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Personal Space

Lounge lizard

  • Photo by Bruce Elliott

At 11 years old and 6 feet long, with a multi-hued complexion depending on his mood, Jake is one of the more curious office dwellers in southern Colorado.

"He's very social," real estate broker Jody Heffner says of the green iguana who lives in his office in rural Peyton, east of Colorado Springs. Jake is a great "ice breaker" with clients, Heffner says, but "he's kind of short on his answers."

Fed an exclusively organic vegetarian diet, Jake lives large in his caged habitat. He curls his tongue around beans, mangoes and strawberries and, when Heffner gives him a vapor bath, turns bright green and nods his head with pleasure.

But watch out.

"When he's upset, he'll turn vibrant red," Heffner says, adding that with a quick flick of his muscled tail, "he could break your ankle with little effort."

Green iguanas are native to Central and Southern American rainforests and change color based on body temperature. Iguanas typically live around 13 years, but some in captivity live more than 20 years, according to wildlife experts.

They also make great pets, Heffner says.

Keith Clendaniel (pictured), who owns the Mountain Vista Ranch wildlife park in Peyton, often comes to the real estate office to perch Jake on his shoulders and take him for a walk.

"He runs around my body," Clendaniel says. "He's a pretty cool dude."

-- Dan Wilcock

Photo by Bruce Elliott

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