Pugsley's Story

(Note: Be warned--some of the pictures that follow require a strong stomach.)

Pugsley is a 7-year-old male, five foot long iguana that we rescued on December 16th, 2001. The ironic thing about this rescue is that we rescued him from fellow rescuers! They had taken Pugsley in, but hadn’t taken him to the vet, because they could not afford the vet bills that would incur. Sadly, this is an all too common situation.


Pugsley before his tail problems, chilling out by the PC.

When we arrived at the people’s house, they told us that Pugsley had “something wrong with his tail.” What was wrong was that this 5-foot iguana had 3 feet of dry gangrene on his tail. He also had a bacterial skin infection and a fungal skin infection that was leaving scars all over his body each time he shed his skin.

Pugsley's bacterial infection.

We took him out of his cage and tried to put him in the pet carrier. Because he was so long, we had to curl his tail around to get it to fit all the way in the carrier. When we curled Pugsley’s tail around, it snapped halfway off!  It was hanging by some broken bone and skin, but for the most part the dead tissue had just snapped right through.

We had to get the rest of the tail off somehow, or else Pugsley’s life would have been at risk… so Pugsley’s owner let us use his big bolt cutters. We brought him into the kitchen. I held him and my husband chopped his tail clean through. It was the only thing we could do to save his life at that point.

 Pugsley's tail, not long after amputation.

The following day, we took Pugsley to the vet. Pugs seemed ok, but we noticed that the bit of tail he had left was curving to the left and was very stiff.  The vet did some x-rays and found that the dry gangrene had crept almost all the way up to his hips.  They decided to amputate the rest of his tail right up to his hemipenes.

The day of his surgery came. It had snowed very hard the night before, and only the vet and myself were able to make it into the office that day.  I got a first hand view of iguana surgery, since I was asked to assist!  The tail amputation was a success, and Pugsley came through with flying colors.  He was put on antibiotics and sent home later that day.   We ran into trouble right away though, because the swelling from his tail was pushing his hemipenes out.  Later that week they had to be stitched in so that they would stay put.  One never would stay and ended up having to be amputated a week later.

Pugsley's amputation, further along.

A week later, we took Pugsley back for a recheck and his hind claw accidentally poked into his tail end, where the open wound was.  The claw pierced thru the scab and green fluid oozed out.  The vet removed the whole scab to find green “paste” growing underneath.  He has been on two rounds of antibiotics since then and still isn’t out of the woods yet.  But he is doing fairly well.  He has a good appetite and the swelling seems to be going down.  

We wish the best for Pugsley.  He has had a difficult life.  We just want him to spend the rest of it without pain and suffering.

Rescuing iguanas involves much more than just taking them from a bad environment. We also need to ensure that they are getting all of their needs met in a good environment. Caring for these iguanas takes both time and money. Many people do not know what they are taking on when they decide to get an iguana. Educating people is the only way to help prevent situations like Pugsley’s from occurring so frequently. 

Pugsley today, sans tail but doing well.

Pugsley's Update

Pugs has had both hemipenes removed, but has recovered well. He has been adopted into a loving family.