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Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

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Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby Ash » Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:53 am

Ctenosaura pectinata, Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

As many of you know, I recently acquired a trio of spinytailed iguanas.

I've owned them for a couple of weeks now, and they are adjusting really well, so I thought it was about time to post some pictures of these beauties!

There is a male, a probable female, and a definite female.

They are all the same age, but the confirmed female is large because she was fed insects when younger. After doing a lot of researching on the species and contacting reputable breeders of pectinatas, I've learned that members of the Ctenosaurus genus really benefit from eating insects when they are young. According to field studies, young pectinatas will eat insects even when other food is available; they are not eating them by accident like many people once thought, but are actually choosing the insects as a primary food source when they are young. As they age and mature, however, they adjust their diet and eat what an iguana "should be" eating. They are not affected negatively by eating the insects, unlike many other species of iguanas (especially the greens, which are truly strict herbivores and would suffer kidney damage).

These particular iguanas are farm-bred imports that are 2.5 years old. They were supposed to be high-yellow, but actually turned out to be high-blue in color. Just like how Kelly Paul started the "banana" phase of pectinatas (very bright, yellows), I would like to start my own lines breeding specifically for the blue coloration.

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce Fault, Phoenix, and Ice. :)

First up is Fault. Fault is the male, and the tiniest of the trio, missing part of his tail. He should grow into his blue colors as he gets larger. There are definite patches of blue, and he should get more and more aqua-colored with age. His previous owner speculates that he will have the highest amount of blue on him by the time he is full grown.

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Fault is easy to handle, friendly, and overall very relaxed. He's a good little guy.

Second is Phoenix. A probable female (still too small to know for certain; she has small femoral pores, but also has a bulge), she is the most colorful of the group. Very vibrant blues and orange on her. Definitely the looker of the trio. As cliche as this sounds, the pictures of her do NOT do her any justice; she really needs to be seen in person (or I need to take better pictures and video) in order for her colors to really be appreciated. She is simply gorgeous despite also missing a part of her tail.

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She is wary, alert, and watchful. Probably the most timid, but relaxes when she is in your hand. Phoenix is slowly starting to warm up, but certainly remains the most flighty. She will open her mouth at you when you pick her up.

Third, and last, is Ice. She is a definite female. Ice is the least blue of the bunch; instead, she has a lot of slate-gray coloring and black. But there are some "redeeming" sprinklings of blue. Ice is the largest because she was fed insects when younger. Like the others, she has lost part of her tail at some point in her life--her tail will probably be the shortest. She also has lost the ends of two of her toes.

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Ice has a difficult personality to describe. She is at ease, but confident. Bold and personable. She does not trust me fully, but she has taken very well to handling.

All three are already taking food from my hand readily. Once they get more used to me, I'm certain they will be easier to bond with. This is a great step in the right direction.

I'm feeding them a very healthy iguana diet. Their staple food consists of watercress, collard greens, acorn squash, and yucca root with mangoes for treats. They are all eating well--Fault and Ice being the better eaters. Phoenix does not feel comfortable eating when I'm around, and she only picks through her "salad" and eats a few things. Fault does not seem to have any particular preferences. Ice always eats her carrots first. Of course, all of them love their fruit best; and Phoenix will eat her mango slices from my hand.

I will be feeding Fault and Phoenix insects until they are around Ice's size. Then, like her, they will solely be eating salad. Fault eats his dubia roaches with gusto. I need to buy a colony so that I can breed my own.

Hydration is an issue. It's very, very dry in Utah, so they have more wrinkles in their skin than I would care to see. Goal should be no wrinkles, lol. So I am still trying to figure out a better way to keep them hydrated. In the meantime, I will be giving them cantaloupe and watermelon to help with their hydration needs.

They've all been "snalting," lol. Iguanas expel excess salt through their nose. They sneeze out salt. I've always heard about snalting, but this is the first time I've actually been able to see it. All their noses are clean and clear. Phoenix was open-mouth breathing for the first little while, but once I gave her a bath and got her nose cleaned, she's been fine; she was just too dry.

I want them to be outdoor lizards while the weather is good. This will help me save money--I won't have to purchase UVB lighting until winter time. Right now, they have their outdoor enclosures but I bring them in at nighttime and put them in tanks to sleep. Ideally, they will have better indoor cages, but they are currently only using the tanks to sleep in.

Fault and Phoenix are a compatible pair, so when outside I house them together in a screen cage (Reptibreeze). Ice is bigger, so she is housed in her own enclosure that I built for her: a 3'X6'X3' wire cage. Unlike the more commonly-kept green iguana, spinytailed iguanas are less arboreal and more terrestrial, so I felt it was most important to provide extra floor space as opposed to climbing space. Since I've had them though, I've noticed they definitely appreciate being able to climb and go up high. So in the future I will be sure to provide extra height for their enjoyment.

Here's a picture of Ice's cage. I made it so that it could be disassembled quickly.

