Rocky's a sweetheart.
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 94 17:54:57 PDT
Subject: Rocky's a sweetheart.
Forwarded-by: bostic@vangogh.CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: Adam Glass <email@example.com>
[Reprinted without permission from OMNI, May 1994.]
You're a woman, and it's that time of the month. You steel yourself
for what's probably in store: bloating, cramps, mood swings... and an
attack by your pet iguana?
According to Fredric L. Frye, former clinical professor of medicine
at the University of California, Davis, and co-author of a new book on
iguana care from Krieger Publishing, more than 30 women have reported
male lizards that become sexually aroused enough to attack the women
when their monthly menstrual periods begin or when they ovulate. "Some
of the bites have required plastic surgery," says Frye.
Take Helen L. Benton, secretary of the mid-Ohio Herpetological
Society. Benton has been attacked by her 40-inch-long iguana, Rocky,
whose assaults occur when she's menstruating and he's in season, from
mid-July until late October. "When I open his cage door, Rocky grabs my
arm or my hand with his teeth and holds me down," says Benton. "If I
try to pull away, he'll bite. It I become submissive, he mounts me and
Frye's investigation of this incident and others has turned up some
surprising similarities. Most of these lizards were obtained as
juveniles, Frye notes, and many showered with their owners and were even
fed at the family table. What's more, in virtually all the cases, adult
human males were not part of the household at the time of the attack.
Scientists are still investigating the underlying cause of this "lizard
love." Says Frye, "We think they could be responding to chemical cues,
or pheromones, produced by menstruating or ovulating women. Male
iguanas may respond to the cues as if they were secreted by the female
of their species."
Benton solves her problem by plunging a pacifier into Rocky's mouth
when he lunges at her. "He thinks he's got me, and that calms him
down," she says. But Frye suggests the solution may be neutering the
iguana, as pet owners neuter cats and dogs. "Neutered iguanas," he
says, "are loving and good."
Benton says she may consider this alternative for Rocky if the
pacifier doesn't continue to work. "Rocky's just a sweetheart," she
says, "when his hormones aren't surging out of control."
-- Anita Baskin
© 1994 Peter Langston