Reptiles - Help Protect The Species: Buy Farm-Raised Iguanas
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, there were over 3 million iguanas that were imported in the U.S. from 1988 until 1995.
Until recently, most of these animals were wild-caught, meaning that a group of locals (mostly children) went to the jungle and picked up as many hatchling iguanas as they could find. They would then get paid for each hatchling that they've captured.
About 30% to 50% of these hatchlings died from the time they were captured to the time they get to the pet store in Europe and the United States. While some of these iguanas are lucky enough to get to the pet store alive, they are usually sick, stressed, with skin and bones damaged from improper caring.
The removal of iguanas from the wild is one of the major causes of the animals' decrease in population. This, however, can be stopped by buying only farm-raised iguanas.
Nowadays, most of the iguanas that come here from South and Central America are farm-raised. Because they are raised on farms, these lizards arrive at the pet store healthy, plump, and not stressed.
Although not all iguanas that are shipped here are farm-raised, if you see a thick, healthy young hatching, it is most likely farm-raised.
What exactly is a farm-raised iguana? As the name implies, these are iguanas that are raised in an environment (a farm) where there is a specific breeding area for the baby iguanas. There are two ways to farm iguanas.
The first way is by catching gravid (pregnant) female iguanas in the wild and placing them in free-range pens. They are kept there until they lay their eggs.
The eggs are collected and placed in incubators. When the eggs hatch, the hatchlings are properly cared for until they are ready to be sold. The farmers then release the adult female iguanas back into the jungle. The following year, farmers look for a new group of gravid female iguanas and begin the cycle again.
The second way of farming iguanas is when farmers raise their own stock to breed in captivity, as opposed to capturing gravid females from the jungle each year. This process creates a more positive approach to preserving the population of the species.
This is because no gravid female iguanas are taken out of their natural habitat, therefore allowing their numbers to increase.
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