Leguaan pops into school for mas­ter­class

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO NEWS - Richard Springo­rum

TINY Tots Day­care and Playgroup pupils and staff were treated to a visit from a friendly rep­tile on Thurs­day, which re­sulted in a learn­ing op­por­tu­nity for the young­sters. A ve­hi­cle pass­ing by the school sit­u­ated in Cas­sia Road, Em­pan­geni, no­ticed a 1.2-me­tre leguaan mak­ing it’s way from the canal in the nearby green­belt to the school’s premises and im­me­di­ately no­ti­fied gar­dener Du­misani Mn­guni. Mn­guni sprung into ac­tion and called owner Bernie Perini to come and as­sess the sit­u­a­tion. ‘The leguaan was hid­ing deep in thorny plants, so I asked my son Tris­tan van der Spuy to help me catch it,’ said Perini. ‘I was con­cerned about the chil­dren’s safety, but also scared that some­one would kill or hurt it.’ Perini called the Em­pan­geni SPCA but they were on a call-out at the time, so ex­pe­ri­enced rep­tile catcher Fred Lubbe was ap­proached to as­sist. ‘Tris­tan man­aged to get the leguaan out of the bush by pulling it out by the tail, but it twisted very quickly and at­tempted to bite him. Tris­tan dropped it and it quickly scam­pered back into the bush.’ Lubbe ar­rived and swiftly caught the rep­tile and bound it be­fore plac­ing it into a bag. The learn­ers then had the op­por­tu­nity to rub it’s tail un­der su­per­vi­sion. ‘Peo­ple need to be aware that these crea­tures live in the green­belts and near rivers or canals and of­ten branch out in search of food and wa­ter,’ said Lubbe. ‘The im­por­tant thing to know is that these rep­tiles are ex­tremely strong and fast and have very sharp claws. ‘Once they bite you, their jaws lock and they do not let go.’ Ac­cord­ing to Lubbe, a leguaan feels threat­ened when ap­proached and it’s first line of de­fence is a tail whip or a bite. ‘If one spots a leguaan in the gar­den, one can throw a large blan­ket over it to calm it down or stay in­doors and mon­i­tor it’s move­ments un­til a pro­fes­sional with the right equip­ment ar­rives.’ ‘If it is in a park or green­belt, one can leave them alone un­less they be­come a nui­sance.’ For pro­fes­sional help call Fred Lubbe on 082 4417708 or 066 2433377, or the Em­pan­geni SPCA on 071 1744746. For any emer­gen­cies con­tact Deb­bie on 083 4823866.

Fred Lubbe con­tains the rep­tile be­fore plac­ing it into a bag

Richard Springo­rum

Tiny Tots learn­ers Lee-Che Cloete, Asi­bonge Hadebe, Leah Steenkamp and Ronin Hersel­man point out the spot where the leguaan was found on Thurs­day

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