Iggy the iguana takes a stroll on campus

Shilah Montiel

Iggy the iguana takes a walk down the Hall of Science building.

Cristal Loza, Staff Writer

Iggy takes daily walks on campus for her health; she has sharp, long toenails that she uses to climb. She’s one of the more scaly members of the Cal State Long Beach community – she’s an iguana.

Iggy came to CSULB about seven years ago when James McKibben, director of the Science Learning Center, was contacted by then Chief of University Police Jack Pearson, who asked McKibben if he wanted an iguana.

McKibben said he was caught off guard by the question, but Pearson told him that his neighbors had said they found the iguana in their backyard. They put up fliers in the neighborhood, but nobody had contacted them, according to McKibben.

So Iggy came to live at the Science Learning Center. She was placed in a cage that had belonged to a large Burmese python 20 years ago. Some bright lights were set up in the cage for her, and everything was fine for about three weeks.

“Literally overnight Iggy went from a green iguana to an ash and gray color, almost dead,” McKibben said. “It could not stand up; its jaw was like rubber.”

McKibben said he didn’t know what was happening. He asked around the biology department, but no one knew much about iguanas. He then took Iggy to the Westminster Veterinary group.

At Westminster, a veterinarian examined Iggy and informed McKibben that Iggy had metabolic calcium deficiency, which results after an iguana doesn’t receive enough sunlight. Without sufficient sunlight, the reptile’s bones soften.

“They can’t eat, they can’t stand up, they can’t run, they can’t move,” McKibben said. “They literally die in place.”

However, with treatment from powered sun lamps and a special diet, Iggy returned to normal after about three weeks.

“She returned to being bright green and has been doing wonderfully ever since,” McKibben said.

Iggy is brought out on campus so she can receive direct sunlight, according to McKibben.

“We have power sunlight and UV lights, but she does better with a half an hour of true natural sunlight than she does with six hours of artificial sunlight,” he said.

The Science Learning Center is also home to animals such as a veiled chameleon, newts, poison dart frogs, two ball pythons and a 700-gallon aquarium in the process of restocking.

Students can see Iggy at the Science Learning Center located in room 110 of the Hall of Science from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.