Territorial!

Many animals (and some plants) establish territories. They protect these areas for their places to live, eat and mate. When I think of a territory, I usually imagine a natural area, but that’s not true for all lizards. Some lizards establish their territories on patios!

Several male Desert Spiny lizards, Sceloporus magister, have divvied up my patio, spacing their areas three to four feet apart. They respect each others’ space.

Don’t worry, I put out treats in all of their territories to encourage harmony. I’m happy to cede my patio to such wonderful lizards.

I enjoy writing about the animals in my life and have created a good number of children’s science education books that are fun to read. They are written in rhyme or as animal adventure tales–I believe fun reading makes the science stick. Looking for some fun science for your children? Check out my books on my Books page.

colorful children's book cover with a curly-tail lizard riding on the back of a hutia
This is a special story for readers who like to solve problems. It takes Curtis Curly-tail on his second adventure, but is based on real ecological events taking place on Warderick Wells Cay in The Bahamas. The hutia are endangered rodents native to the islands. Some are transplanted to Curtis’s cay, and Curtis meets his new friend, Horace. When the scientists come back to check on the hutia, they find that the native shrubs are almost gone, due to the hungry hutia. But Curtis and Horace do not understand what is happening when the hutia are captured and put into cages. Curtis decides to do everything he can to help Horace and his family. It is you, the reader, however, who must decide how the story will end. How do you solve a problem when an endangered species threatens a protected environment? There are three endings to the book. Which one will you choose? Or, will you come up with another solution? Lesson plans for teachers are also available at iginspired@gmail.com.

Who Protects Your Home?

Many homeowners have security systems to protect the premises.  There are many choices: Ring, ADT, Vivint, etc., all of which involve people.

My security system involves reptiles. I have free roaming tortoises that are adept at tripping. They utilize the carpets that camouflage them well. Yes, even I have face-planted! I also have large roaming lizards with razor sharp teeth and an intense dislike of people they don’t know.

photo of tortoise nibbling on iguana's tail
Members of my Home Protection Team

Recently, I discovered that the household reptiles have recruited some of the locals to participate in guarding the house.

This Desert Spiny Lizard, Sceloporus magister, is doing surveillance from the front door. From her spot, she can watch the front of the house and the road. She seems to be doing a good job.

She does a good job from here.

I haven’t written any books including the Desert Spiny, but I do enjoy writing about lizards. Visit my books page here; and check out the workbooks and activity sheets at Lyric Power Publishing, which all make science education fun!

A collage of book covers indicating the categories of books at elaineapowers.com
My Books By Category
Collage of Science Education Workbooks
Click on Workbooks to see all 23 workbooks, making science education fun!

Why Flake When You Can Shed?

Reptile skin is really interesting.  Instead of flaking off like human skin does, reptiles shed their skin in strips. Snakes shed one complete body skin at a time. Lizards might shed their skin in sections of the body.

The scales that make up the skin are made by the epidermis of the protein keratin. The skin provides an external covering provides protection and helps retain moisture. 

The skin on the left is being shed, and the colorful new layer underneath is on the right.  You can surely see why they are called Red Tegus.

Rascal is getting ready to shed his old skin, so it appears white.

My friend Rascal, a Red Tegu, offered to help me show shedding lizard skin. He has thick beaded scales, that appear to be a lovely dark red.  However, when it’s time to get rid of his old epidermis, the skin looks white. That’s because the tegu’s color is not in the outer epidermal layer, but underneath.

By the way, keratin is what you humans use to make your skin, hair and nails with.  Don’t you wish you could shed your skin like us reptiles?


This is a piece of the shed skin.  Notice there is no color except for a little black or melanin pigment.

Graphic image book cover about iguanas
Thirty pages of Iguana information and fun activity sheets for grades 2-4. Includes coloring pages, fact sheets, T/F about reptiles, parts of an iguana coloring page, compare animal traits, name matching, count and classify, reptile spelling page, life cycle of the iguana cut-and-paste activity, ecology word problems, iguana word problems, creative writing prompt, opinion writing exercise, mean, mode, median, and range worksheets, counting iguanas, histogram worksheet, grams-to-pounds worksheet, trace the words and color, short i sound, create an iguana puzzle.

Lyric Power Publishing LLC offers fun and educational science workbooks and activity sheets. Looking to supplement science at home? Make it fun with economical and fun activity sheets!

One example is the workbook above. Learn all about iguanas in this 30-page workbook that is only $2.95. and you buy it once and print as many times as you’d like!

