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In recent years, as reptiles have become an ever-increasing part of the pet industry, the number of captive green iguanas in American households has grown astronomically. These animals can be found in virtually every pet store across the country. More often than not, these lizards, deceptively small as juveniles, are sold to their naive, yet well-meaning new caretakers with little more than a thank-you and a few helpful hints such as "feed it lettuce and don't forget your hot-rock." For most of these creatures the outlook is quite grim.
In the past, the information provided by books on iguana care often has been misleading and contradictory. Some basic advice on iguana nutrition, for example, that seemed sound as recently as five years ago would be regarded as detrimental today. One key in learning to care successfully for any reptile or amphibian in captivity is to communicate with knowledgeable people who share an interest in that animal. James Hatfield has done precisely this in compiling Green Iguana: The Ultimate Owner's Manual..
A few years ago, I received a detailed questionnaire requesting information on how I cared for my iguanas. The returned comments were to be used in a book being planned by Hatfield. Being a procrastinator, I set it on my desk with every intention of completing it and sending it back. But this never happened. Fortunately for present and future iguana owners, over 800 people did complete the task, resulting in the most thorough book on green iguana care that I have ever read.
The nine chapters in this book are: "Iguana: The Species," describing the biology and natural history of green iguanas; "Iguanas as Pets," which will help readers decide if an iguana is the right pet for them; "Choosing Your Pet"; "Housing," which includes information on lighting, heating and habitat requirements; "Feeding," which not only describes what to feed but also deals with vitamin supplementation etc.; "Special Care," with tips on such things as claw trimming; "Medical Troubleshooting"; "Domestication"; and "Breeding."
Following the main body of the book are ten appendices, one of which suggests additional sources of information, such as herpetological societies ... and books, and lists various iguana-related products and services. Appendices D-I contain useful facts on habitat-, incubator-, and nest box construction. The latter is very important considering that most iguana owners have no idea that a nesting box may be needed at some point, must less how to build one. Finally, there is a thorough index followed by 16 pages of color photographs.
The meat of the book is derived from Hatfield's experiences raising his own iguana, named Za, and, as I mentioned earlier, from personal accounts sent in by over 800 iguana owners, academics studying iguanas, and veterinarians. Because much of what there is to know about successfully caring for iguanas has come through trial and error over long periods of time, these anecdotal accounts can definitely help inexperienced iguana keepers avoid many of the pitfalls.
Over the years I have talked with hundreds of fellow iguana enthusiasts about every possible aspect of iguana care and have found their stories and experiences to be not only useful but very entertaining. I feel the same about the anecdotes that fill this book. Some of them seem like carbon copies of episodes I've had with my own iguanas over the years. In my opinion, these little stories hold truly valuable lessons for those who are willing and able to learn from them.
The title of this book is no exaggeration. Never before have I seen such a thorough book on the care and maintenance of green iguanas. This book answers almost every imaginable question, from calcium-to-phosphorous ratios to how large to chop the food; from how to choose a substrate to how to spot illnesses. In the words of an old TV commercial: "It's in there.
James Hatfield III has succeeded in compiling the most definitive information to date on the captive husbandry of the green iguana. Many, if not all, of the common mistakes made by novice iguana keepers can surely be avoided just by reading this book. With its useful, factual information and its amusing anecdotes, this book is a must for anyone who presently has or contemplates getting a green iguana as a pet.
I have long been frustrated with the information available in the pet trade on the Green Iguana. Books and care sheets range from the grossly outdated and highly inaccurate, to more recent material that is somewhat, but not very much, better.
Several years ago, small advertisements for an iguana survey were tucked away in several reptile magazines. More than 800 iguana owners from North American and elsewhere responded to Jim Hatfield's 50-question survey; a 30-question survey was sent to reptile veterinarians. Hatfield's research also included works in the veterinary, biological, and behavioral literature on Iguana iguana, trips to Central America and around the United States visiting breeding farms and research facilities, and interviews with researchers, owners, and breeders. Hatfield himself joined an iguana research team when he was invited to participate in a project in Mexico. The result of all of these years of research is an in-depth book on the complexities, rigors, and joys of keeping-and being kept by-Green Iguanas.
Readers start with a comprehensive table of contents that outlines the nine chapters, 10 appendixes, and 46 tables, illustrations, and photographs distributed throughout the text. Sidebars and delineated sections are used to summarize key points or to highlight information.
Chapters 1-3 discuss Green Iguanas in general, aspects of keeping them as pets, and how to select an individual. Chapters 4-6 and 8 discuss housing, feeding, basic maintenance, taming, and socializing iguanas. Chapter 7 addresses health problems. Chapter 9 discusses breeding behavior and reproduction. The appendices include detailed instructions for building an iguana habitat, self-regulating heating device, egg-laying chamber and incubator, selected readings and references, and more.
For iguana owners uncertain how iguanas are put together, there are first-time ever photographs of a complete iguana skeleton as well as anatomical drawings.... Extensive information and descriptions of iguanas in the wild help to illustrate the necessity of providing a larger-than-expected environment in captivity. Iguana behavior is also discussed at length, with the well-stated conclusion that, for the majority of iguana owners, one is enough.
"...There is very little missing from this book. Hatfield blends together personal experience and information from his research with quotes from survey respondents, creating a work of many voices with one unifying theme: proper care of the Green Iguana is not a simple undertaking but, when done conscientiously, is one with many rewards.... The book is cross-referenced, leading readers to pertinent sections elsewhere. Those looking for something in particular will find the extensive index and table of contents useful..."