Green Iguana Society logo  1999-2001, D. Baze

At some time, no matter how well you have cared for your iguana, you will have to deal with the death of your pet. Over time, the bond between a pet and its owner makes for a very sorrowful and sad end to the time they've spent together. I lost my first iguana after several visits to the vet and a lot of regret for the improper care I had given him earlier in his life. The regret was the hardest thing to deal with because I knew that if I had given him better care, he would still be here today. Dealing with the death of your iguana won't be easy, especially if you've spent years caring for it. Here are a few suggestions and some advice I'd like to give you to help you deal with the loss of your pet...

  • First of all, don't blame yourself. Yes, it may very well be your fault that your iguana's life was cut short because of improper care (whether it was intentional or not), but blaming yourself will not make it any better. The best thing you can do instead of blaming yourself is to learn from your mistakes, and if you do choose to get another iguana, make up for it by providing better care for the next iguana (even if it's someone else's iguana).

  • Even though you may want to rush out and replace your lost pet, it may be a bad idea to do so. Take your time. As strange as it may sound, you may want to sit back and remember your lost pet for a while, instead of replacing it. If you did lose your iguana due to improper care, it may also be a good idea to learn as much as you can about the proper care they need before you jump into another commitment of properly caring for another iguana. Even experienced iguana owners can learn more about proper care. Reading and learning more about good iguana husbandry may even take your mind off your sorrows as well. Chances are you will want to get another shortly after the death of your iguana. This is quite normal and I suggest you fight the urge and wait until you absolutely know the time is right to welcome another iguana into your life.

  • Although it may sound like an inappropiate or "bad" idea, it can be a very beneficial thing to have a necropsy done on your iguana. A necropsy is an autopsy performed by a vet to determine the exact cause of death. Much can be learned by having a necropsy done and the facts you learn from it can help you improve the care you may give another iguana. You may discover that certain ways you cared for it, including diet and habitat requirements, could be improved on next time. Not only can a necropsy benefit you, but it may also benefit the overall care of iguanas everywhere. Your vet may learn a thing or two as well. Some vets who may not be true iguana experts will jump at the chance to perform a necropsy on an iguana, so they too will learn more about better iguana husbandry. Some vets may charge you for a necropsy, but most will perform one for free. Many people don't want their beloved pet "cut up" or "destroyed" with a necropsy, but if there is a chance that something can be learned to better the care of some iguana somewhere, please consider it before you give your pet a permanent resting spot.

  • Another good idea to help you deal with the loss of your pet is to give your pet an appropriate burial with a memorial of some kind as well. Many people go as far as an all out memorial in a pet cemetery, but a nice resting spot in the back yard serves its purpose as well. There's nothing wrong with having an attractive constant reminder of a lost pet decorating your lawn for years to come. My iguana has a nice little iguana statue (that I have had for almost as many years as I had him) sitting on a pile of stones with vines growing throughout it. All of which sits under a nice shady tree in my back yard. As odd as it may sound, every time I cut the grass or do some yard work, I can't help but remember some experience or little thing about my iguana and the time I spent with him. As a matter of fact, my iguana was notoriously aggressive. I believe I may be allergic to the vines in his memorial, so even now that he's gone, he still manages to bite and scratch me. Things like this, even as bad as they may sound, can cheer you up when you least expect it.

  • Many people recommend remembering the good things about your pet to cheer you up when you're feeling down about your loss. This is a fantastic idea, but I've found that remembering the bad times can be just as beneficial. My iguana was the textbook example of an aggressive male iguana. There were so many times that I was so frustrated with trying to tame him and curb his aggressive behavior. Many times he attempted to bite, tail whip and charge at me. Those were hard times, to say the least, but now that he's gone, looking back at those times brings a smile to my face (as strange as it may sound!) He even managed to bite my nose, giving me a scar and a humorous story (even though it was far from humorous at the time). So, basically, I guess what I'm trying to say, is that not only by remembering the good times you had together, but remembering the bad times may very well bring some happiness to you while dealing with the death of your iguana.

  • Talk with other iguana owners. You don't necessarily have to discuss your feelings or your loss to help you deal with it (although that may very well help). I found that just listening to and helping new iguana owners struggle through the tough time of learning how to care for their new pet was very helpful in dealing with the loss of my iguana. Helping others better care for their iguanas also, in a way, may help you make up for any improper care you gave your iguana. This is one of the reasons I helped start the Green Iguana Society, so others could learn from my mistakes and in a way, make me feel better about the fact that I may be preventing another person from ending up in the same situation.

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