The Iguana Den




Ethics of Breeding

The following is a post from Gail made to the IguanaDen list following a volatile discussion on the breeding of iguanas.

Perspective from the list owner and moderator:

Discussing the breeding of iguanas as a scientific/intellectual gain is fine, as long as it sticks to the scientific facts, breeding behavior,
breeding seasons, gravidity, egg binding, MBD form eggs, torn hemipenes, hemipenal bulges, femoral pores, etc.

If your iguanas are not breeding, which is strange as they breed at the drop of a hat, it is because of one or more of the following reasons:
1. Age
2. Wrong mix of sexes
3. poor overall health
I am betting 3, as I hope you are not ignorant enough to have 1 or 2 wrong.

Breeding igs only requires a male and female of the correct age and in reasonable health. A health iguana is sexually mature at 1 year. A healthy female will lay eggs annually with no problems. However, a female on the borderline of health will have problems which could lead to MBD, egg binding, and death.

A healthy male will breed, whether in season or not. A healthy male will bite and claw a female, whether she is in season or not.

A female may or may not appreciate the attention, whether in season or not.

Problems that can occur:

  • Cuts, bites, and scrapes that can lead to stitches, abscesses and serious infections or even death from bleeding out
  • Damaged hemipenes that can lead to serous infections and death
  • Egg binding
  • Starvation/dehydration leading to MBD and/or renal failure/damage or liver damage
  • Loss of life, limbs, eyes, etc.

From the perspective of the President and Chairman of the Board of a 501c rescue organization and the adoption coordinator of the 501c NJHS

Iguana's prices should reflect the ultimate cost of the yearly care of a healthy iguana. The species that come through the rescue the most are the ones that are sold cheaply, require specialized care, and get big. In order: iguanas, RTB, large reticulated pythons, RES, Savannah monitors, ball pythons.

Without exception, these animals can be purchased for less than $20. Except for the Ball pythons, all require a large cage. All require a specialized diet and special heat and lights.

For example, a 3 year old iguana requires (remember, buy for the bigger. Add another $75 for a hatchling for a start cage and set up)

Start-up-- 8 x 6 x 2.5 foot cage ($200+) fixtures ($40 for strip light and 2 reflectors) food and water dishes ($10), litter box ($5), extension cord and power strip ($25), spray bottle ($2), Parvocide for cleaning ($20) ramps/logs/shelves (depends)

$302+ (mine are a lot more)

Monthly-- $15-30+ in electricity a month ($420 a year)-mine is 4 x that per iguana, $30+ in food a month ($360 a year), $100 in UVB bulbs (mine get 2 x Powersuns and 4 x 48 inch bulbs from Eagle, all changed 2 x a year, so you are looking at $400 a year), vet check and fecal ($80, more if blood work and x-ray for bone density), another vet check and x-ray for females ($120),
CHE ($35), incandescent bulbs ($10)

$990 male and $1110 female. More if sick, in rehab, or if you give the proper amount of UVB to light a 8 foot cage. Most people do not. I spend $45 for greens every 3 days for 6 iguanas.

Now, if iguanas were given a price of $150, people might be willing to spend the money. On a free or $10 pet? Nope. Who cares? I can get another one cheaper. People are willing to spend money on what they consider worth it.

You are part of a group of the selected few who want and are willing to spend the money necessary to keep a cheap animal healthy!

Iguanas are not wanted by the masses. The masses don't know what iguanas are like. They see the cute, tiny, cheap hatchlings and think they will remain that way. Until people stop importing and selling iguanas without an exotic license and for less money than a movie, the demand will remain low, as will the price. Make iguanas rarer and harder to get, the price will go
up, as will the quality of their care. Make it necessary to obtain a specialized permit to keep iguanas, and I can get rid of a few cages.

Do I blame you for wanting to raise iguanas? No. I really understand. They are intelligent, gorgeous creatures. The babies are adorable. Raising hatchlings to a healthy juvenile state is rewarding. Watching them grow big, strong, and healthy is a blessing. Saying goodbye is hard. I raise bearded dragons. I sell them for quite a bit of money, but to only people who know what they are doing. Would I sell you one? Maybe. I don't know if your care is appropriate. I don't know if you know how to take care of one.

Would I adopt you an iguana? No. Why? I don't want to see one of my rehabs put through egg-laying, and then die, recess in rehab, or, even
worse, get one of the babies 1-4 years down the road.

If you breed and sell these babies, you become the enemy:

Every time a hatchling comes into rehab sick, yellow, and half-dead because the pet store said a 20 gallon and pellets will do, or because they
"researched" and found that information, I will blame YOU!

When I hold any iguana who was fed improperly because the pet store told them wrong, and it closes its eyes for the final sleep due to renal failure, I will blame YOU!

When a twisted, emaciated iguana comes into rehab with MBD, dehydration, and liver damage, I will blame YOU!

When I keep getting 3-5 calls a week for iguanas to be surrendered, I will blame YOU!

When I spend $1500 having a blockage removed, kidneys flushed, or any rehab because the iguana was improperly cared for before being abandoned, I will blame YOU!

When I work my butt off to get laws passed controlling the sale of iguanas and it fails because you keep the price low, I will blame YOU!

People who breed iguanas need to know that a healthy female will have between 35 and 80 eggs. Are you going to hand place those iguanas in your area? No. Will your pet store? No. Will you adopt them all out to carefully screened homes? Nope.

Think about it.



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