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Iguanas abandoned, one dies

Veterinarian Brent Johnson holds a sick iguana that was brought to the Animal Care & Laser Center for emergency medical treatment last week. The lizard was one of two reptiles apparently abandoned at a North Whidbey home. - Jessie Stensland
Veterinarian Brent Johnson holds a sick iguana that was brought to the Animal Care & Laser Center for emergency medical treatment last week. The lizard was one of two reptiles apparently abandoned at a North Whidbey home.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland

An Island County animal control officer is looking for donations to save the life of a three-foot iguana that was abandoned in a North Whidbey home.

The hapless lizard is suffering from a metabolic bone disease and will need surgery to remove an egg-sized “iguana stone,” according to Animal Control Officer Carol Barnes.

A “concerned citizen” contacted animal control last Wednesday, Barnes said, and reported that there were possible abandoned iguanas in a vacant North Whidbey home.

She went to the home and found two reptiles, a male and a female, in an aquarium-type cage.

Barnes took the iguanas to Oak Harbor’s Animal Care & Laser Center for emergency medical treatment. Veterinarian Brent Johnson immediately tried to warm the creatures with heat lights, but was unable to save the skinny male.

“It was really sad,” Barnes said. “It really broke my heart.”

Johnson said both iguanas seemed to be suffering from metabolic bone disease, a common condition in pet iguanas that can be caused by improper lighting or inadequate food and water.

“At that point,” he said, “they can break their bones really easily.”

Johnson said the larger female lizard has a better chance of surviving, though the dinosaur-looking critter has noticeable bone wasting and slack skin. On top of that, the iguana has a stone that is blocking its digestive system and needs surgery to remove it.

The green iguana, according to the Emory Animal Hospital web site, is the world’s most popular pet lizard.

The reptile, which looks prehistoric with a crest of tooth-like scales along its back and lengthy tail, can grow up to six feet long and lives to 15 years in captivity. The vegetarian lizards originally come from South and Central America.

Barnes said she is “continuing to look into the matter” of the abandoned iguanas. In the meantime, she hopes that folks who want to help save the iguana send money.

“It’s not in our budget, unfortunately,” she said, ”to save reptiles’ lives.”

Donations can be sent to Iguana Rescue, c/o Animal Care & Laser Center, 33285 State Highway 20, Oak Harbor, WA 98277.

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