Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

Mikey: Earlier Journals

June 1999 through

The Mommy



SVL 7". Eating mango, nasturtium leaves, flowers, green beans, assorted leafy greens, and occasional tortoise chow, daily. Pooping daily, normal feces and urates.

Starting shed. Sheds without problems.

SVL 7.5". On third shed. Comfortably free roaming (no more serious hiding); thermoregulates well in ig room, den, living room and sometimes bedroom; goes into bathroom and climbs into and out of the tub on his own.

SVL: 9" STL: 21" Free roaming, now sleeping on top shelf sometimes. Dealing with Rugwort in that he won't run from him, but isn't real comfortable in his presence yet. Doesn't cower from Sluggo anymore when he sees him. With cooler weather/rainy/overcast days, he isn't coming into the den every morning, though he will sometimes still go into the bathroom for a bath. Has taken showers with me, hanging on the towels over the curtain rod, coming into the tub when I'm nearly done.

SVL: 9.75" STL: 24.25. More than comfortable with Rugwort now - intimidates the hell out of him. He is scared of Sluggo, but that probably has more to do with the fact that Sluggo looks so odd and Sluggo charged him a couple of times a couple of weeks ago. After getting a mouse and an evening out, Sluggo has retired and not bothered Mikey again. Have to see what happens next time Sluggo emerges from brumation. Mike loves mice - always looking for one when he's eating, and will stop feeding if I open the freezer. He has gone after one of Sluggo's adult mice (when Sluggo wasn't around) grabbing and shaking it, entrails flying all over. The mouse was too big (even minus entrails) so I cut it in half medially. He ate the head but left the hind. Very comfortable being handled and petted by other people. Now that the book is over, I need to start spending more time with him. Looking into getting a soft carrier so that when the weather warms up I can take him with me.

Took Mike on an outing yesterday with some other people. Still have not found a soft carrier, so I appropriated a friend's soft leather trunk-like oversized purse. A towel inside and hot water bottle underneath, and he was quite comfortable. In car, he sat on the arm of the passenger in the back seat, taking avid interest in watching us and the traffic and scenery flow by. One of our stops was a winery. When the tasting room had emptied out, save for us, I opened the zipper on the shoulder bag. Mikey emerged to rest, with his chest and forearms on my hand. He watched the activity with interest, sitting quietly. When he was spotted, he became the center of attention, with other employees coming into see him and photograph him. He was completely relaxed, accepting petting and close inspection with ease. On the way home, again laying on the passenger's arm, he decided that it was time for a nap. As related by the passenger, Mikey looked down into the opening of his temporary travel bag, looked up at the passenger, and dove down into bag, circling around the towel and promptly going to sleep. The following morning, he was alert, relaxed, and ate well.

By a happy convergence of events, I made use of some steep discounts on a soft Sherpa Lite bag I found at When I came, I set it up, unzipped the top, and put Mike inside. He sat happily inside, looking at me through the mesh sides. I zipped up the top and carried him around a bit - no problem. The problem came when I unzipped the end and he wouldn't come out, glaring at my not so subtle hint ("Out you go, Mike!". So, knowing when I'm beat, I put the carrier with the unzipped end pointing towards his heating pad on his basking area. When I went to check on him 20 minutes later, he had turned around in the carrier and was bird-watching through the mesh out the windows. After another 10 minutes or so, I nudged him out. During this interval, I had to deal with a green iguana gone brown and clearly not happy with the perceived special treatment Mike got. So, I put Rugwort in the bag and left him in the room where he could make sure that Mike saw him in the bag. A half hour or so later, his hurt feelings assuaged and point made, he exited the bag and returned to his basking area.

SVL 10"; STL 25". Just as green iguanas bliss out when having their heads rubbed, Mike loves his chest rubbed. He will lift his head, neck and chest up off the surface, facilitating your reach by raising up his leg.

Sleeping with Rugwort occasionally now. On several nights, he has gone over to Rugwort and inserted himself between Rugwort and the wall, spending the night there. Rugwort normally chooses to spend the first part of the night on the east heat pad or near it on the south shelf, moving to the west one sometime during the night. Thus far, Mikey remains in the same place he fell asleep in on the south shelf.

