WI Iguana Husbandry Manual complete.pdf


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Husbandry Manual for West Indian Iguanas
By Jeffrey M. Lemm1, Nancy Lung2, D.V.M, and Ann M.
Ward3, M. S.

1

Research Coordinator, Applied Animal Ecology Division, San Diego Zoo Institute
for Conservation Research
2Department of Veterinary Services, Fort Worth Zoo, 1989 Colonial Parkway, Fort
Worth, TX 76110
3
Director of Nutritional Services, Fort Worth Zoo, 1989 Colonial Parkway, Fort
Worth, TX 76110
Introduction
The West Indian iguanas are a unique group of large, herbivorous lizards that
inhabit tropical dry forests throughout the Bahamas and Greater and Lesser Antilles. The
group consists of two genera: the rock iguanas (Cyclura) and the Lesser Antillean and
green iguanas (Iguana). West Indian iguanas are among the most endangered lizards in
the world, primarily because much of the tropical dry forest they inhabit has been
eliminated by human development or severely degraded by exotic species. Feral
predators such as mongooses, cats, and dogs prey heavily on juvenile iguanas, and on
many islands, introduced livestock have denuded the vegetation on which iguanas
depend. Until the arrival of man and domestic livestock, iguanas were the largest native
land animals on these islands. Because they are potentially important seed dispersers
(Iverson, 1985; Hartley et al., 2000), the disappearance of West Indian iguanas could
have severe negative impacts on the island ecosystems where they live.
With the formation of the IUCN/SSC Iguana Specialist Group in 1997, a group
comprising many AZA institutions, conservation priorities have been established for this
group of lizards. Field research continues with most taxa, and breeding programs have
been developed for some of the more critically endangered taxa. In situ headstart
facilities have been constructed for those taxa for which juvenile survival is severely
impacted by introduced predators, and facilities are currently raising hatchlings for
release on Grand Cayman, Anegada, Mona, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
Several other facilities are being planned on other islands. Because so many West Indian
iguanas are now kept in breeding facilities both in situ and ex situ, there is a need to
develop standard protocols for appropriate husbandry. Other than a few species-specific
requirements, most Cyclura can be kept in similar fashion with success, whereas Iguana
delicatissima has its own set of husbandry needs.
The following information has been compiled from our work with iguanids, both
wild and captive, at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (formerly
known as CRES) and Fort Worth Zoo. In addition, 14 institutions (private and public)
submitted in-depth surveys on husbandry protocols for the various species held in
captivity. Participating facilities include: Ardastra Gardens (Nassau, Bahamas), Blue
Iguana Conservation Programme/National Trust for the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman,
Cayman Islands), Durrell Wildlife Preservation Trust (Jersey, Channel Islands, U.K.), El
Paso Zoo (El Paso, Texas), Finca Cyclura (Robert Ehrig – Big Pine Key, Florida, USA),
Indianapolis Zoo (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA), International Reptile Conservation
Foundation, Inc. (John and Sandy Binns - San Jose, California, USA), Lincoln Park Zoo
(Chicago, Illinois, USA), Miami MetroZoo (Miami, Florida, USA), St. Catherine’s
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