Stories

Stories.

My fascination with fijian iguanas started many years ago. We have to go back to the early 90s, when i was still living with my parents. For as long as i remember i have loved reptiles, just like many of you.
My first encounter with the fijian iguana was a photo in a cheap reptile book. But back then fiji iguanas had quite the price tag, and there was no way for me to find the money needed.
As years went by i still dreamed about fiji iguanas, but in the mean time i had grown quite fond of monitor lizards and kept a few species. I had a pair of blue tree monitors, that i had decided to let go. This was around 2008 i think. And since those monitors was already sold and just needed to be pickwd up in hamm, i spend my time looking on terraristik.com to see if any interesting animals where available. Suddenly my heart nearly stopped, someone had posted a pair of fiji iguanas. So without thinking i wrote to the seller, and the price was within my budget. I wqnted them soo bad, but i could not go to hamm myself. So in a split second, i send a sms to a good friend asking if he could bring back two iguanas. He helped me out with the deal and i got my first pair of fiji iguanas.
Over the years,my passion just grew and i ended up with quite alot of fiji iguanas. With babies i had almost 20 at one point.
Then came the age of Facebook, and it waa,so nice to find others that shared the pasqion for fiji iguanas, and the amount of people owning fiji iguanas has only gone up until this day.
Sadly with many younger owners, also came arrogant owners that think they are better. And these people have taken much of my joy of keeping fiji iguanas away.
What i dont get here in 2020, is that people still think its a competition, so they tey to breed the most, create their own groups and so on. There is no fiji iguana community anymore, and that is a sad thing. We could have been the best community within the reptile hobby. But sadly with arrogance and competition those days are gone. And soon we the older keepers will be nothing more then ghosts within fiji iguana keepers. Our knowledge and experience will not be listen to any more because of these arrogant younger keepers.

In the end i hope that fiji iguana keepers one day will be able to talk about the differences between them, and form a strong community.

May you all be safe and hopefully find a way to bring the fiji iguana owners together.

Maybe ill see some of you one day.

Another late night story.



The last story i told was about how i felt in love with fiji iguanas. This time ill talk a little about my feeding and how it changed over the years.

Back in the early 2000s when I got my first pair of fiji iguanas, my knowledge was limited, especially on the feeding and not too much info was available on the subject.
The info I had to work with all told that fiji iguanas where omnivores, so they needed a diet of insects and plant matter. So I gave them fresh vegetables and fruit every day and insects about 2 times a week. They did well, and I got eggs from them, and all was good.
Later on I found a field study that had been done on fiji crested iguanas ( I do assume the diet of all the fiji iguana species are the same ), and this study showed a very different feeding then what i had read from breeders. This study was done over a year, and was done on both males, females and young iguanas. What this study showed was that the wild fiji iguanas where not omnivores, but infact they where herbivores.
With that knowledge I changed the diet of my iguanas to a diet similar to that of green iguanas in captivity.
Then came the whole looking into different plants that could be used as food, and what plants they where eating in the wild. Sadly it was not possible for me to obtain the plants that they eat in the wild, other then Hibiscus tiliaceus. The iguanas did not show a preference for this specific type of hibiscus, and where happy with any type offered.

We all know how we suddenly become geeks when a subject really catch out attention, and the plants and the nutrition was something I was a geek about, and that was part of why the website www.brachylophus.dk was created. During this time i consulted with other iguana owners and talked about diet for iguanas, sadly not everyone is as nice as they pretend to be, and friendships where lost sue to stupid little disagreements, but thats life, not everyone show you who they really are at first.
In the wild the iguanas showed a clear preference for was Vavaea amicorum, after more then a year looking for seeds i simply gave up, as it clearly was not possible to obtain these seeds. So the Vavaea amicorum showed to be the main diet of the iguanas as they where eating both leaves, flowers and fruit, and in total the study on the diet of wild fiji iguanas showed only around 40 items where eaten, where most of those where on rare occasions.
That resulted in me focusing on feeding about 20-30 different items on a regular basis, with seasonal variations throughouttheyear. I could easily have chosen to feed 100+ or more items, but aiming for that large amount of different items, you easily loose track on the basic needs of the iguanas.

