Bonnie Scott Edwards has “iguana-proofed” her Cayman Brac home while a large injured rock iguana recovers in her living room and porch.
The iguana, nicknamed “Big Guy”, was found on the side of a road in Cayman Brac on Saturday, 6 April. Rock iguanas are considered a critically-endangered species.
“He’s living in my house now, and hopefully, not for long,” Ms Scott Taylor said Friday, the day after Big Guy was flown back to Cayman Brac on Cayman Airways after undergoing veterinary treatment in Grand Cayman. “He’s a very big iguana. It’s a bit of a challenge to have him in my home,” she added.
She’s not sure how his injuries occurred. He was found bleeding by the side of the road.
“He might have been in a fight with another iguana,” she said. “At first we thought he’d been hit by a car because he was by the side of the road bleeding, but we haven’t been able to find an impact spot on the road, or that he may have been hit with a machete as I know some people don’t like them around their vegetable gardens.
“But then, looking at the wound, I hypothesise maybe it came from a fight with an iguana. He’s got a gash in his side, he’s missing a toe and his foot is mashed up.”
She hopes he will recover fast enough to be released back into the wild shortly.
While his injuries are not particularly serious, Ms Scott Edwards said there are concerns that his healing wounds may become infected, so she is keeping him indoors and sometimes out on her enclosed porch where she can keep an eye on the injuries for any sign of infection.
“I’m going to keep him here until he’s sufficiently healed and then he can go back to living outdoors,” she said.
Big Guy is eating a diet of bananas, grapes and yellow flowers and basking in sunlight coming through the windows.
“He’s not real happy. He would like to be outside. I’m sure he’s not feeling very well and his foot must be bothering him,” Ms Scott Edwards said.
She has had to move her furniture away from the windows of the house as Big Guy tends to make a run for it when he sees sunlight through the windows. “I had a table of pot plants that he climbed on and he tried to go out the window. That resulted in a lot of dirt on the floor and I had to re-pot the plants. I’ve moved everything he can climb up on away from the windows,” she said.
On the Cayman Brac Cycluras Facebook page (rock iguanas are also known as Cyclura Iguanas), Ms Scott Edwards put out an SOS for help in taking care of Big Guy and has had plenty of responses, including from one volunteer who is donating a basking light system to keep injured iguanas warm without them having to be outdoors in the daylight.
People also showed up at her home to help build a plywood barrier around her screened-in porch. “Big Guy would have just torn through the screen otherwise,” she said.
Big Guy is the second Rock Iguana to be found injured on a road in the Brac in recent weeks. Another iguana, which does appear to have been hit by a car, was found motionless and bleeding in the middle of a road in late March. Ms Scott Edwards, who has been a strong advocate for iguanas and turtles on Cayman Brac and is a volunteer member of the Species Management Team, held the iguana for observation. The animal survived and was released following a veterinary consultation over the phone.
Both that iguana and Big Guy have been luckier than several iguanas which have been killed on the roads in Cayman Brac in the last year or two. In February, a large male iguana known as Charlie was found dead on Bluff West Road. Last year, four rock iguanas were killed on the roads of the island.
Encroaching development is pushing the iguanas into populated areas and onto the island’s roadsides, while newly paved roads appear to be encouraging more speeding drivers on Cayman Brac, leading to more of the animals becoming roadkill. A count of iguanas on the island taken in early 2012 showed there were fewer than 90 of the reptiles surviving.