This is Che’s tail –he’s in his hide box. He sleeps in there and goes in when he doesn’t like what’s going on. That could be whenever I forget he hates red and I have on a red shirt when I come in, or when my husband is running the skid steer or tractor, and he sees it out that window.
Che doesn’t mind the truck. He knows the difference between the F350 and the UPS truck. He learned that the F350 meant Mark was home and time for a treat vs. UPS guy –no treat.
Here he is! Che is a Cuban iguana, Cyclura nubila. Same genus as the Jamaican iguana. Che’s dormer is in my office, since it has a door –it’s actually the upstairs bathroom.
We live in a barn with open space. The stone-tiled floor has radiant heat. Che’s breakfast includes collard, spinach-mustard, tatsoi, dandelion. We’re in the autumn diet, when frost has killed most of his favorite weeds.
This is Luna, Che’s girlfriend. They are like the Bickersons, which is why Che lives upstairs in my office, and Luna is downstairs, in her own room (with a heated stone floor).
That white patch on her cheek? Che bit her –they were having an argument. So now, they get to see each other during warm weather, when both go out on the downstairs deck to their separate sunning cages. Once there, they nod heads and make faces at each other.
I’m starting my blog with some great news: The Goat Islands in Jamaica are saved!
When the battle for Goat Islands was hot I saw this beautiful portrait of the Jamaican iguana and burst into tears. Oh, please don’t let it happen. I see myself in that lizard and if he and his kind die, part of me dies.
I couldn’t do anything to save him, couldn’t make people care about a lizard. I was helpless and the despair made me want to hide and not have to watch the tragedy. But the iguanas and Goat Islands are safe for now.
Here’s a photo of Emo and me. Emo is a rhinoceros iguana, in the same genus as the Jamaican iguana:
The bad news is, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department failed to pass a ban on using gasoline to flush rattlesnakes out of their dens for the horrific rattlesnake roundups. Here’s the Center for Biodiversity’s film about why we shouldn’t gas rattlesnake dens.
I heard about rattlesnake roundups in the 80s, and I still carry images of what happens to the snakes. Here’s a bit from an essay I was working on:
“…The first time I met a rattlesnake in the wild he was in a coil by a path, his pattern blending in with the rocks and sand. I stood just a few feet away, holding onto my excitement.
“Being so close to a live rattlesnake heightened my senses –I wanted to know about him and didn’t want to miss a thing. I saw his breath, saw his body move slightly with intake of air. I watched for his tongue to flick out to see if he was awake and after a moment, it did, cautiously tasting the air.
“Of course he was awake, with a giant like me thundering up the path, he was keeping still, trying not to be seen. I saw his cat’s eye pupil move. He didn’t rattle and I didn’t want to make him by frightening him.
“I kept still too, taking in his angular head and keeled scales that would surely feel like the worn wooden handle of a garden tool, warm and dry in my hand. Time slowed and there was only the snake and me and I felt like I could really breathe and be just plain happy.
“After a while I started up the path, trying to understand why people feared and hated rattlesnakes. Certainly people got bitten, certainly the venom could cause pain and tissue damage, but death from rattlesnake bite was rare.
“If I’d tried to catch the rattlesnake, he’d have rattled, then struck if I didn’t back off. More likely, he’d have uncoiled and fled into the bush.
“I imagined the snake sunning himself on a porch step, and a child coming out of the house and trying to pick him up. The child would be bitten and rushed to the hospital, and the snake hacked to death. This is the story that becomes headline news…”