Friday, March 22, 2013

No Longer the Lizard Lady

For the first time in twenty-three years, I am without a lizard.

For the first time in twenty-three years, no glinting eye assessing me, no dorsal-ridged tail disappearing around the corner, no head bobs, no shed to pick, no seminal plugs to extricate, no scratches from well-trimmed claws, no abraded skin from brushing up against a keeled patch of leg scales or a long spiked tail.

There comes a point in all of our lives when our bodies and minds are no longer able to take physical care of our pets. There has been far too many times in the past decade when people are no longer financially able to care for their pets.

I always knew I would enter into the former category sooner rather than later, as being persistently sick and stressed shortens lives that would otherwise be long-lived based on the gene pool from which one descends. I have stepped as lightly as I could on the edge of the precipice of the physical, mental and financial cliff for over a decade, the cliff face crumbling away beneath my feet, leaving me momentarily suspended in mid-air, flailing madly for something solid to grab on to.

The load grew too heavy by the weight and will of a lizard whose needs, in the end, was more than my dwindling capacity was able to meet.

Yes.  Mike.

While my health might once again improve, there is no predicting when it (or if) it will happen, or how much improvement there will be, nor whether it will be enough.  That is too uncertain a future to try a fostering arrangement, and not healthy for either of us if I hunker down and make us both just try to wait it out.  We have been waiting it out. That only made it worse, especially for Mike.

Mike left almost three weeks ago to go live in the Sacramento area.  He will be living another week or so with my good friend Sue, who introduced us to Steve.  Once Steve finishes the work on Mike's new room, Mike will move into his new home with Steve.

 Mike exploring his temporary digs at Sue's.  This is his first time
being with cats instead of just seeing them outside through his
window.  He is doing well with them, which is good, because
Steve also has a cat.

Mike and Steve.


 Mike shortly after he came to me in 1999

Mike in 2013

The end of an era
March 3, 2013


Blogger Unknown said...

Dearest Melissa,
Im so sorry to hear of the challenges you are facing. Im sure this loss is big for you, and I send my empathies and hopes that you may be comforted in knowing Mike and Steve will have a good time together, as shown in the picture. I trust that this will allow you to focus on what you need to do to take care of you. Hugs, and healing energy your way. Call anytime.

8:27 PM  
Blogger igtoastchronicles said...

I know I am not the only one who considers you her first teacher about repties, especially iguanas, including promoting the welfare of reptiles.

I am sad for you -- because I cannot yet imagine life without a big lizard in the house.

However, once again you are teaching all that tough decisions face us all and we need to consider the welfare of our pets.

Presently I'm in Costa Rica starting my behavior project on Spiny-tailed iguanas. I do believe one iguana needs 'Kaplan' as his house name.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I consider you the greatest iguana keeper. I am so sorry to hear you can no longer keep Mike. I wished you all the best.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


I found your writings tonight while trying to take a crash course in the care of sulcata tortoise....

Great data!

Today my grandchildren and I were hiking (North Central Tx), and a sulcata came marching down the path toward us.... I recognized it immediately - and knew it shouldn't be where it was - so we scooped it up. Its about 8" across the length of its carapas.

I am a wildlife rehabber so I am well versed in captive care of oddities... so I have been researching housing, care, long term plans for this tortoise all evening. The info you provided was fabulous.

If you have any energy to chat with a newbie, I would really appreciate an email... I feel confident that I am equipped to care for this foundling and (altho I was not in the market for a tortoise) always had a secret desire to raise one of the big ones...

It is mobile, inquisitive and seems healthy. I think it has a bit more pyramiding than it should have. Its tucked in to a nice topsoil and hay lined big plastic tub for the evening, having had a soak in a pan of water (I use disposable paint roller trays) and a good dinner of dandelions fresh picked by the grandkids, grass and cactus pad.

thanks again for your writings....


7:38 PM  
Blogger igtoastchronicles said...

Here is an album
featuring Kaplan (aka Blue-Yellow-Brown for his beads). Sometimes referred to as Senor Kaplan as he is the largest (8 pounds) male I caught during my recent trip to Palo Verde National Park in Costa Rica.

Kaplan is everything an iguana should be -- stately, handsome, and wild. I am glad he can have such an esteemed iguana house name!

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't find your email anywhere so I hope you get this. Dr Aanne Steinemann was a professor of environmental engineering and is speaking out about the problem with all of these fragrances.
Also Betty Bridges, a nurse in England has websites. I am too tired to look it up, I stayed up too late reading about the eggs in hats. You are wonderfully creative.
Karen, CA girl misplaced.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgot this:

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...


I discovered your main website today and saw the link to this blog. I then read this post and was moved by your words.

I do not "know your story", per se. I just briefly went back and read your main site and see that you have been dealing with terrible health issues for quite some time.

I cannot imagine how difficult it is to "lose" a piece of your identity so to speak. Good luck with everything.


5:18 PM  
Blogger ~Robin~ said...

Melissa, I've been so busy with life that I haven't kept up with the many blogs I followed...or at least used to follow regularly. I hope you and Mike are both doing well with the separation. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for you both. My oldest iguana has been with me since 1994 - she was just a few months old when her original owner gave her up. I don't have children, but this 5lb reptile has been with me long enough to be an adult. I dread the day that her time with me is up. Sadly i'm afraid that when that heartbreak comes, it will be back to back with my 2nd oldest...who is only a year behind her in age. I wish you the best and hope that you get regular photos and updates from Mike & Steve. God bless...

7:03 PM  

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