Found Mike on the west shelf this morning.

At this morning's feeding, when determined staring did not produce the desired results (mouses), Mike deliberately places his vent over the chunk of green pepper placed out for the tortoises to gnaw on, and proceeded to do the poopy dance while continuing to stare fixedly at me.

SVL 10.5"; 26" STL. He's now up on the shelves every night, sometimes sleeping with Rugwort, sometimes on his own. With the advent of sunny days, he's spending some time each morning clambering through the living room before his morning bath and breakfast.

SVL 11"; 28.76" STL. A significant behavioral change over the past month. No longer does he dart when I reach out to pet him or lean close. He is starting to lean himself - upwards in anticipating of getting his neck and chest rubbed. About the only problem is that not only does he try to steal the small adult mice (3" SVL) I put down for the blue-tongue skink, he now downs them without dismembering and eviscerating them. As a result he is getting animal protein far less frequently than he'd like. He is good about eating the greens and vegetable/fruit flower, and goes as crazy for nasturtium flowers as he does for mousies. Interestingly enough, his enthusiasm for nasturtiums has resulted in a bit of flower-feeding competition with Rugwort, the green iguana. Rugwort, who before was just as likely to pass on the flowers as he was to eat them, will now grab them to make sure I don't give Mikey his flowers as well.

At this point, Mike is a bare quarter of an inch shorter SVL than is Rugwort, though Rugwort still outmasses him, and his head is larger overall than is Mike's. There is some competition for the same basking or sleeping spot, even though there are multiple, identical areas available to them. After an initial scrabbling of claws and shifting of bodies, they both settle down, often sleeping adjacent or in contact with one another, other times sleeping like bookends at opposite ends of the L-shaped shelf, each with his head on the "pillow" formed by the roll of cloth stapled to the ends of the shelf which form the climber to the floor 6 feet below.

SVL 11.5 in., 29" STL. Just two days after the first anniversary of his arrival, I marvel at how far he has come, both in growth as well as his attitude and behavior. Now, instead of perceiving me as a pain-in-the-neck and potential predator, I am only occasionally an annoyance and regular provider of food, and especially welcomed when I come bearing nasturtiums and mice. He appears to enjoy being petted, adopting the same raised position that Rugwort does as the petting progresses, though in Mikey's case, it is to facilitate my access to stroking his dewlap and chest. He rarely runs when encountered outside of the iguana room, and never now when I approach him in the room when he is in one of his basking, lounging or sleeping areas.

SVL 13 in., 33.75" STL. Well, Mikey keeps a-growing and maturing. Much calmer than he was, and much bigger than he was, he's a very handsome lizard. His tail has developed rings of very pale scales that also jut out caudally so it is developing into a very fine weapon, not to speak of shredding human skin quite effectively. I've taken him to several softball games on warmer evenings. He is quite alert, watching the action on the field. He does object when the next teams scheduled to play start arriving and begin talking noisily, the only time during the 1.5-2 hour stretch that he gets the least bit antsy.

He is now almost two inches SVL longer than Rugwort (who measures, overall, only 22.5 inches). They still face each other off when one wants to pass the other on the L-shelf, but otherwise are getting along okay. They come down to eat at different times and have adopted different favorite basking and lounging areas that they use throughout the day.

Mike is still short enough that he can swim in the bathtub, which he does whenever I move him towards the deeper (drain) end - he turns, ducks under the water and swims to the other end. Incredibly beautiful to watch.

September 2000

Just a quick update on the occasion of Mikey's 4th hatchday. He grew another quarter inch in his tail over the past month, now 13" SVL and 34" STL. He's doing just great, though he did bob at me twice in the past week - for the first time since he tamed! Both times I was working with or talking to Rugwort, so the competition between the two remains strong.