See What Happens!

Red-foot tortoises (Chelonoidis carbonarius), like Gladiola, are omnivores, which means they eat meat, as well as vegetables and fruits. Being tortoises, they don’t run down prey like a wolf after a deer. No, they look for slow moving animal tidbits or carrion.  Any opportunity for some protein should be explored, as shown by Gladiola here.

Rango Rhinocerous Iguana showed great tolerance of Gladiola’s nibbling. Fortunately, Gladiola didn’t take too big a bite. Merely moving the tail out of the way was sufficient.

However, Gladiola thought Rango’s tail was worth another taste a few minutes later.

Despite Rango asking Gladiola nicely to cease and desist, she didn’t. She pursued that tail and chomped down on it one too many times. With a flick of the tail, the errant tortoise was sent flying, ending up on her side. 

With a flip of a nibbled tail . . .

That’s what you get when you bite the wrong tail!

Interested in learning more about tortoises or turtles? Check out our books by clicking on the link.

green book cover with turtle illustration
Do you know the differences between the land-dwelling Hickatee and the ocean-dwelling Sea Turtle? Learn about them inside. Reading Level: Ages 6. Written in Rhyme. 45 Pages. Wonderful Illustrations of the Native Hickatee Turtle and Sea Turtles by Anderson Atlas. Learn all about the endemic Hickatee turtle who has so many troubles–well-meaning humans who throw them to their deaths into the ocean, cars that run over them, loss of land to lay their eggs, and cousins pushing them out. Shows physical traits and the differences between these land-dwelling turtles and the sea turtles that do reside in the ocean. Make friends with the Hickatee today!

Hey, Fans! Here’s My Next Video: All About Cantata Sulcata

Hi, everyone! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail Lizard and have I got a video for you!

I figured you fell asleep last night thinking about Sulcata tortoises and you wondered: Do they make good pets?

Click here on Curtis Curly-tail Introduces Cantata Sulcata to learn all about my friend, Cantata, and these special tortoises.

Thanks, and have a great day!

Watch Out for Those Dangerous Choices in Clothing Colors!

When you get dressed, do you consider your pets? Sure, I know those of you with fur babies might wonder which outfit would go best with your pet’s hair. However, if you live with iguanas, you must make your clothing choices carefully.

Iguanas have excellent color vision. Since they eat leaves and flowers, this makes sense. It also makes wearing certain colors dangerous. When hungry, iguanas can be enthusiastic eaters. When they see a large green leaf that happens to be a pant leg or a t-shirt, they often bite first and ask about edibility later. They know I provide first-rate leaves, so why would that shirt be any less tasty?

Usually after the first bite, they realize something is wrong and then taste the cloth, confirming it’s not what they had wanted. Of course, it takes many tongue flicks to come to that conclusion.  Unfortunately, one of my rhino iguanas prefers to eat first and worry about whether it is food later. It cost a lot of money to get that green dish cloth out of his stomach.

One of my newest family members, a large rhino iguana, loves grapes—I mean really loves grapes, purple grapes. My favorite pair of jeans happens to be purple, so she will chase me around the house, convinced I’m one very large grape. She’ll tongue-flick and tongue-flick, certain the pants will eventually turn into a grape. Every time I wear the jeans, I am followed by the rapidly clicking claws running after me.

As I write this, I am wearing an orange-colored t-shirt. Not a good choice around iguanas. Many delicious fruits and flowers are orange. So, I’ll conclude this post and go change my shirt. I’m feeling a dark color would probably be better . . .

Then I’ll settle in and get to work on one of my new book projects. In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out my fun science books. I’m a retired biologist and a musician, so those two parts of me combined into writing science books as adventure tales, or in rhymes. It’s a lot of fun for me and I hope my books inspire many young scientists.

A collage of book covers indicating the categories of books at elaineapowers.com
My Books By Category

What is that Tongue Doing?

I have lived with many iguanas over the years, but Stella, a green iguana, is the only one who constantly sticks her tongue out. I’m always afraid I’ll startle her and she’ll cut her tongue with her razor sharp teeth. Fortunately, that has never happened. Her tongue is intact. 

So, why is her tongue always sticking out? She’s tasting or “smelling” the world around her. Iguanas don’t smell with their noses like people do. They “taste” the world. Scent particles in the air are collected on the tongue, then brought into the mouth. The particles are analyzed by special sensory cells for identification. These cells make up the Jacobson’s or vomeronasal organ. If you watch an iguana walking, you’ll see her flicking her tongue out. If something is particularly interesting, say a tasty bit of food, the tongue flicks back and forth a lot.

