Latex and Other Allergies (Bill’s Iguana)


I fondly remember the cook at the airport in Newark who when I told him that his latex gloves meant I couldn’t eat the food and I was starving, “I’ll take off these gloves, sterilize my hands, and make you the best hamburger you ever had.” He did!

It is now easier to find food and clothing for those with a latex allergy . . .  I’ve put information online to help others.

When I developed an allergy to aloe, I put the aloe plant out on the porch, with orders to find a new home before winter. I heard the roofer telling his son, “We used to have an aloe almost that big, but it wouldn’t fit in the moving truck.” Match made!

I confess that I did cry when my first allergist proclaimed, “That is a a 4+ reaction on a scale of 1-4.  You MUST get rrrrid of the cat!”  I did find a good home for the stray mama cat and her no-longer-fragile baby, leaving them better off than when I found the poor skinny mom-to-be.

Allergies did not stop me from playing hostess to my tree frog houseguest Prince for a winter,


. . . and my friend Bill’s clever parents discovered he could have iguanas as pets.  This is my early version of that story, written but not previously published. I tell a slightly different version, along with Prince’s story,  on my Frog and Friends CD.

No Feathers or Fur: Bill’s Iguana     by Mary Garrett

     “Mom, I want a pet.”  Billy brushed his hair from his eyes and waited for an answer.

     “Billy, you know you can’t have a pet.”

     “But all my friends have pets,” Billy said.

     “I know,” said his mother, “but you’re allergic to fur and feathers.”

     “I don’t care.  I want a pet of my own.”

     Mother sat down and put Billy on her lap. “If you had a pet, the fur or feathers would make you sneeze, and pretty soon you wouldn’t be able to breathe.  You could end up having to go to the hospital.  You don’t want that, do you?”

     “No, but I do want a pet,” said Billy.  “Isn’t there any pet that doesn’t have fur or feathers?”

     “Hmm, I wonder,” said Mother.  “I guess we could find out.  Let’s start at the pet store.”

     In the window of the pet store was a brown puppy, with long floppy ears

and a little black nose.  He was chewing on a red rubber bone and looking right at Billy.

     “Not him,” said Billy’s mom.  “He has fur.”

     “Yeah,” said Billy, not very happy, because he really wanted the frisky puppy.

     Right inside the door of the pet store was a little grey kitten.  It stretched its paw through the wire front of the cage, batted Billy’s finger, and said, “Meow.”

     Billy said, “I know.  It has fur.”

     He frowned and walked further into the store.  Billy sneezed as he walked past the bright, noisy birds and said to himself, “Feathers!  Everything has fur or feathers.”

     He stopped in front of a sign that said, “Garter Snake” and looked at the striped snake lying on a big stick.  It wasn’t doing anything interesting, but at least it didn’t have fur or feathers.

     “Please, Billy, no snakes,” said Mother.  “I know I wouldn’t be able to sleep with a snake in the house.  Besides, they eat the most disgusting things.  Let’s keep looking.”

     The fish were pretty, swimming in circles and waving their tails, but Billy said, “I’d really like a pet I could pet, Mom.”

     Then he saw something different.  It looked like a big lizard, and it was bright green.  Its bright black and yellow eyes looked right at Billy.  Then it took a bite of banana and swished its long tail in the air.

     “What’s this, Mom?”  Billy asked.  “It doesn’t have feathers or fur, and it eats fruit.”

     “It’s an iguana,” said Mom.  “I never knew anyone with a pet iguana.”

     “I like it,” said Billy.  “Can I pet it?”

     The owner of the pet store got the iguana out of its cage and held it down for Billy to touch.  Its back felt smooth, and a little cold.

     The man explained, “Iguanas are cold-blooded.  Their temperature is only as warm as the room they are in, so they like warm places.  They come from South America and the West Indies and are very good climbers.  Iguanas are pretty easy to take care of, but you might want to read this book to learn more about them.”

     Billy said, “Please, Mom.  I really like him.”

     Billy’s mom said, “If you’re sure you’ll take care of him.”

     “Of course I will,” said Billy.  “I’ll name him Iggie.  He’s going to be my best friend.”

     When they got home, they put Iggie in a box in Billy’s room, with some fresh lettuce, bananas, and grapes and a bowl of water because the book said they liked fruits and vegetables.  The book also said that iguanas were very gentle and didn’t need to be in a cage unless there were other pets like dogs or cats that might hurt the iguana.  Iggie ate, stretched and then climbed out of the box and went exploring in the little bedroom.

