My sweet female Iggy has gone psycho

Discussion in 'Iguanas' started by DancingRT, May 9, 2012.

  1. DancingRT

    DancingRT New Member

    My green iguana, Iggy just turned 4 years old this past April (2012). I originally got her when she was a baby with the ex, and a few years ago she became mine when the ex didn't want her anymore. She was very sweet, and would even fall asleep on my shoulders, etc. Very mild mannered. Once in a while she would get moody...pretty much just puffing her cheeks out and putting her dewlap out, to bobbing her head at worst.
    In Jan/Feb (2012) I noticed signs of her becoming gravid, and an x-ray at the vet confirmed that she was. This was her first time. To make a long story short...after calcium and syringe feeding and doing everything properly, she was egg binding, and the vet removed 40+ eggs and her ovaries (end of Feb/beginning of March 2012). She recovered well from the surgery and put most of her weight back on. This week she shed her skin for the first time.
    The past few weeks however, she has become horribly aggressive. All I do is walk in the room and she will bob her head, even trying to snap/bite me through the glass of her cage...something she has NEVER tried to do before. She even charges at me and throws herself at the glass trying to bite me. I am able to put food in her cage and clean it out. She is still nice to my kitty when the kitty jumps into the cage. Nothing has changed in the room she is in or in her cage. What would cause her to act this way?
     
  2. Cammy

    Cammy Administrator Staff Member

    It sounds like she may be going into another egg cycle...under normal conditions they don't usually do this, but it can happen in unusual circumstances. Here's an excerpt from Melissa Kaplan's article on iguana breeding:

    Melissa Kaplan has some great articles on breeding iguanas that I'd highly recommend going over. There's a list of all the basic sections at the bottom of this page. (I know you aren't actually breeding your female, but the information is still relevent. Articles of interest are any of the pages on breeding season aggression, dystocia, egg laying and incubation, etc.)

    Anyways, sounds like it's time for another checkup at the vet. Gravidity with female iguanas can be a demanding time period, so you'll want to be ahead of the game. Judging from your response to her first episode it sounds like I'm preaching to the choir though. Thumbs up to you for knowing what you're doing here. =)
     
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  3. DancingRT

    DancingRT New Member

    I doubt she is becoming gravid again, since she had her ovaries removed (AKA spaying her). Even when she was gravid...she was not this nasty.
     
  4. Cammy

    Cammy Administrator Staff Member

    Oh wow...I read the part about the eggs being removed and completely skipped over the ovaries bit. I am not a clever person. BUT, unfortunately, she is still probably exhibiting this aggression because of the hormones in production due to breeding season. (Ovaries, while a main producer of sex hormones, are not the only part of the hormonal production going on during breeding season.) I know you said she wasn't this aggressive during her first gravid period, but she is still getting into the swing of things. Her behavior may vary over the next couple years as she adjusts to sexual maturity.

    The important thing is that you don't let her aggressiveness change your behavior. Continue to feed and interact with her just as you did before. Most importantly, do not stop handling her. A lot of people think the aggression will die down as breeding season comes to an end--and sometimes it does--but often the aggression will continue if a habit is allowed to develop. The sooner you can nip this in the bud, the better. I know facing a nasty, full grown ig is no small feat. I'd suit up with some long sleeves and thick gloves, and prepare for some bites and tail whips. But be diligent. Try to have her out with you for at least 20-30 minutes a day. Usually they will calm down substantially once you get them out of the cage. Hopefully with some dedication she will be back to her normal self soon. Luckily females are usually not quite as territorial as males, so hopefully once she realizes you are not a threat to her domain, she will calm down. It could take some time though. Just be patient and keep trying.

    Aside from regular handling, which is really the main thing. You can try a couple other tricks to get her to calm down. First, try hand feeding her her meals. I know you won't always have time for this every day, but at least try to get her to take a few of her favorite treats from you if you can. Also, try misting her with a warm spray bottle. Sometimes a gentle misting really seems to calm them down. Finally, and this one sounds stupid, but I'm not making this up: Try using a stuffed animal or even a pillow to redirect her aggression. A lizard-like toy would be best, but I've read of people using just a small pillow like I said. Whenever she starts to charge, bite, or whip, make that toy the target of her aggression. This can sometimes help moody igs work off some steam while saving you from a nasty bite or whip wound.

    Again, try, try, and try again. And then try some more. With a patient and caring owner, an aggressive iggy can be worked with. You just have to find a method that works for you both. Keep us updated on how she's doing, too. =)
     
  5. DancingRT

    DancingRT New Member

    I am hoping it is a hormonal thing and nothing else is wrong. I do hold her plate for her after a make her her salad for dinner. I only hand feed her when she isn't in a biting mood. I mist her a few times a day, esp lately since she has been shedding. And she does have a beenie baby iguana....she tried to rip its head off the other night...maybe because i had it bob its head back at her. I do still handle her as usual. I let her out of the cage to get some free time/exercise. I only let her out to roam when I can watch her...and hide the cat food from her. When she is out of the cage I was able to hold her without gloves, pet her, etc. Even when she is throwing herself at me in the cage, I NEVER back down. Even the one time she bit my finger, I stayed there to show her it would not scare me away...as I bled all over. I personally think part of the problem is she wants to go on top of her cage...which is where she tries to go to...and the reason I lock her out of her cage when she is roaming. She LOVES to lay ontop of her lights...and I don't want her burning herself. She bobs her head a lot at my parents as well, but is a lot more aggressive with me...but I am the one that cleans her cage, feeds her, etc...I might call the vet to see if she has any insight on why she seems so angry
     
  6. Cammy

    Cammy Administrator Staff Member

    It definitely sounds like you are doing everything right. The key is exactly what you are already doing--not backing down. I'd say calling the vet is never a bad idea if you're unsure about a situation or just want some professional input. And maybe she will have some more tips on getting her to calm down. Let us know how it all works out! =)
     
  7. StikyPaws312

    StikyPaws312 Moderator Staff Member

    You also might have luck calling any of the iggy rescues around the US. Not to give her away or anything but just to ask advice because they deal with angry iggies all the time....
     
  8. Just a couple of tips that have worked with my toughest (rescue) males:

    If you have her out and handling her then try covering both her eyes with your hand or if you are trying to sit with her, cover her with a blanket to calm her.

    If you're just trying to work in the enclosure/moving her try turning all of the lights on both in the room & wherever she's bing moved. Dimmer lighting can definitely freak them out.

    Trust building exercises might be in order due to the major surgery she just had. I prefer using these over a dominating approach (which doesn't work with my males). But that's not to suggest backing down if bitten or whipped. I can give you some ideas to try if you're interested.

    Our iggs also loved to get on top of the cage which is a no-no (due to the possibility of burns), but they managed once or twice. The attitude difference is insane! They become unusually aggressive and nervous after getting up there. If it's a constant battle to keep her off the top, it might make sense to just build a hood over that area. Also, if she is housed with others, it might be a good idea to segregate her for a while. Again this is a tip based on my male experiences but it might help...
     

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