So, I took over the Adoption Chair position for our herp society at the beginning of this year. HOLY CRAP there are a lot of unwanted iguanas!! I was recently talking to the curator of reptiles at the Zoo in Seattle and she suggests I start recommending people have their nasty iguanas euthanized. I wonder if there is a tactful way to go about suggesting that to people? She didn't mince words when she suggested it to me.
Wish I had someone willing to do the whole clean-dress-and-BBQ thing for some of these monsters. It takes us 3-6 months to place each iguana, and I've been getting about 5 unwanted iguana calls every week. That's 20-30 iguanas a month people are trying to get rid of, and that's ONLY in the Northwest corner of Washington State! Obscene!

NOT TO MENTION how many of these animals are seriously ill with MBD, or worse! I can't believe it. Yesterday a woman called our adoption hotline and left the following message...
"Hi, my 4 year old male iguana has something sticking out of it's butt... it's been hanging there for about 2 weeks... it's all dried up and black looking now... please give me a call if you can take him in, I just can't deal with this..." so I call her and tell her "TAKE HIM TO A VET FOR CHRISSAKE!!!" and she's all shocked like "Oh there's vets who see iguanas?" then calls me back to say "they think it's his dick or something... they want to cut it off... wouldn't that be cruel to the animal? Can you come pick him up? I don't want the vet cutting his dick off".
MAN, I LOST IT. I couldn't believe her stupidity. I tried not to shout. It wasn't a nice conversation. She decided to go through with the surgery.
Ugh. Sorry for all the animosity... I'm just upset over iguanas. The poor dears. HUMANS ME OFF!!
fr0glet
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So, I took over the Adoption Chair position for our herp society at the beginning of this year. HOLY CRAP there are a lot of unwanted iguanas!!

I'm just upset over iguanas. The
poor dears. HUMANS ME OFF!! fr0glet

Cruel?
To remove a prolapsed & necrotic hemipenis?
She wasn't worried about "cruel" while the poor Iggy was suffering the whole ordeal.
THAT is cruel!
Yeah, tell me about it. I have been involved with Iguana rescues for going on 13 years now, and I still get my blood-pressure sky-rocketing at the stupidity of some people...rather I should say the lack of care that so many have for animals.
I realize everyone has to start somewhere, but are people so lacking in common sense as to not even take a moment and go to a library or on-line to learn about these animals BEFORE they purchase them?

Apparently so.
~Wade
Ugh. Sorry for all the animosity... I'm just upset over iguanas. The poor dears. HUMANS ME OFF!! fr0glet

Situation is the same here in the UK.. and I noticed someone buying a monitor the other week (with a 24inch viv set up) for a 5 year old child... (1)
Please tell me im correct that a Nile monitor will grow to over 3' long (I think bigger still)...
im committed to my pets.. and id rather have them than holidays.. but ive met an iguana whose story is VERY sad...
bought for a 10 year old.. got too big for viv so they CUT his tail... (not off just down)
then he started climbing and damaging furniture.. so they pliered his claws out
they miss fed him so badly his legs were broken and all his bones are deformed..
he had serious burns on his back from a heat lamp...

had never seen any UV (apart from when cage was put in garden in summer (in the UK's climate??))
im amazed he is still alive... and he is a gorgeous character.. (and somewhat responsible for my renewed interest in Herp's)

my belief is if we bring an animal into our homes the least we can do is make it as comfortable as possible..
as my final comment, and following your "HUMANS ME OFF!!" I find my animals better company and more interesting than most humans (but not all)

Keep up the good work...
Mark
iguanas!! I was recently talking to the curator of reptiles at the Zoo in Seattle and she suggests I start ... a tactful way to go about suggesting that to people? She didn't mince words when she suggested it to me.

Maybe PETA can give you recommendations on how to tell people to euthanize their pets. Maybe you can ask PETA to pay for it...

