Recently, I posted on my social media about a citizen-scientist opportunity that you could do from the comfort of your home. This project was through Zooniverse.
For aniguana study, people were needed to look at photos and count the iguanas they could see. The scientists took the photos and cut them into little pieces. The resulting 25,000 images were shown 20 times. Four thousand volunteers participated. Two thousand to 10,000 images were classified each day.
In some images, the iguanas were challenging to find, while in others they were more obvious.
If you’d like to participate in scientific work, Zooniverse needs help with other projects. This work can be safely done from home, no traveling required, and you can contribute to important conservation efforts.
At a recent conservation meeting in the Caribbean regarding iguanas, there was discussion about establishing additional colonies on islands, so that the lizards would be protected from human-caused threats. The selected islands included their historical homes and new, safe places. Of course, moving animals is nothing new. Mankind has been moving and introducing animals to new locations throughout history–but rarely has this been beneficial to the native species. Pigs and goats, released to be eventual food sources, have been introduced to islands as natural “livestock pens.” Sadly, livestock often destroy the islands’ ecosystems. In recent times, iguanas have been moved by people from one island to another, seemingly just because they can. Maybe it happens because the lizards are so attractive and people want some in their previously iguana-free zone, but they are also taken as a food source. Iguanas have been eaten for centuries, although they are now protected from hunting and consumption. Others may think they are helping the iguanas achieve more genetic mixing by adding individuals from one isolated populations to another. Consequently, scientists prefer to ensure the safety of the iguanas and the island’s environment when translocating them. Setting up a new community of iguanas is more than just grabbing a few of them and dumping them on their new home. Iguanas are selected by sex, age, reproductive fitness and health status. Of course, the islands are carefully pre-screened before the iguanas are collected. There must be proper food, no invasive animal species, like mice and rats, den sites and perhaps most importantly, nesting sites. Once the appropriate candidate iguanas have been selected, captured, and examined, they aren’t just plopped onto the island. No, they must wait until the food they ate on their home island has cleared their guts. Iguanas are important seed disperses, but bringing foreign plants onto the receiving island must be prevented. Islands need to be protected from invasive plant species as well. The possibility of increasing the ranges of critically endangered iguanas is exciting. It’s worth the years of planning that goes into making these projects realities! If you’d like to participate in these efforts, please donate to your favorite conservation organization, or volunteer as a citizen scientist. But don’t pick up an iguana and toss it onto another island! Some organizations involved in iguana conservation are the International Iguana Foundation, IUCN Iguana Specialist Group, International Reptile Conservation Foundation, The Shedd Aquarium, The Trust of The Bahamas, and The Trust of the Cayman Islands, to name a few.
Book Note: Want to learn more about these wonderful creatures? Go to My Unit Study on Iguanas at Lyric Power Publishing–it’s 30 pages of fun activities and coloring pages for $1.47 until December 31, 2020.
When I saw that November 19 was National Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day, I immediately thought of my favorite soda, Mountain Dew. I prefer the light citric crispness of Diet Mountain Dew. I was attracted to the name, slang for moonshine, and its bright green color, of course. The color reminds me of green iguanas.
Mountain Dew was created in the 1940s by Tennessee brothers Barney and Ally Hartman as a mixer for liquor. I’m not surprised since I like to mix Diet Mountain Dew with flavored vodka or rum. The current version of Mountain Dew was released in 1961. My favorite form, diet, didn’t come along until 1988.
Over the years, there have been many debates between lovers of Coca-Cola and fans of Pepsi Cola, but I will always Do the Dew!
Book Note: To have fun learning all about the big lizards, Iguanas, and other reptiles, check out Lyric Power Publishing LLC’s workbooks and activity sheets. Click on My Unit Study on Iguanas to go directly to the download page. Economical, fun and comprehensive, the workbook can be printed as many times as you need!