Back to the omnivore belief. When we look at the breeding success back when it was believed that the iguanas where omnivore, and the lifespan, it do not seem to really harm the iguanas. My own Hugh Hefner was fedt an omnivore diet until he was about 10 years old, and he is still doing well today at the age of 16.
So even they don't eat insects in the wild ( to my knowledge ), they do seem to happily eat them in captivity.
And i will not be the judge on how people should feed their iguanas, its up to the individual keepers.

Moving away from the omnivore diet. Years ago I came across this Asian reptile breeder on Facebook, he showed great success with breeding iguanas ( he did not have fiji iguanas ), and i got curious about his feeding of his iguanas as i had seen him feeding some pellets. This man was Ty Park, and i send him a message asking him politely about his diet, and to my surprise, he responded rather quickly, and in a really nice and kind way.
Those pellets I had seen was mazuri tortoise diet. So if he had good success adding these pellets to the diet of all his iguanas, I saw no harm in trying it for my own iguanas. I managed to find them here in Denmark, and I soaked them in water before adding a couple on top of the regular food. The iguanas totally loved it, and I still use the mazuri to this day, not as a regular food, but more as a treat for them a few times a month.

I even took it as far as drying leafy greens for the iguanas. Tried to sprinkle it on their food and also soak it. When sprinkled on the food they would eat it, but not when it was soaked.
And as the nutrition search continued, I found bee pollen, back then no one really used it for iguanas, but i found the nutritional information on it, and it is a very complex little grain with a lot of different vitamins, minerals, amino acids and so on. I used it for a while and started seeing more and more iguana owners started to use it as well. Today alot of herbivore lizard owners use pollen, and its great to see people using a natural "super" food.

After all this research into nutrition, I came to a conclusion earlier this year, that I wont dry leafy greens anymore. Instead I have found leafy green powders used a pro athletes, so I mix some of those powders together with extra calcium and bee pollen.

Can my diet be improved?, it most likely can, just as everyone else's. But this diet works for me, and a healthy 16 year old fiji iguana is good enough proof for me.

Ill add some of these stories to the website as well, in case people want to read them later on.


Late night story 3


These posts are very honest, and sometimes alot of emotions are involved.
For tonight, lets talk about my years of breeding fiji iguanas. This was not a smooth ride for me as i did not have any experienced breeders to ask advise from, so i had to figure it all out on my own.
I cant remember when was the first time i had fertile eggs from my iguanas, but around 10-11 years ago i think. Back then i used open nest boxes with moist sand. The female (i only had 1 pair back then) did not seem fully happy about the nest box, but did lay eggs in it. What i did was to add an extra nest box with a different substrate. For that second nest box, i used a forest soil mixed with a bit of sphagnum moss. In the few years after, the female would always choose the nest box with the forest soil.
Those first fertile eggs hatched after roughly 150 days, and of course I was very excited. But the excitement changed to frustration, as i was not able to keep the babies alive. This happend with the first 3 clutches of eggs that hatched. I was gutted to say it politely, and on the brink of giving up on breeding the fiji iguanas.
I gave it one last shot, threw out the baby cages and made some new ones. These new baby boxes had UV light, thermostat controlled basking spots. Feeding platforms was made so the food was raised above the ground. I even went so far so i threw out my vitamin powder.

So for the fourth clutch, everything was changed, and i had made up my mind that if they died, i would stop keeping fiji iguanas, as they where not common and needed to be with someone that was skilled enough to get some successful breeding going.
But luckily this fourth clutch hatched, and with all these changes, i had my first success in truly breeding fiji iguanas.
To say i was over the moon would be an understatement.
Thats how i started breeding fiji iguanas. Its not always just straight forward, and we need to remember that our failure, might give someone else success, and that is what should matter in this hobby. Only plea im going to make to you lovely people that read these posts, forget your pride, and help fellow reptile people.

