Iguana invasion: Ship stowaway leads to international plea deal for Colombian infiltrator

When most folks want to see the Museum for free, they come on our free day (Thursdays from 2 to 5 p.m)

But one of our latest visitors did it differently: He stowed away on a cargo vessel amongst a shipment of tools — all the way from Colombia!

Our new Cockrell Butterfly Center resident, Chico

Chico — the ingenious little iguana — was discovered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and spared prosecution in favor of coming to live with us here at HMNS.

Our new Cockrell Butterfly Center resident, Chico
At just 20.5 inches and estimated to be a year old, Chico is the youngest little lizard we’ve adopted. Our other iguana, Charro (who you probably recognize from the Cockrell Butterfly Center and his many Instagram fans), came to live with us when he was around 7 years and old and just about as large as he is now.

Our new Cockrell Butterfly Center resident, Chico

Charro is 14 years old and has a broken tail, whereas Chico’s in-tact tail is so long that there is actually more tail than lizard!

Chico is too young to yet determine whether he is, in fact, a chico or a chica, so we hedged our bets and gave him (her?) some name flexibility. For now, Chico will be hanging out behind-the-scenes with Butterfly Center staff as he grows big and strong enough to go on display.  As we’ve learned from Iguanas for Dummies (for real), it’s important to give young iguanas lots of “hands-on” experience so they will be people-friendly when they are larger.

We’d love to see Chico become a reincarnation of Sidney, one of our former pet iguanas, who may well have been part-dog. He so loved to be petted that he would occasionally climb into people’s laps!

Our new Cockrell Butterfly Center resident, Chico, receives a pet from Director Nancy GreigIguana know more? Be sure to check back on the Beyond Bones blog periodically as we update you on Chico’s progress!