Seriously, I would have lit into that woman like nobody's business. I commend your ability to bite your tongue (even a little).
-Z
Situation is the same here in the UK.. and I noticed someone buying a monitor the other week (with a ... (1) Please tell me im correct that a Nile monitor will grow to over 3' long (I think bigger still)...[/nq]Typically 4 to 6 feet as an adult, exceptional specimens have been known to reach 8 feet. Very powerful, very fast, very agile, very predatory, equipped with muscular talon tipped limbs and vice-like crushing jaws. Of all the monitors, Nile monitors are probably the least likely to ever become accustomed to humans, typically remaining reclusive, paranoid, and defensive all their lives, and willing to back up their fear of humans with violence when they feel threatened.

Their restless curiosity, agility, and brute strength makes them quite escape-prone, and an escaped monitor can cause extensive damage to a typical family house and its belongings (books and breakable objects will be knocked down from shelves and tables, houseplants dug up, toppleable things toppled, and I've even had one dig through drywall before, not to mention eating pets smaller than themselves). Once escaped, the reclusive nature of Nile monitors makes them more difficult to retrieve than many other monitor species, since the Nile will find the most inaccessible location to squeeze into you could imagine.

Their only good points are that they are very hardy in captivity and their bites typically do not cause as much damage as the more dagger-toothed monitor species (and, I must admit, they are very beautiful and impressive animals when you can observe them out in the open). They rank as the second least suitable monitor for people to keep as pets in my estimate (second only to Komodo monitors, because of the immense size and expensive dietary and housing requirements of the Komodos and their known ability to kill adult humans).
Unfortunately, Nile monitors are also very cheap to purchase as hatchlings, pretty little things that do not give much indication of the monster they will become. It is possible, with much effort and patience, for a small minority of Nile monitors to become used to people, it is just not common.
Luke

To email me, take out the trash.
So, I took over the Adoption Chair position for our herp society at the beginning of this year. HOLY CRAP ... surgery. Ugh. Sorry for all the animosity... I'm just upset over iguanas. The poor dears. HUMANS ME OFF!! fr0glet

Perfectly understandable. I was hoping that once most pet stores had quit selling iguanas, that the amount needing homes would drop off. Nope-stupid people breed over and over and over... and then they and their offspring all think iguanas are cool looking and then they want one, blah blah.

Its sad that so many might get euthanized, but its probably best for those with MBD, nasty attitudes, etc. Emotion: sad
-cat
They rank as the second least suitable monitor for people to keep as pets in my estimate

Really? Where do croc monitors fall on your list? I would think that their immense size and potential to do harm would put them up there pretty high.
-Z
They rank as the second least suitable monitor for people to keep as pets in my estimate

Really? Where do croc monitors fall on your list? I would think that their immense size and potential to do harm would put them up there pretty high.[/nq]Croc monitors have a bunch of bad hype, but from what I have heard they have a reasonably calm temperment (i.e., they are not spastic and can learn to trust people) and any of the large, knife-toothed monitors (salvators, lacies, bengals, arguses, mangroves, blue tails, perenties if you could ever find one) can cause crippling injuries. They also are about the same size as a really big argus or mangrove, and considerably smaller than an adult salvator.

I would rank them roughly equal with any of these large species listed above, possibly lower than the skittish mangroves and blue tails, probably above the arguses and bengals. They are a bit tough to place because I have never actually owned or cared for one. The basic considerations for all these lizards, though, is about the same - a really huge cage with an exotic climate, and consider the possibility of losing a finger or getting a crippled hand from your pet from a feeding accident or trying to handle it when it is cranky.

The cage will be about the same for all of them, except the salvators (which need a larger enclosure). The chance of getting badly bitten is harder to rank - captive arguses usually do not bite in self defense (I've had exceptions), but they are so food oriented that feeding accidents are more likely. Salvators will be more gentle and discriminating in taking pre-killed prey and are usually gentle tempered, but if they are cranky, they will bite hard.

From what I have heard, crocs are also relatively docile and discriminating about taking pre-killed food (although offering food by hand is still sheer folly) and may struggle a bit when picked up but will be unlikely to bite as long as they are not *** off or suddenly suprized. The big difference is that the teeth of crocs or salvators (and maybe perenties or lacies) are long enough to go through thick leather welding gloves, while the teeth of the other species will have their effect greatly reduced by the thickness of the leather, so if your mangrove suddenly goes wild, you can put on these heavy welding gloves and still manage to safely wrangle it back into its cage.

