"Dear Shit Fer Brains ...."

Your Letters: Crap-Eating Iguana Confusion and Boats to Nome

Have a question, comment, correction, argument, or something else you want to say to Greenfriar? Send email to editor@greenfriar.com, and we will answer it here.

I’ve started reading Greenfriar on account of my friend and Joshua Tree neighbor Chris Clarke (the Best Writer On The Internet), and I saw your piece about hatchling iguanas eating mom’s poop. Allow me to clear up a couple of misconceptions.

First, as much as I enjoyed seeing mention of Stan Fox—a mentor of mine when I taught at Oklahoma State in the 90s—the iguana in your kid’s classromm was almost certainly a green iguana, and poop-eating in baby green iguanas has been known since a 1984 paper by Karen Troyer.

What green igs and Stan’s Liolaemus (a very distant relative) have in common is that, unusually for lizards, they both eat plants. The benefit to young lizards in eating mom’s poop is not nutrients (think about it … it’s already been digested and the good stuff extracted) nor microbes that boost the immune system (not sure where that idea cane from … colostrum?), but rather it’s how they obtain the bacteria and other microbes—the so-called ‘gut flora’—that allow them to digest and obtain energy from the cellulose in plant fiber.

Keep up the otherwise good work!
Charlie Peterson

Dear Charlie,

Thanks for the information! I was hoping somebody would make better sense of my kids’ foul story than I could. They couldn’t even remember what zoo had done the program. Children are essentially unreliable.

And thanks for checking out the site! Chris Clarke will be a regular. In fact, Chris Clarke probably just forgot to send his new column, which is probably already done.

—Your Editor


1) By air & then boat. Fly to Anchorage, fly to Nom,e then charter a local boat to get you over there.

2) By boat. Ride the Alaska Marine Highway outta Bellingham, WA, to Kodiak, False Pass or Dutch Harbor. Get off and find a gold dredge boat going to Nome that’ll take you with ’em for the rest of the trip.

* “Low Fares, Destinations, May Spur Spring, Summer Travel For Alaskans.

* Alaska Marine Highway System.

I’m in Sand Point and you are invited to come visit us trapped in the middle of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.


This is the greatest adventure itinerary I’ve ever heard: “Ride the Alaska Marine Highway outta Bellingham, WA, to Kodiak, False Pass, or Dutch Harbor. Get off and find a gold dredge boat going to Nome that’ll take you with ’em for the rest of the trip.” What could make that better? Fights on the wing of a bush plane in flight? Stampeding caribou?

Of course the finding of a gold dredge is involved. And it will have a captainlike in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and then I pay the man in something pirate-like, maybe bitcoin? And then the gold dredge lets me off at Nome. The rest will work itself out. There may not be a rest of the voyage, because after the accident it might just be better to stay put in Nome, open a honky tonk, kind of an Al Swearengen type of joint, and then when it’s safe, next summer, head up to the Bering Strait. See some muskox and wolves. Talk to people about the feral cattle and reindeer problems. Maybe get a gold dredge of my own someday.

This is the best invitation ever, and I hope to accept it someday.

—Your Editor

Mailbox photo by Gajman.


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