Catching iguanas can be tricky
Updated: August 27, 2012 6:12AM
LA GRANGE — Quick hands and quick wits are needed to catch iguanas darting through the dense brush and rocky terrain of remote Bahama islands, said 16-year-old Paolo Delfini of La Grange.
“They’re fast,” said the said Lyons Township High School junior who spent 10 days in April on a research expedition to tag the animals.
“If you took a step, you could hear them,” he explained. “It took a lot of listening to where they were. Then you’d try to get them out of the brush into one area and net them.”
Delfini also said the training session on handling iguanas with sharp claws and teeth was invaluable, and so were gloves while holding the animals so a researcher could draw blood.
“You have to hold them under the jaw so they can’t turn around and bite you,” he said. “I also had to keep a loose enough grip so they weren’t uncomfortable.”
And a certain release technique was in order, Delfini said. After gaining more experience toward the end of the trip, he sometimes handled iguanas without wearing gloves.
“You let the back legs go first so they can’t turn around and bite you. Then you let the front legs go and pull your hands away,” he said. “I did have one who didn’t move when I let him go. He turned and bit my shoe and then ran away.”