Just a few months shy of his fourth birthday, Mike's now 15" SVL, 29.75" STL. The growth in the last two years has been amazing, as used to it as I am with green iguanas. His jowls are rounding out and he is leaving the tell-tale melted mozzarella cheese (seminal) deposits when he defecates as well as whenever the mood strikes him. With the advent of spring-like weather, he is starting to roam the house on most days, climbing on everything he can. (His particular joy lately seems to be climbing onto my bed and clearing off the contents of the top of my nightstand, which led to the discovery that, while the $22 bottle of liquid prescription medicine I keep up there may be child-proof, it is not Cyclura proof, as it opened and spilled its nearly full contents on the floor when he knocked it off.)

Mike will eat just about anything in the food bowl, but always waits around before digging in, often for a considerable amount of time if I am in the kitchen, just in case there will be a worm, mouse, cooked chicken or other favored appetizer. He is calmer overall, but still likely to fuss a bit when first picked up. When approached in the ig room and often out of it, he no longer runs, even when I reach up/down to touch him or pick him up.

When his face shows signs of upcoming shed (rostral skin turns white), he even more calm when being held. While he seems to be quieter during these periods, he still actively thermoregulates, using 3-5 different spots regularly in the iguana room, and while not as active outside the IR, still leaves it and cruises through at least one other room each day.

Even though he is bigger (longer, taller and heavier) than Rugwort, the green iguana, he still insists on asserting himself, though generally restricting it to mornings and late afternoons. Once Mikey is down for the night, Rugwort can clamber all over him without reaction.

An interesting note is that Mike is apparently afraid of Sluggo, the 22" STL blue-tongue skink. When Sluggo comes in to bask, Mike goes into full threat mode no matter how high above Sluggo he is (basking shelves range from 4-6 ft above the floor), and will lunge at him when he is on the ground with Sluggo and Sluggo approaches him. This has Sluggo rather confused as he has never experienced such a reaction from any of the green iguanas, regardless of their size. If fact, one of Sluggo's favorite resting places was to worm his way under a large green iguana so that part of the iguana's weight was resting - pushing - on Sluggo.

15.5" SVL; 39.5" STL; 8+ lbs. Spring for Mikey is like spring for a lot of species: a time of restlessness, re-exploring areas not visited since before winter set in, eating like crazy, and wanting to go outside. I set up some planks over my tortoise pen and, using a couple of dog collars and a leash, put Mike on them for sun, fresh air, and al fresco dining on the geraniums and chards growing up out of the pen. Since softball season is starting again, that means a few outings to the ball park on heat-wave nights and some weekend tournaments.

Mike has also become quite communicative about what he wants when it comes to his baths. He pounds on the inside walls of the tub to make enough noise to summon me. Once the water is up to his neck, he lays quietly until the water cools off more than he likes or enough dribbles through the not-quite-tight drain plug to lower it more than he likes. At that point, he splashes around, jumping in and out of the tub, until I come in and top it all off again with warm water. Unfortunately, with water and gas prices (and conservation issues) being what they are, he is unhappy that he only gets 3 top-offs.

When he wants to go outside and I don't respond fast enough to satisfy him (he gives me about half an hour), he has discovered a new trick to catch my attention: he climbs up on the leather couch and stares at me. If that doesn't work, he poops on the couch and stalks off.

SVL: 16.5" STL: 42.5". Rather more time has elapse since my last update than I'd realized, so I'll have to put something together for his fourth birthday.

SVL: 17" STL: 44.5"; 4.5 kg. As is probably evident from his continued growth, Mikey is prospering, eating (and pooping) prodigiously. In the two and one-half years, he has settled into daily and seasonal routines and habits. Despite his now greatly out weighing/massing/sizing the blue-tongue skink, he remains apprehensive and goes into hatched mode (lateral compression, standing on straightened legs, gular skin puffed out) whenever Sluggo comes close. While he is tolerant of most things humans do - and wear - he continues to be freaked out by Hawaiian shirts of any color or pattern. When he spies them in the distance, he raises up his forequarters and bobs. Come any closer, and he shies away, even to the point of refusing belly rubs once the offensive shirt has been removed and set aside. As the season slides from summer to fall, he once again seems to be disappointed that I am not making the overcast rainy days go away.

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