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And here is a picture of what they've been eating over the last few days.

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Anyway, thank-you for looking at my cute little scaley-babies. I will post more pictures later, especially once I take better ones of Phoenix. And I will keep you all updated on "Project Blue" as they grow and reach breeding size. :)
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby naja-naja » Sat Aug 15, 2015 2:18 am

can't wait to see pics in a year's time after they've grown into their colors, they look great!
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby Ash » Sat Aug 15, 2015 3:50 am

They're so beautiful. :) Their colors really come out when they're put in the sun. Today when I went to pull them from their outdoor enclosures, I was shocked at how blue everybody was. Even Ice had a long patch of blue along her side. And Phoenix and Fault's lips were... this color! :lol:

It's crazy what natural sunlight will do for their colors. I really need to take pictures of them when they are outside.

I found out today that all three are crazy over cantaloupe. I took some cantaloupe out to Ice today, and the moment she saw it, she started going nuts. She wanted it SO much, she was trying to press her face through the wire to get to it!

She'd reach out, take a bit of the fruit and the rind, and then just rip a piece off with voracity, lol. I should have taken a video. It was very funny watching her "attack" the fruit! Even Phoenix charged the cantaloupe headfirst.
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby Ash » Sat Sep 05, 2015 1:40 am

Had the WORST scare a while ago, but it's a good story, so figure I should share it.

I got home late from work, and, as usual, went to go bring in the iguanas from outside. Fault and Phoenix were brought in. And then when I went to go get Ice out of her enclosure... she was gone.

Needless to say, I was distraught. It was pitch-black outside, I live in the middle of the country in the middle of a giant field, surrounded by orchards... I thought I had lost her. My family and I got flashlights, and went looking for her through all the grass. At that point in time, I truly believed she would never be found...

My sisters had been out earlier that day and had noticed Ice wasn't in her enclosure. But both of them had just assumed I hadn't taken her outside that morning and that she was in the garage. They had gone outside at 10:40 am that morning. So Ice had been missing ALL DAY LONG from her enclosure.

After about an hour of searching, hope lost, I spotted two inches of her tail sticking out the end of one of the rain gutters. Needless to say, I was relieved... At least I'd found her. However, I knew that she probably had gotten up there during the heat of the day--and in a metal gutter like that, she would have been cooking. It had been 94 degrees... When I peaked in at her, her feet were oddly contorted. I poked her, and she did not move at all. She was stuck, completely wedged in.

At this point, we were pretty sure she was dead, but we didn't know for sure. We couldn't get her out, so the only solution was to get a saw and cut the gutter in two, and then cut it off the corner of the house. Task finished, we carried the long piece into the garage where we had better lighting. This whole time, no movement from Ice.

I shone a flashlight down the end, and I saw her all crumpled up inside. There were screws protruding into the gutter that she was stuck around. But I did see her beady black eyes, and she blinked at me. So I knew she was alive.

With some wire cutters and pliers, we opened up the gutter. Took about thirty minutes to do it without hurting her. Harder to do than you think it would be.

Finally, I pulled her out. She was alive, but very dehydrated. No burns on her either, thankfully. I took her inside and immediately put her in to soak in the sink. I fed her pieces of watermelon to rehydrate her, and she ate them up. After about thirty minutes, she was back to her normal self.

After this incident, Ice has been very bonded to me. I think somehow she recognizes that I saved her from the gutter. I had gotten her really tamed down before, but now I think she truly likes me. She will come to me now, crawl down my shirt or up my sleeve, and fall fast asleep against my skin. There is nothing more adorable than a cute iguana seeking you out and using you as their bed and blanket.

I know she's just a lizard, but I'm certain this is her way of saying, "thanks for rescuing me, human!"

The bond I have with Ice is great. And hopefully I will be able to develop the same bond with Fault and Phoenix, but not in such a drastic way!
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby naja-naja » Sat Sep 05, 2015 1:09 pm

I'm glad you got ice back, there is a lot to be said for double checking security on enclosures!!!
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby Ash » Sat Sep 05, 2015 8:11 pm

naja-naja wrote:I'm glad you got ice back, there is a lot to be said for double checking security on enclosures!!!


No kidding. I'm ultra paranoid too about that sort of thing. I replaced the door on my wire enclosure (the 3X6X3') and the door got jarred loose.

It's a good thing I'm building them a better enclosure this coming Thursday/Friday. It'll be a big, secure 3X6X6' enclosure. I need two of them, but I may only get around to building one. I can always alternate though and switch them back and forth between cages so they all get their share of the "big one." :lol:

Remember the one iguana being sold at the petshop? Turns out the sale fell through. They were really excited and happy to tell me this, lol, and would like for me to buy him. And I would LOVE to have him. I just don't think I can afford it right now. But I looked at him again, and he was much bigger than I remembered.

