in huge pens where food is thrown in. They are not handled other than to be roughly grabbed and thrown into packing crates. In some areas, the eggs are sliced out of the female, the female crudely sewn back up and let go, the assumption being that she will survive to lay again. Right. No wonder they are on CITES II (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Appendix II: Threatened).
Many exporters are undercutting their competition by capturing wild iguana hatchlings and yearlings and selling them to U.S. importers eager to save $0.50 a lizard (current prices of iguanas sold in "lots" of 100 or more range in the $2.50-$3.00 per iguana range; needless to say, no one is going to spend much money to make sure they are cared for properly, treated for injuries and parasites, fed properly, etc.
Note: Based on the data I obtained from the USFWS for the year 1998, the price of imported iguanas was:
The crates are then shipped around to the ordering importer/wholesaler. There the iguanas are dumped into other bins, generally with the dead and dying not sorted out. If they are lucky, some form of food and water is thrown in with them. They are then grabbed and stuffed in shipping containers to be sent to pet stores.
bred iguanas are tamer than wild or farmed ones."
makes my iguana nasty."
Many stores are proudly claiming their igs are captive bred or farmed as if that makes for a healthier animal and enables them to claim they don't carry wild caught (if that actually enters their consciousness as being a bad thing...). The fact of the matter, however, is that the farmed ones are little different in health and attitude from wild ones, especially with exporters throwing in wild caught ones to fill out their orders to maximize their profits.
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