Rangers from Colorado Parks and Wildlife were stunned when they had to rescue a non-native creature found clinging to a boat for warmth at a campground in the Lake George area.
Eleven Mile State Park Manager Darcy Mount was skeptical when a call reporting an iguana call was received.
“I have responded to calls of eagles struggling in the water. I’ve had a gull wrapped in fishing line. I’ve answered calls about skunks that were actually raccoons. And there was a report of a fox that was, in fact, a Labrador," Mount said.
A camper found the tropical lizard desperately trying to stay warm by soaking up heat from a metal boat. When the camper approached, the iguana didn't run. Instead, the camper was able to easily grab it. Upon touching the iguana, it was revealed that he was extremely cold.
Iguanas need heat to survive. Cold-blooded animals needs supplemental heat for proper digestion, with ideal temperatures ranging anywhere from 70 to 90 degrees.
Lucky for the iguana, responding park ranger Darcy Mount is a snake keeper who knows the importance of keeping reptiles warm.
The staff, who decided to name the iguana "Miles," treated him to some fresh fruit and veggies. Ranger Mount, who also let Miles have the run of the office, said his favorite spot was the back of her chair where he'd spent hours sitting and watching.
Mount also turned up the thermostat in her office to keep Miles warm until the pair could make a trip to the humane society in Longmont that's dedicated to caring for reptiles.
Mount said the reporting camper assumed the iguana had escaped from another guest and stated that this could be a likely reason for the animal's odd discovery. Mount also expressed that it was very likely the iguana was intentionally dumped.
"Dumping animals is not unique to Colorado" stated Mount, feeling a strong suspicion that this was the same case for Miles. "I have heard of horses being let loose in the forest. And people even dump dogs and cats. All of this is heartbreaking and cruel."
Mount added that "taking a tropical reptile to a high altitude that had no food source and low overnight temperatures was inhumane."
Dumping non-native species in a natural landscape is not only cruel to the animal, it can also have a negative impact in the area. This is seen in the case of the Everglades where dumped pythons, iguanas, and monitors are decimating native populations.
Miles is now on the road to recovery. He is maintaining his sweet disposition and gaining weight. Despite some concerns over his vision, the Colorado Reptile Humane Society says Miles will soon be ready for adoption.