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Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 18667
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 40+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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Cant tell if iguana is dead or alive!

Resolved Question:

We have a female iquana, about 4 feet long, age unknown. We live in central Florida. Our iguana, Lizzie, stays outside in a large cage with a heat rock. It normally does not get cold enough to bother her. After our recent cold spell, however, 3 days ago, Lizzie appears to be dead. BUT after hearing on the news of the "falling iguanas" in Miami, now we are not sure. Rigormortis has not set in after three days, yet she remains lifeless, even 24 hours after laying inside on a human heating pad. We cannot afford to take her to a vet, especially for him to tell us that she is indeed dead. Yet, we do not want to bury her alive if she is'nt! How long can iguanas remain comatose after hypothermia, and how long before they become stiff with rigormortis once dead? Can anyone help us!!! Thanks
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Joan replied 7 years ago.


I am so sorry to take so long to answer as your question was put in the wrong category.

Can you tell me what temps she was in and for how long?

Have you tried a warm soak?


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
yes, thank you for your response. the temps got down in the 30's overnight, but not to freezing. she was out overnight. we thought she was dead the next day. it warmed up to the 50's..still no response..we brought her in and she's been on a heating pad for over 24 hours now, and in a warm bath, wrapped up and put back on heating pad. i tried to put a little water in her mouth i had to pry open. still no response, but no rigormortis either. i can move her limbs and toes just fine. her side and tummy is soft, but she is still cold to the touch over her back and top side.
Expert:  Joan replied 7 years ago.


I am in Fl. too, and understand what you are saying. When the temps drop to 50*'s, so do the Iguanas. I was almost hit by one that dropped out of my Pine tree. It is not uncommon for an IG to go into a deep sleep when the temps drop. I would definately keep her in. Continue with with trhe warming and you can also use some Plain Pedialyte in the warm bath. This will help because Reptiles absorb fluids throug.h the Vent area. She may start coming around with the warmth or she may stay under due to the abrupt dop in temps. This is called Brumation which is the Reptile version of hibernation. You will need to get a UVB light on the IG and bring the overhead temps into the 90* range. Do not try to give anything orally. Joan

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
thank you so much. how long would she stay under? do we keep rotating between the warm baths with the pedialyte and the heating pad and uv light until she either comes to or gets stiff? i assume and from everything i've read she would get stiff with rigormortis when/if she dies? again, thank you so much!!!!!
Expert:  Joan replied 7 years ago.


They can saty under for a couple of months. Use 1/2 pedialyte in with the warm water as they do absorb fluids through the vent area.She needs the UVB to help the body metabolize calcium in the body. Basically it will be time that will tell. This is a picture of the one that almost hit me in the head.graphic

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
That looks a lot like Lizzie! Again, thank you so much!!! We will try all these things!
Expert:  Joan replied 7 years ago.


Good luck with Lizzie! I have been on rescue patrol since the weather has dropped into the 60's and have been working overtime on Reptile Rescues with the cold snaps. Joan