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September 29, 2023

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Claws will leave his mark on University students and faculty

Nearing his fourth and final year at the University, Claws, as he is called by his friends, does not have a major. Though he is always found hanging out near the editing suites in West Hall, he does not seem too interested in anything beyond climbing trees and watching students go about their day.

Though Claws is only five years old, he is already five and a half feet from head to tail and he is also an iguana.

Claws’ owner Jim Barnes, a broadcast engineer for the School of Communication Studies, said the reptile will be leaving the University because he is too big for his current tank and there is no room for a larger one to be built.

‘I’ve kept him this long because the students just love him,’ he said. ‘They like to watch the fish and look at Claws, but now he has outgrown [his tank] and it is time for him to find a larger home.’

Barnes said the biology department, specifically the herpetology lab and Dr. Eileen Underwood, are helping to find him a new home. A new home that might be with the director of the Toledo Zoo, Barnes said.

‘He is part of the family here, we really hate to see him go, but it is necessary,’ he said.

Claws became a part of the family nearly four years ago, Barnes said.

He brought Claws to the University after finding out a neighbor was planning to get rid of him.

‘I used to have a little ten gallon aquarium for fish and the students really liked the fish, but if you’ve worked in this building, you know the temperature changes here are very erratic, from one extreme to another, and the fish kept dying in the 10 gallon aquarium,’ Barnes said. ‘So I decided I was going to put in a larger aquarium, a 55 gallon at least, and as I was doing that my next door neighbors said they were going to get rid of their iguana.’

His neighbor was getting rid of the iguana because Claws would attempt to climb their 5-year-old son and would unintentionally claw him, which is how he got his name, Barnes said.

Each day, including on the weekends, Barnes comes in early to change out Claws’ water and food. The reptile has to be fed greens as iguanas are herbivores. A student might not think that by looking at him though, as he has sharp talons and a seemingly spiked spine.

Barnes said he thinks Claws resembles a dinosaur. He also said many students are often surprised when they first see him.

Barnes said he hears screams at the beginning of each semester as new students first notice him.

‘Usually at the beginning of each semester, I wait for the screams, but then that’s it, then they think it is just the greatest thing and they check on him regularly,’ he said.

Senior Travis Montgomery, who frequently uses the editing suites, said he was not expecting an iguana the first time he turned the corner.

‘Maybe a fish tank, but you definitely don’t expect to see an iguana,’ he said.

Montgomery said he enjoys seeing Claws whenever he is in the area.

‘It is just nice to walk by and see how he is doing, and see how much he is spitting on the cage that day,’ he said.

Montgomery also said he will be sad to see Claws go.

‘It is for the best I think, if he needs to get a better cage then they need to do that,’ he said. ‘They obviously can’t upgrade again, there is no room there.’

Freshman Leah Hendricks said she has not seen Claws but that she wants to see him before he leaves.

‘Absolutely,’ she said. ‘Five and a half feet, that is taller than me.’

Barnes hopes to find Claws a new home by Christmas. He said students should come see Claws before he goes.

‘If they want to see an iguana, a green iguana, up close then this is the place,’ he said.’

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