Often found under his basking light or sleeping on his favorite branch, Diez the green iguana is one of many hidden treasures in the F.W. Olin Biological Sciences Building. Clay Higginbotham, Biological Laboratory and Facilities Manager, shared his insight and expertise on Diez and the other treasures of Olin.
Originally brought to DePauw for a study on thermoregulation in reptiles, Diez had a button thermometer attached to his skin, allowing researchers to monitor his temperatures over a period of time. After the experiment, the reptiles were placed in new homes, while Diez remained at DePauw.
According to Higginbotham, Diez was “tiny” when he arrived at DePauw, but the 17-year-old iguana has grown to about 6 feet in length. From building Diez’s closure to looking after him regularly, Higginbotham has looked after Diez from the start. Several students interested in caring for Diez have also assisted Higginbotham with tasks such as feeding and refilling his water bowl.
Higginbotham explained that visitors should keep several things in mind when touching and interacting with Diez. For instance, being surrounded by too many people at once has overwhelmed and agitated Diez at times. Higginbotham also cautioned visitors of his basking light, as touching the high temperatures can inflict burns. Furthermore, when petting Diez, it is recommended to avoid touching his claws, as they are sharp and designed to hold onto tree barks.
While Diez almost never makes the effort to approach people first, he grew to love attention from people nonetheless. Higginbotham compared Diez’s nature to a puppy—they share their love for attention and receiving scratches.
Students have also shared their love for Diez by creating an Instagram account for him. In addition to Diez, visitors may try to find Drax the camouflaging chameleon, Thumper the Greek tortoise, and more friendly faces throughout Olin.