Every night I say “Sweet Iguana Dreams” to my iguana family members. Some people would think that is a silly thing to say, since iguanas are said not to dream. But I think they do. Iguanas are diurnal, active during the day and they sleep at night. In fact, they can sleep very soundly. I’ve been known to use this deep slumber to move aggressive iguanas or to clip the long toenails of recalcitrant family members.
Usually, the sleeping iguanas stretch out, with their arms relaxed alongside the torso.
I’ve had a few hundred iguanas reside in my rescue over several years. Generally, they sleep quietly through the night. Every now and then, I would hear thrashing in the night and find an iguana asleep, rolling, snapping his or her tail, legs running in place. I believe these iguanas were having bad dreams, perhaps trying to escape a predator. Since they had been rescued, I hoped they weren’t dreaming about fleeing an abusive human.
I gently stroked the disturbed lizard’s back until they woke up, eyes wide open, looking around in panic. For some iguanas, this was enough and they would relax and go back to sleep. Others wanted to be held and comforted, which I was always happy to do.
This article in Scientific American gives a good summary about reptiles and REM sleep. See? They do have the potential to dream as you and I do.
May all your dreams be “sweet iguana dreams,” too.
Among the many reptiles I share my home with is a rhinoceros rock iguanawho usually free roams my house. She basks under the heat lamps with the tortoises, shares the plates of veggies and finds sunbeams to relax in. Mid-afternoon, it’s time to head under some rocks for a nap.
No, I don’t have rocks in my house, but I do have pillows on the sofa, which is her designated sleeping place. Recently, however, she has discovered my bed. It, too, has pillows. And it has a blanket where she can stretch out her entire body. She’s over four feet long.
I head to bed late in the evening, looking forward to laying my head on my pillows, all four of them, only to discover my bed is already occupied.
“Hey, Rango, that’s my bed!” So, I picked up the sleeping lizard and carried her to the sofa.
Then, things came to an interesting point. I needed a nap this afternoon, so I got into bed. I hear the tick-tick-tick of approaching iguana feet – they have nails on the ends on their toes which click on the tile floor.
“Uh, oh, will someone be joining me in bed?”
I feel a body knock against the frame. A body impact with the mattress. But no one comes up—I think. Later I turn over to see me being watched by a very confused iguana.
What in the world was I doing in her bed!
Note: You might be able to tell how much I enjoy sharing my home with iguanas. To learn more about these intelligent and interesting reptiles, see My Unit Study on Iguanas at Lyric Power Publishing’sWorkbook page.
And one of my fun children’s science books (written in the form of an adventure tale) features The Dragon of Nani Cave which, when you’re a small curly-tail lizard, is an iguana!
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.
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?
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.
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!
Today, I wanted to ask you if you knew that Green Iguanas, Iguana iguana, come in different colors? And, if they come in different colors, how do you tell if a lizard is a green iguana?
You look for the subtympanic scale. “What is that?” you ask. Well, I don’t have one, so I had to look it up myself. The subtympanic scale is that large scale on the side of the green iguana’s head. Sub means below and tympanic means ear. So, it’s the big scale below the ear. I have a friend who calls that scale the “jewel.” She always admires the beautiful coloring in the iguana jewels.
Here are some of my green iguana friends, in very different colors. As you can see, they are not just green–but they are all still called “green.” Even the green green iguanas come in different shades of green. It can be confusing, if you ask me.
The native range of the green iguana is southern Mexico to central Brazil and several Caribbean islands. If you don’t live in those areas, why should you know how to identify a green iguana? Because they’re very popular as pets in people’s homes and they have been introduced to many other places in the world, where they don’t belong and can be causing harm. That means they’re “invasive.”
If you enjoy learning while coloring and doing activities, I encourage you to be creative. To learn more in fun ways about iguanas, please see our 30-page workbook full of activity sheets about iguanas, My Unit Study on Iguanas. Remember that the green iguanas you color, don’t have to be green!
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.
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