Stella’s forked tongue, with which she “tastes” the world.

Another interesting thing about iguana tongues is that they are forked! Just like a snake’s tongue. You might also notice that the end of Stella’s tongue is darker. That’s because it is more enriched with blood. The better for tasting!

Iguanas are fascinating friends. To learn more about them, check out the Lyric Power Publishing workbook with activity sheets, called My Unit Study on Iguanas.

Graphic image book cover about iguanas
Thirty pages of Iguana information and fun activity sheets for grades 2-4. Includes coloring pages, fact sheets, T/F about reptiles, parts of an iguana coloring page, compare animal traits, name matching, count and classify, reptile spelling page, life cycle of the iguana cut-and-paste activity, ecology word problems, iguana word problems, creative writing prompt, opinion writing exercise, mean, mode, median, and range worksheets, counting iguanas, histogram worksheet, grams-to-pounds worksheet, trace the words and color, short i sound, create an iguana puzzle.

Pet Peeves

I love having animals in my life.  Over the years, they’ve mostly been reptiles and lately, if you’ve been following my story, there’s a horse tale in it. 

If we accept responsibility for an animal, we are responsible for its welfare, even if we have to sacrifice for it. This has come up in the care of my horse.  She developed chronic sinusitis as a result of an abscessed tooth. Every month, the equine dentist comes out to do the next step in her care.  Of course, this specialist’s care costs money. But I took responsibility for her life, so I owe Button the best care I can provide. Apparently, not all horse owners feel the same way, which is very sad to me. There are several famous quotes about judging a person by the way he cares for his fellow animals.

I owe her my best care.

The impetus for this post was a statement in a local neighborhood chat room.  The person posting had observed a bobcat enjoying its dinner.  A wonderful sight to see in the limited wilderness remaining in the Sonoran Desert. However, the poster concluded that the bobcat’s only purpose was as a threat to local dogs and cats. The bobcat was most likely eating a rabbit – it’s been a good year for rabbits. Of course, the danger from coyotes was included in the post.   

I disagree that local wildlife is the threat to domestic companion animals. The problem is people not taking proper care of their pets. When I let my reptiles out in the backyard, I stay with them. We have birds of prey in the area that could carry off an iguana. The bobcats could enjoy a nice turtle or tortoise meal—but it’s not on them. It’s my job as their human companion to ensure their safety in the environment I place them.

Along with watching out for our dogs and pets, I also feel it is our duty to ensure that our pets don’t harm the local wildlife. Billions of birds are killed each year by cats. Please keep your cats inside, where they are safe and healthy, or use a leash. Many people love to feed the birds in their yards but are unable to enjoy them due to a cat(s). I run into cat predation in my iguana conservation work. Too many are the years we don’t see any juvenile iguanas because they’ve all been killed by domestic pets that the iguanas didn’t recognize as predators. Dogs are equally dangerous when not properly supervised.

People, please protect and control your furry family members. We can all thrive together in this world.

Remember, if the local bobcat or coyote gets your family member, it is not the predator’s fault.  It’s yours.  Protect your pet!

Why Can’t She Use a Tortoise As A Pillow? by Yours Truly, Curtis Curly-tail

One day, my friend Rango, a Rhino Iguana, and I, a perfect curly-tail lizard, were discussing over Zoom our favorite basking spots. I prefer a nice piece of karst, myself. I like a spot where I can put my front feet up a bit, angle my back to the sun and soak in the rays.

photo of curly-tail lizard Curtis
Here I am on karst near my home!

But Rango the Dragon, as I call all iguanas—can you blame me?— lives in a house, not on an island like I do. Oh, she has a lovely place to bask under a suspended heat lamp or in a sunbeam through the window or door. She even has a servant who brings her meals while she basks. I guess there are advantages to living in a house. I have to find my own food and make sure I don’t become a snack for a seagull where I live!

I learned Rango likes to bask at an upward angle, too. Her substrate is flat tile, though, not bumpy karst.  So, what does she do? She finds something else to perch on–a comfortable height and something hard that can hold her weight.

The other family members include tortoises of various sizes. Rango has selected the smaller tortoises as her desired perches. I don’t know how the tortoises feel about being used for this purpose, but they don’t wander off.

