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Pets / By Dr. Laura Wade

Q: I have a young green iguana that just lost part of his tail. What should I do and will it grow back?

A: Iguanas are amazing reptiles. They have a very effective safety mechanism in their tails that allows the tail to break off without actually causing much harm to the iguana.

There are several fracture planes in the middle to end of the tail that snap free if the animal is captured by the tail. That way, the predator gets a mouth full of tail and the iguana escapes with his life.

Sometimes owners inadvertently experience this adaptation when trying to catch their pet.

The tail will usually regrow on its own over a period of weeks. In most cases, however, it will be a bit shorter than the original tail.

If the stump of tail becomes infected or the iguana injures the tail closer to the body, you may need to have the tail surgically amputated. In this case, the tail usually doesn't grow back.

Prepared as a public service by the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society. Send questions to Pets, P.O. Box 1252, Buffalo, N.Y. 14205 or to the Web site at Sorry, personal replies cannot be provided.

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