Back to my breeding story.
So all was well with the babies, and i mqde separate food for them that was chopped much finer then the adults food. Today i know better, there really is no need to chop the food so fine for the babies, aa they can easily just get the same as the adults.

Over the years i gained more and more experience with the keeping and breeding, and started to hold back a few babies. The forst i held back was pretty boy and his sister.
Suddenly i found myself really enjoying raising those babies, and it was amazing watching them grow. They both became adults, and was paired up with other fiji iguanas. Pretty boy took what felt like forever to start dominating behavior, so he was about 4 years old before i got my first fertile eggs from him. His sister was about 27-28 month before she started laying fertile eggs. Sadly pretty boy's sister died at a young age. I thought she was gravid, but in reality she was suffering from yolk
coelomitis. This has at least in the past been a,problem for San Diego Zoo, as they lost 9 or 11 females out of 21, to yolk coelomitis.
It was a hard blow,to loose her as she was special, since her and pretty boy was my first holdbacks.

I continued my work with these iguanas, and rebuild the adult cages. I added a 4mm acrylic sheet in the bottom of the cages, and made the entire cage bottom a nest box.
Thats when i started seeing a different behavior. When gravid, the females would go to the bottom, up to 1 week before lqying eggs, to start digging around in the soil. What they did was test digging to find,the best spot inside the cage for the eggs.
Shortly after i stopped feeding the iguanas insects, and i really started seeking out info on the keeping and breeding. Later on was when i dropped the omnivore feeding, and focused on a completely herbivore diet.

Luckily pretty boys sister is the only fiji iguana i have lost to yolk coelomitis.

Aa raise up cages i have used different types of cages, but i like to use tubs for the babies. One advantage with the tubs is that they are easy to clean, and they also dont weigh much. The only thing that is,important when using tubs is, that the uv light should not be too close to the sides of the tub, as normally the tubs are to made to handle uv.

Remember, these stories are not care guides. All they are is my memory and how i started and ended where i am now.

Late night story 4


These posts are very honest, and sometimes alot of emotions are involved.
For tonight, lets talk about my years of breeding fiji iguanas. This was not a smooth ride for me as i did not have any experienced breeders to ask advise from, so i had to figure it all out on my own.
I cant remember when was the first time i had fertile eggs from my iguanas, but around 10-11 years ago i think. Back then i used open nest boxes with moist sand. The female (i only had 1 pair back then) did not seem fully happy about the nest box, but did lay eggs in it. What i did was to add an extra nest box with a different substrate. For that second nest box, i used a forest soil mixed with a bit of sphagnum moss. In the few years after, the female would always choose the nest box with the forest soil.
Those first fertile eggs hatched after roughly 150 days, and of course I was very excited. But the excitement changed to frustration, as i was not able to keep the babies alive. This happend with the first 3 clutches of eggs that hatched. I was gutted to say it politely, and on the brink of giving up on breeding the fiji iguanas.
I gave it one last shot, threw out the baby cages and made some new ones. These new baby boxes had UV light, thermostat controlled basking spots. Feeding platforms was made so the food was raised above the ground. I even went so far so i threw out my vitamin powder.

So for the fourth clutch, everything was changed, and i had made up my mind that if they died, i would stop keeping fiji iguanas, as they where not common and needed to be with someone that was skilled enough to get some successful breeding going.
But luckily this fourth clutch hatched, and with all these changes, i had my first success in truly breeding fiji iguanas.
To say i was over the moon would be an understatement.
Thats how i started breeding fiji iguanas. Its not always just straight forward, and we need to remember that our failure, might give someone else success, and that is what should matter in this hobby. Only plea im going to make to you lovely people that read these posts, forget your pride, and help fellow reptile people.