I admire Rango for her creativity, but I do hope she thanks the tortoises, especially Myrtle, who is a very famous tortoise. She has her own book, for Pete’s sake! That’s it below, a rhyming book favorite of the wee ones! (Human wee ones, that is.)

Thanks for stopping by at Elaine’s author website. Hope you’ll look around. See ya next time!

a green book cover with an illustration of a tortoise standing on hind legs
Don’t call me Myrtle the Turtle! I’m a tortoise! Learn the differences in fun rhymes inside!

He’s NOT a Tortoise! by Curtis Curly-tail

Hello, everyone! It’s me, Curtis Curly-tail, at your service! Well, actually, I’m here today for my friend, Trevor. He asked me to share his rant with you. 

Trevor is a Box Turtle. He recently posted a selfie at the beginning of a literacy school event on social media. Numerous comments were added about what an attractive tortoise he was.  Tortoise! 

Trevor isn’t a tortoise–he’s a turtle!  He was incensed, upset, incredulous, even! He obviously has red eyes. Don’t people know that all tortoises have black eyes?

And, Trevor says, he’d sure like to see ANY tortoise try his trick below! Only turtles with lightweight shells and webbed feet can climb screen doors!

Trevor has stomped his little feet (with turtle-webbing between his toes) and insisted that Elaine Powers, his caretaker and author of fun science books, write a book entitled Don’t Call Me Tortoise! Elaine wrote Don’t Call Me Turtle! for Trevor’s roommate, Myrtle the Red-foot tortoise, because everyone kept calling her Myrtle the Turtle, driving her nuts!

I have to back Trevor on this one. Personally, I think Elaine should’ve written Trevor’s book long ago. Am I going to have to push Trevor onto her foot, so he can transmit the turtle-poem to her, like I transmitted my story?

Nah! She’s got this! Right, Elaine? Right?

Below is the fun, rhyming book, Don’t Call Me Turtle!, that tells about the many differences between turtles and tortoises. Geez, the little ones love that book! (Learning with fun rhymes helps with keeping busy.)

P.S. — It’s only right for all the Trevor’s in the world that Don’t Call Me Tortoise! is on its way, too.

a green book cover with an illustration of a tortoise standing on hind legs, pointing at the viewer
Learn the differences between tortoises and turtles today!

And, because a lot of kids are unexpectedly home from school, check out the fun turtle and tortoise activity sheets and workbooks at Lyric Power Publishing!

The Story of a Green Iguana Named Stella

I am an author of both children’s and adult science books, inspired to write about the world of reptiles. I am as ‘at-home’ with reptiles as I am with mammals–perhaps even more so. And I tend to look after the underdogs.

So, when Stella, a green iguana, was found on a street in Bethlehem, PA, with her tail badly chewed, I took an interest in her. The veterinarian thought it was done by dogs, possibly pit bulls owned by drug dealers. Her rescuers had to amputate most of her gorgeous four-foot tail.

The amputated tail of a green iguana
Stella’s tail was chewed up and had to be amputated.

Stella was full-sized, uncommon for captive green iguanas. Apparently, she had been cared for up until she was separated from her family. Once she had sufficiently healed from her surgery, they sent her to my rescue center in Highbridge, New Jersey. Her health returned, and she soon moved to her forever home with me.

Despite her injuries, she produced eggs after her arrival. She also tried to regenerate her tail, but the stump had been sewn shut.

She likes to hang out with her buddy, Ezra, another green iguana who lives in a nearby separate enclosure. Ezra likes to stand on his rear legs and show off for Stella every now and then. They’re very attentive to each other.

Stella has developed high blood pressure, as evidenced by a swollen nictitating membrane. It is kept under control with medication.

She is a sweet-natured iguana, and it is my pleasure to have her as a pet in my home.

60 Tried and True Iguana Foods

Ever since I operated a reptile rescue center, I’ve had a good number of iguanas. Over ninety percent of newly purchased iguanas die within the first year, so their good health is very important to me. Fresh vegetables and fruits are important to their survival.

I use a potato peeler to make long slices of zucchini and carrots and chop the other veggies into small pieces.

Here is a list of basic vegetable and fruits and the special treats that can be given on an occasional basis.

Their basic salad in the morning includes Collard Greens, Red Bell Peppers, Zucchini, Carrots, and Bananas or Grapes.

To learn more about these fascinating big lizards, see the 30-page downloadable Supplemental Workbook, My Unit Study on Iguanas
at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC.