Allen Fraser had always loved reptiles, and his earliest memories were of playing with dinosaur toys. When he was in the third grade, a teacher brought a variety of animals to a show-and-tell, and Allen was mesmerized by a green iguana.
When he was thirty years of age, Allen saw a girl with an iguana in a park near his home. He wanted to talk to her, to asker her a thousand questions, but she was talking with a few children and Allen did not want to interrupt.
Allen started walked through the park every day for the next two week, looking for the girl with the iguana, but she was never there. Or perhaps she was; Allen realized that he would not recognize her without an iguana. He could not remember how she looked.
A few months later, Allen decided to get an iguana. He had always wanted one, so why not just do it? He checked local pet stores, but none of them carried iguanas, and the staff warned him against getting one. The internet agreed with the pet store staff, as it turned out, and Allen learned that the green iguana is a stubborn, potentially dangerous lizard with a terrible disposition. He watched videos showing how unmanageable they are during mating season and he saw photos of horrifying wounds they inflict on hapless owners. Despite all of the negatives, or perhaps because of them, Allen wanted an iguana even more than before.
On Allen’s thirty-second birthday, he purchased a juvenile green iguana which he named Lily. She hated him and tail whipped him every time he cleaned her enclosure or gave her fresh food. Just looking at her caused her fits of rage, and when he accidentally looked directly into her eyes, he had to back away before she would attack.
As months passed, Lily grew, and Allen realized he needed a larger enclosure for her. He enlisted the help of friends and built what looked like a large fort or garden shed in his living room. The enclosure took up a lot of space, crowding his entertainment system and furniture out. Heat lamps, ultraviolet lamps, and humidifiers combined with queen-sized pillows on shelves completed Lily’s new home.
Lily continued to hate Allen, showing her disdain by slashing his arm and tail whipping him across the face, but he was patient and talked soothingly to her as he cleaned her enclosure and offered her food. It took months of daily attempts, but she eventually ate some pumpkin sprouts from his hand. Allen was overcome with emotion at this smallest of breakthroughs, but he had been trying for so long that this seemed like the best day of his life.
By this time, Lily had grown to a length of nearly two meters and was showing male characteristics like chalky spurs from femoral glands and a wider head with larger jowls.
As months turned into the first year, Allen started to win his iguana over. Now named Rex, his iguana regularly accepted treats by hand and occasionally permitted Allen to touch him. They spent several hours a day together, Allen and Rex, as Allen sat on the floor of his bathroom and Rex splashed in the bathtub.
Almost exactly a year after coming home with him, Allen was able to pick Rex up without a fight. Their relationship changed after that, and Allen was able to start giving Rex more freedom in his home. By the time they had lived together for two years, Rex would spend most of the day laid out on pillows set up in sunny spots.
Allen, meanwhile, was spending $80 a week and two hours a day preparing food for Rex.