I figured it out. Dorian just needed a hug. Well, not just any hug. He needed a Dad hug.It’s something that people don’t often associate with reptiles due to an unfamiliarity with them as pets, and with a media representation that suggests they are only kept by loners, weirdos, or super villains. What other creature could love someone like Franz Sanchez in License to Kill except for an iguana? I don’t think this is an active conspiracy, as if casting reptiles and their keepers in a poor light is part of some master plan (well… maybe Wayne Purcell’s) . As a result, people always say something like, “Oh, I didn’t know reptiles were so (a) full of personality, (b) friendly!”
Except that in reality, iguanas are amazingly loyal creatures. Researchers have found that iguanas bond with their humans best when the ages of 6-10 years old. This is when they begin to emotionally respond and form a empathetic relationship with their people-parents. We’d never question that bonding with a dog; perhaps it’s that dogs bond at a much faster rate. Cats may never do so, but we recognize when they do. Even chickens and other poultry do, so why is it so hard to imagine reptiles doing so?
Truth is, it’s not. Dorian has shown a great deal of seperation anxiety, and when I left him for six months in Alabama as I worked in Hoboken, those feelings of angst and anger boiled over in the little fella. He was just a bundled grumpiness and flat out resentment.
I finally got a chance to cuddle with him, and let him know that I was back as a full time dad. I would suggest that like nearly every creature, Dorian wants to feel safe, or at least the perception of feeling safe. As humans we’re no stranger to the perception being as powerful as the reality of safety, how else would you explain the TSA? For Dorian, there’s no place as safe as being held by me, and after a few days of grumpiness, that overwhelming desire to be safe superseded his feelings of resentment. Funny how that happens.
Since we got some time together, it’s been a much calmer household. Dorian is back to his regular routine, bossing other lizards around, couch surfing, and being our normal sweet grumpy butt. Who knew all it took was a nice long cuddle?