If I had the money, I'd snatch him up or do some sort of payment plan to get him, but I don't know if it's possible money-wise at the moment. We'll see though. I'd absolutely love to have him. Then I would have a little iguana quartet! :lol:

Iguanas certainly are more expensive to care for than something like, say, a monitor. Being herbivores and needing UVB really has its downsides. It's fun, but gets old having to prepare their food day-in, day-out. Need a better system.

But I love my little ones.
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby naja-naja » Sun Sep 06, 2015 6:51 am

I disagree with them being more expensive then a monitor, at least with iguanas you can feed them stuff from a grocery store or what's growing wild in a garden, but with monitors with certain species you could be feeding them 6 boxes of insects a week or rodents, and they need UV too!

if you find preparing thrie food a hassle every day, you can prepare a weeks worth at once, about 2-3 days worth will keep if chilled, and the rest you can freeze, it will only lose vitamin B, so you'll need to supplement that, but if you're dusting with a multi vitamin anyway that's ok.
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby Ash » Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:11 pm

That's true, but I guess I'm coming from the standpoint of raising my own feeders, lol. So in that case I kind of view all their food as "free," lol. I guess it technically isn't since I have to feed them too and spend money and time on their care.

I was always so worried about UVB costs, but it's really not a big deal at all. Especially since I'm taking advantage of the fact I can keep mine outdoors the majority of the time. Will just have to worry about it during the winter months.

Most of the breeders I've spoken to who keep the big monitors don't use UVB. They're carnivores like snakes, so don't require it. That's what I've been told by many people, but it never hurts to use it though--even with snakes they benefit from UVB. I'd love to keep my monitors outdoors like the iguanas, but in big enclosures.

EDIT: Oh, you're probably talking about the heat bulbs, lol.
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby naja-naja » Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:01 am

Ash wrote:Most of the breeders I've spoken to who keep the big monitors don't use UVB. They're carnivores like snakes, so don't require it. That's what I've been told by many people, but it never hurts to use it though--even with snakes they benefit from UVB. I'd love to keep my monitors outdoors like the iguanas, but in big enclosures.

monitors do require uvb, the school of thought that they don't require it is considered to be outdated now. they will 'survive' without it for extended periods of time, but it will shorten their lifespan and lessen the quality of their life. many keepers who have 'tame' monitors will also be those who don't use uvb, keep their animals too dry, feed them too much... if their conditions were changed, the animals wouldn't be so tame any more... they are actually just lethargic.
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby Ash » Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:38 pm

Interesting. Thanks for sharing that.
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby GitaBooks » Thu Sep 10, 2015 3:55 pm

I just wanted to say, I loved your story! You made me want Spiny-tailed iguanas all over again. You take wonderful care of yours, they sound very content and healthy.

I'm really glad that Ice was okay, that would be really frightening.

Best of luck in your cage building! : )
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby Ash » Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:22 am

Thank-you. :) I really love them so much. I had read mixed reviews about their temperaments online. I find all three of them very personable. Phoenix hasn't really warmed up to me yet, but she has no issues climbing me; she won't usually take food from my hand as readily as the other two do.

The 3X4X6 enclosure (those are the dimensions I've finally decided on) is for Ice and her future compatible mate. I will make another one for Fault and Phoenix--they get along very well and are similar-sized, so hopefully will also be compatible when older. I was told by a pectinata breeder this was a great size for a breeding pair. It'll have a foot of ecoearth on the bottom, shelves, and lots of tree limbs to climb on. :) Oh, and a hibiscus. I'd like to see if I could actually keep some plants alive in there for them to eat. Though Ice is heavy enough she'd probably just topple it over, lol. But she'd probably stay up higher anyway.

I found out that Ice does NOT like Phoenix, lol. If she sees Phoenix, she'll charge her. Nothing has happened, but it's good to know how they react to each other. The three times I've done "introductions," Ice runs at Phoenix. So the two of them won't ever be housed together unless something changes once they're both the same size. I've not seen Ice react negatively to Fault though, which is great.

Fault gets along with everybody and has been housed with Phoenix shortly after I brought them all home. They don't mind each other at all. However, Fault always eats first--but I think that may be because Phoenix has never eaten in front of me before, and Fault doesn't care if I'm there or not.

I keep them separated when I feed them so that I can monitor how much they are eating. I want to make sure Phoenix isn't stressed.
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby Ash » Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:45 pm

So the ig enclosure should be finished either today or tomorrow. :) I will try to post pictures of it once it's done. I think I'd like to go ahead and buy the substrates today though, just in case. It would be awesome to get them put in it today.
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby Laughing Hyena » Thu Sep 24, 2015 5:46 pm

Wow they are so cool I still kind of want the classic Green Iguana. :)
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Re: Mexican Spinytailed Iguana

Postby Ash » Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:23 pm

Laughing Hyena wrote:Wow they are so cool I still kind of want the classic Green Iguana. :)


Thank-you. I love them lots. I took Ice to the park today and she had a great time soaking in some rays. Greens are still on my list too!
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