When Your Iguana Gets Lost: Indoors and Out
Sooner or later, it is going to happen. That really secure enclosure really isn't, or you are just venturing into the realm of free-roaming time, and your iguana is doing what iguanas are going to do: hide in case you find them and plop them back into their enclosure, the last place they want to be.
©1994 Melissa Kaplan
Do another search, this time one room at a time. Tear everything apart. Look under the covers on the bed (one of my igs loved to cling to the side of the mattress - laying horizontally! - under the bedspread...). Feel up your clothes, check in your boots, check the high shelves. Carefully check the full length and width of drapes and blinds. Check behind things on shelves.
When you are done with that room, exit, close the door, and stuff a towel under it to block any little beastie from getting in or out (obviously, this is only necessary if the beastie is small enough - but remember how squishy herps can be when they are suitably motivated...).
Do this room to room. Use a hand mirror and flashlight to check behind and underneath furniture (including that wall-to-wall bookcase/entertainment center that takes five people to move) and appliances. Check on the rungs of chairs; behind the VCR or cable box. Check upholstered furniture carefully to see if there are any holes in the fabric that would allow an iguana to crawl into it. Don't just inspect warm places because all too often they are like little igcicles when found.
After you have gone through absolutely everything, check the closed rooms again to see if the iguana has emerged.
Make a note of any holes under cabinets and appliances and inside cabinets that you found during the course of your search, and, when you have found your iguana, go around and duct-tape all those openings - just because the iguana didn't find them this time (that you know of) doesn't mean he won't next time!
Depending upon the ig's nutritional status and health when it got out, and if he is hiding someplace warm or cool, he may or may not come through this escapade without any problems. At best you will have a cold but healthy ig...at worst, it will be reaaaally cold and dehydrated. When you find them, warm them up gently - you don't want to raise their body temperature too rapidly - and put fresh water and food in their enclosure.
Igs tend to hide the same places after awhile, so once he's been out a couple of times, you will know where to look first. The more the iguana is allowed out, the less they will hide over time to the point where they stop hiding altogether.
Are you beginning to detect a pattern here? Good! You will discern the same patterns with your own iguanas, too.
Divide the outside area into smaller sections. Sort of unfocus your eyes and just stare at an area, and be quiet - don't move around and don't think. Let your eyes take in all the shapes and subtle movements, and let your brain do the sorting...if the ig is there, it will suddenly 'jump' out at you. If no ig, start on another area. Repeat when you have reached the end of the area.
Remember that your bright green ig may not be looking so bright green if sitting in a dull green tree on a dark brown branch or on dappled sunshine...thus one of the reasons for not actively looking.
Do your initial searches in any warm areas - up against walls, anywhere where it will get nice and toasty from the sun, even on a cooler day.
Look at the best times - when the iguana is sure to be out basking in the mid to late mornings, and mid afternoons - where the best sun exposure in combination with leafy cover is.
You might also want to go out at night with a strong flashlight...researchers found that when they checked on iguana sleeping positions at night the igs did little but glare at them briefly before going back to sleep...but they chose different sleeping perches out of that area the next night just in case those rude things came back to disturb them some more.
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