Back to my breeding story.
So all was well with the babies, and i mqde separate food for them that was chopped much finer then the adults food. Today i know better, there really is no need to chop the food so fine for the babies, aa they can easily just get the same as the adults.

Over the years i gained more and more experience with the keeping and breeding, and started to hold back a few babies. The forst i held back was pretty boy and his sister.
Suddenly i found myself really enjoying raising those babies, and it was amazing watching them grow. They both became adults, and was paired up with other fiji iguanas. Pretty boy took what felt like forever to start dominating behavior, so he was about 4 years old before i got my first fertile eggs from him. His sister was about 27-28 month before she started laying fertile eggs. Sadly pretty boy's sister died at a young age. I thought she was gravid, but in reality she was suffering from yolk
coelomitis. This has at least in the past been a,problem for San Diego Zoo, as they lost 9 or 11 females out of 21, to yolk coelomitis.
It was a hard blow,to loose her as she was special, since her and pretty boy was my first holdbacks.

I continued my work with these iguanas, and rebuild the adult cages. I added a 4mm acrylic sheet in the bottom of the cages, and made the entire cage bottom a nest box.
Thats when i started seeing a different behavior. When gravid, the females would go to the bottom, up to 1 week before lqying eggs, to start digging around in the soil. What they did was test digging to find,the best spot inside the cage for the eggs.
Shortly after i stopped feeding the iguanas insects, and i really started seeking out info on the keeping and breeding. Later on was when i dropped the omnivore feeding, and focused on a completely herbivore diet.

Luckily pretty boys sister is the only fiji iguana i have lost to yolk coelomitis.

Aa raise up cages i have used different types of cages, but i like to use tubs for the babies. One advantage with the tubs is that they are easy to clean, and they also dont weigh much. The only thing that is,important when using tubs is, that the uv light should not be too close to the sides of the tub, as normally the tubs are to made to handle uv.

Remember, these stories are not care guides. All they are is my memory and how i started and ended where i am now.

Late night story 5


On this late night, lets look into the future.
So what could and what should happen?. Sadly our hobby is under pressure from animal rights groups, i personally had hope for the reptile community to finally come together as this is a common enemy no matter if you keep iguanas or snakes. But sadly people turn the blind eye to it.
Our tiny fiji " community " cant even stand together, which i find very sad. I feel like i have tried all ideas ive been able to cook up inside my crazy head, and yet all fail.
The latest idea was the Brachylophus news, but again, like all the other times people do not want to participate.
As for me, i have decided that im out of the social part of the fiji community on Facebook, as i have done all i can to try and bring the keepers together.

I hope that keepers and breeders of fiji iguanas wake up soon, and maybe start to care about fiji iguanas in their native habitat, and then arrange something so keepers and breeders can help as well.

Enough with all the negative stuff. For me, i will keep fiji iguanas until the day im 6ft under. I love these iguanas and could not imagine a life without them. As many know i have cut back alot on breeding pairs, why?, well i had alot of problem with the people in our cites office, they made a lot of problem even i send all the correct paper work. But now im holding back some of the babies i hatch this year, simply because i want to keep some of my own cb and to learn more about growth and social behavior VS kept as single.
I dont know how much i will publish about it, but you are always welcome to PM me or send an email, if you have any questions or if you are just curious about how they all are doing.

Future plans for the website.
I will keep the website, and i do want to expand it, so if anyone has ideas to what is missing or what could be cool, then please let me know. I did think about a forum, but the activity will be very low, as we already see on other forums these days.


I'll end this little story now, and who knows maybe we will see each other in the future when reptile shows really open up again, if not then we have to beat Dāv Kaufman's ass so he can come shoot a video :-D


Hugh Hefner. The first fiji iguana i have owned.

Female eating a dusted dubia roach.

Photo taken around 2014.

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