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Dragons do exist!

Posted Sunday, February 5, 2012, at 8:05 PM

We couldn't believe it, when we saw this enormous iguana on the grounds of Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West, Florida several weeks ago. He was at least three feet long and 18 inches tall at the head. He did not seem afraid of us, but we gave him a wide berth.
We get an unexpected treat at a historic fort

There's lots to see at Key West, Florida, but my friend and I never expected to see this wonderful creature, when we went exploring at an old fort on the coast.

Fort Zachary Taylor was built in 1845. It was used as an outpost by the Union in Civil War and and was heavily-used in the Spanish American War in 1898. Most of the Civil War cannons were buried to make room for more modern weapons, but the cannons were later excavated. It is the nation's largest collection of civil war cannons.

The naval station on Key west was decommissioned in 1974.

None of this information explains why there is a 3 1/2 foot iguana living on the grounds of the park. I'm not sure if he's one of those semi-tame creatures like the little squirrel who ate peanuts out of my hand in Ft. Myers--or if he was totally wild, but we stood and photographed him for twenty minutes, before moving on to see the fort.

I googled iguanas and found that the orange color may signify that he's a male looking for a female. I hope he finds one, and I hope he's safe in that environment. What does he eat? Is he protected? I worry too much about things like that. There was no one out there to ask. The fort seemed well-cared for, but there was no one on duty.

The Keys are a wondrous place, full of exotic color and unusual customs. Of all the outlandish and foreign sights we saw, this orange dragon was by far the most mysterious and strange.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

It is so amazing to see an example of creatures that walked the earth thousands of years ago. This was such a beautiful creature it was a real thrill to have experienced this sighting.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Mon, Feb 6, 2012, at 1:33 PM

Pretty good proof that not all dinos became extinct! Dexterite is right! I just wonder how many of the dragon myths had some truth to them. I guess we'll never know, but we can enjoy the existing "dragons".

-- Posted by swift on Mon, Feb 6, 2012, at 4:11 PM

Traveling this wonderful land, there are so many unusual things to see! I hope this orange dragon is well and happy in his land at the southern-most point of our continent!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Feb 6, 2012, at 7:03 PM

Yeah, rick, who's cuter--Newt or the iguana??

I'm also wondering what an iguana that size would eat. Hopefully, not tourists! Still, I'm wondering if the park custodians feed it dogfood, or something of that sort. It would really have to hustle to find enough in that location, I would think.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 2:48 PM

Wow, I googled this! The iguana is NOT native to Florida! They're pets that have been released into the wild and pose a danger to native plants! They are strictly herbivores. They also climb trees, and they sometimes damage sea walls by burrowing holes.

Mmm, you never know!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 3:00 PM

I've heard the pythons are worse, killing native animal life! They are also pets released into the wild.

-- Posted by swift on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 4:14 PM

You're right, swift! When we were in Florida, the news was all about the four kinds of snakes which have just been banned for sale in the state. The pythons are at the top of the list.

Some pet owners have been VERY irresponsible by turning their snakes loose.

I wonder how much of a problem the iguanas are....mmm I wish I had called the conservation dep't while we were there.

-- Posted by Madeline1 on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 5:21 PM

By the way, a Newt is an amphibian, not a reptile. Newt acts like a reptilian chameleon, but he's a salamander! LOL

-- Posted by swift on Wed, Feb 8, 2012, at 4:38 PM

Haha! Clever play on words, Swift! I didn't think of that! I have newts that run all over my concrete retaining wall, sunning themselves in the summer.

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Feb 8, 2012, at 5:38 PM

Gl I don't think I've seen a newt in a long time!

That iguana looks a lot like a boss I one time had!

-- Posted by swift on Thu, Feb 9, 2012, at 3:41 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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