     “Hey, Mom,” yelled Billy.  “Look at Iggie climb.”

     Iggie was on top of the dresser, looking all around.  Billy picked him up and scratched the top of his head.  Iggie sat on Billy’s arm, stretching out to enjoy the warmth.

     “Mom, he likes me,” said Billy.  “I have a pet.”

     As time went by, Iggie explored the whole house and made friends with the whole family.  He learned to go to his dˇish in the kitchen when he was hungry.  When they fed him, Iggie would even eat from their hands.  Iggie liked to sleep on the radiators, because they were warm.  Billy’s mom put old bath towels on the radiators to make them more comfortable.  Sometimes Iggie would sleep on the top shelves of the closets, where it was dark and quiet.

     Iggie liked company, and sometimes he would jump right on a person’s shoulder to let them know how friendly he was.  He did that once while Billy’s parents were having a party for their friends.  Billy laughed when the lady jumped up and spilled her soda.  Then he apologized for Iggie and helped to clean up the mess.  She laughed, too, and petted Iggie.  She said he seemed like a good pet to have.

     That summer, Billy’s family went on vacation.  They left food and water out for Iggie, and asked a neighbor to stop in to check on things while they were gone, but Billy was still a little worried about his pet.  After all, he had never been left alone for even a day, and ˝they would be gone

two weeks.  Billy’s mom said he would be fine, and that iguanas didn’t like to take trips.

     While Billy’s family was gone, some robbers broke the lock on the back door.  They took the television, the radios, and the stereo.  They took the toaster and blender from the kitchen.  They even took Billy’s piggy bank from the book shelf.

      One of the men went into Billy’s parents’ bedroom and put all their jewelry into a pillowcase.  Then he walked over to the closet to see what else he could steal.  Iggie, who had been very lonely, jumped down from the closet shelf and landed on the burglar’s shoulder.  The man was so frightened that he dropped the jewelry and ran!

     When Billy and his parents came home the next morning, they could tell that the lock on the back door was broken, and they could see that the kitchen was messed up.  Billy’s dad said not to go in, because a thief could still be inside.  They all went to the neighbor’s house and called the police.

     When the police arrived and told them it was safe to go in, they started trying to list everything that was gone.  When they got to the bedroom, they saw the jewelry spilling out of the pillowcase on the floor.

     The police officer said, “This is the strangest thing I have ever seen.  It just doesn’t make sense to take everything else and leave the jewelry.”

     Just then they heard a rustling sound, and the officer felt cold claws grab his shoulder.  He jumped and dropped his notebook and pen on the floor.   Billy reac\hed over and took Iggie off the officer’s shoulder, saying, “I’m sorry if Iggie scared you.  He loves to jump on people, but he wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

     “No problem,” said the officer, picking up his notebook and looking for his pen.

     “Hey,” Billy shouted, “maybe that’s what happened with the burglar!”

     “That could be it,” said the policeman.  “Your average burglar wouldn’t expect to be jumped by a lizard.  He probably dropped everything and took off without even looking back.”

     “Iggie, you’re a hero,” said Billy.

     “Yeah,” said the policeman, “the only watch iguana in town.”

Critters At My House

Story Musings

Critters At My House      OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have tried to create a healthy environment with eco-friendly materials and no-VOC paints, Better World cleaning products, and no bug sprays.  Sometimes that means I have to tolerate the occasional spider or ant, and even an odd migration of tiny little mites across the window sill, but the rewards . . . .

Lighting bugs (fireflies) abound! Right now there’s a storm making it so dark that the fireflies are lighting up!  There was an interesting beetle last summer, perhaps a stag beetle, that looked a bit like a scarab.  A turtle visited the front walk,

Turtles and other critters welcome!

and a lovely Luna moth, so otherworldly, perched on my deck door.


I have seen rabbits, woodchucks, raccoons, fox . . . but not the deer, only deer prints in the snow (they must be shy).

** March 2014 — I have since seen the deer a few times.  They seem to know they are safe here.  I’ve just discovered they like holly bushes.  Good thing the “bunny in the bush” isn’t sleeping in the holly bush this winter.


Prince, my resident tree frog, was quite entertaining when he spent the winter.  His cousins or offspring have been appearing in the mailbox, on the deck, and on the windows, and their songs at night are so wonderful that I sometimes turn off TV and stereo, the better to hear them.

Mailbox Frog

There will be plenty more frogs, too, judging by the quantity of little bitty frogs Kathy’s grandchildren found in her garden (and turned loose).


 Sunday, June 27, 2010