For the crocs or salvators, you'd need to attach articulated steel plates to the gloves for the same level of protection.
Keep in mind, too, that if you get the lizard as a juvenile, you get to learn its temperment and how to handle and interact with it while it is still small enough that its bites, while painful, will not do permanent harm. Once you know what you are doing, and once you can read your animal, the danger of getting bitten goes way down. It can still happen, though, as I know of one experienced lace monitor keeper who had his thumb half ripped off, and personally knew an experienced salvator keeper who startled his pet once and suffered nerve damage to his hand. Myself, I feed with 24 inch hemostats, seldom handle my arguses, and know when they are in a bad enough mood to warrent the gloves.
The safety issue, by the way, puts all the above monitors above the blackthroats and ornates on the unsuitability list, since with their peg-like teeth, these species of monitors are less likely to cause crippling wounds, although their jaws are powerful enough to break finger or hand bones as large adults. The caging issues for ornates and blackthroats are the same as for the other monitors, though. Blackthroats, with their hardy constitution, trusting and easygoing temperment, and general good nature I consider to be the best large monitor to keep as a pet (although I'd rank various mid-sized monitors as good or possibly better than blackthroats (notably flavies and dumerils and the whitethroat population of V.

albigularis). The dwarf monitors, especially ackies, are ideal for anyone thinking of getting a monitor but wanting to learn the ropes first. Stay away from Timors, though. They may be small and cheap, but they are skittish, reclusive, and will shred your skin with razor sharp claws giving cuts that feel like a multitude of paper cuts).
Okay, here's my tentative unsuitability list:
Komodos
Niles
Mangroves, blue tails, salvators \
Crocs, lacies, perenties > All nearly equivalent Argus, Bengals /
Ornates
Peachthroats
Timors, Kimberly rocks (delicate), tree monitors (delicate) Blackthroats
Flavies, Dumeril's, whitethroats
Tristis
Storr's
Ackies
All of these, except for Komodos, are below anything venomous. Savannas are difficult to classify, because of their health problems and short lifespan in captivity (probably due to uncertainty as to their dietary and climate needs) contrast with their medium size, peg teeth, and gentle disposition. I'll leave them up in the air, but suggest that inexperienced keepers find another species to start with.

Personal preference will greatly modify this list for individual keepers who know what they want - I'd take an argus over a peachthroat, dumeril, or blackthroat any day, simply because that's the kind of monitor I am most interested in (although someday I'd love to try out flavies and lacies, to give them a shot at being my favorite).

Luke

To email me, take out the trash.
Croc monitors have a bunch of bad hype, but from what I have heard they have a reasonably calm temperment ... a really big argus or mangrove, and considerably smaller than an adult salvator. I would rank them roughly equal with

Huh? Are we talking about the same animal? V. salvadorii? The longest lizard in the world? Now, I will definitely defer to you on this one, as my monitor experience is incredibly more limited than yours, but my experience and reading tells me to expect 80-100 cm SVL for Croc monitors and about 70 cm SVL for Salvators. Granted, Crocs are so long overall because of their ginormous tails, but body length appears to be longer to me too. Are the others that you mention bulkier?
As for temperament - I've known 3 Croc monitors that I worked pretty closely with and I wouldn't turn my back on any of them. Of course, that comes with the caveat that zoo critters (which these were) tend to be less tame since they don't get regular handling. However, I did have a friend who had to get several stitches after walking past one of our females and not paying attention to her.
IME you're right about the pre-killed food though. Our Bengal Monitors (V. bengalensis) were perfect
little demons when it came to feeding time, whereas the Crocs you almost had to hit on the head with the rats to get them to daintily take a bite.
Interesting thing about our Bengals - the one
WC male was always smaller than the CB males
and had a much different temperament. He
spent all his time chasing me around the
exhibit. I spent many an hour cleaning the
exhibit with him hanging by his teeth from
my pantleg. At the other extreme was our
chubby CB male who would try to crawl in my
lap and get a back scratch everytime I
kneeled down to change the water. The rest
of the 4 CB males were mostly just indifferent
unless I had food. The 2 CB females were the
same.
It was also pretty obvious that there was an
established pecking order for the males
in the group.
-Z
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