If you haven't already figured it out, Cookie is QUITE the character. He has a very unique personality, and hence, I felt the only way to do him justice was to create this web site for him.
I used to live with as many as ten iguanas at one time between the late seventies and late eighties. I haven't had one in many years since my favorite, Godzilla, passed away some years back. Godzilla traveled everywhere with me. I used to sneak him on airplanes, and he took many road trips. I raised him from the time he was the size of my thumb SVL, up to around 3 feet or so STL. He was my best friend, and I miss him terribly...
On a recent trip to Florida to help out my mother during one of her chemo treatments (long story), I got a phone call from one of my lady friends down there, telling me that there was an iguana in her mother's yard. It turns out that this 4 foot little monster was basking on their screened in porch, as it came in through the cat door (iguanas are not all that uncommon in Fort Lauderdale as MANY pet iguanas have escaped over the years).
My friends step dad shooed him off the porch and into the backyard with a little broom (which is better than chopping him in half with a shovel like my grandfather (RIP Tom) would have done!). When they called me, as they knew I'd had iguanas before, it was 11:30 at night, and POURING rain. I rushed right over with a pillow case and a flashlight.
When I arrived, the iguana was all the way up at the top of an orange tree. Obviously, there was no way to get to him, so I told my friend's step-dad to watch him the next day, and give me a call when he thought the iguana was low enough to the ground that I might be able to catch him.
I got the telephone call at around 11:30 AM the next morning. It was overcast out, so I knew he'd still be a bit sluggish. I grabbed a pillow case, and a nice chunk of red bell pepper from my mom's fridge (mom always has GREAT stuff in her fridge) to entice him with.
When I arrived, he was sitting on top of a tall picket fence behind a big bush. He was positioned in such a way (behind the bush) that if I would have tried to catch him, he would have jumped on the other side of the fence and ran away. I have yet to meet an iguana that could resist a tasty treat, so basically what I did was lure him out with the chunk of red bell pepper I brought until he was in the clear and I could grab him.
When I did, he proceeded to absolutely THRASH my wrists. He has razor sharp tungsten carbide VAST PAIN claws. I held him for a while, but eventually had to put him down, as the pain of him THRASHING me was too great. He walked around the yard for a while before I attempted to pick him up again (after, of course, feeding him some more red bell pepper...:) ). When I picked him up the second time, he didn't thrash as much, and I was able to bring him into the screened porch. I named him "Cookie"...:)
I was CLUELESS as to what I was going to do with this beautiful animal. I live in Connecticut, so it would be a TAD difficult to get him home. I did know, however, that if I released him, his chances weren't very good. The fence he was on top of was around ten feet or so from the main road.
I figured I'd let him go at Bonnet House, which is a local mansion/museum in Fort Lauderdale. Bonnet House has a woods that is inhabited by many different critters such as wild monkeys, iguanas, parrots... all kinds of stuff. I figured he'd at least have a chance there, as people in that area are used to all the animals being around.
I hung out with him on the
screened porch for around 3 hours. I picked him up quite a few
times (wearing gloves this time), and he calmed right down. I
put him in a big box to take to show my mother before I released
him. He was perfectly calm in the dark box, unlike
Godzilla, who would go PSYCHO when I put him in a box. I took this as a good sign.
When I showed him to my mother and told her what was going on, she said "Hon, you HAVE to figure out a way to get him to Connecticut. You haven't had an iguana in a long time, and you've always enjoyed them."
That was all the prodding I needed. Since he was rather large, I secured a German Shepherd animal carrier for him. He was just as mellow and fine in the carrier as he was in the dark cardboard box. I called Delta Airlines, and they said bringing him home with me was no big deal, since I had a proper animal carrier.
I made a big label for the top of the carrier that said "Hi, my name is Cookie. Please be gentle with me" followed by my name, address, and flight information. Cookie was a HUGE hit at both airports!!! Everyone LOVED him, especially the airline people, and he got lots of attention. He was perfectly calm the entire time. I got him back to Connecticut without any problem what so ever.
A NOTE TO PEOPLE TRAVELING WITH ANIMALS ON AIRPLANES:
When boarding, ALWAYS tell the Stewardess...uh...I mean "Flight Attendant"... that you have an animal on board, and to remind the pilot to turn on the heat below. Once in a great while they forget. I have some friends who are pilots, and they refer to the heat switch for the baggage compartment as the "Puppy Snuffer." I think it's called this for obvious reasons...:)