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Yoda & Rex: Iguana & Savannah Monitor happy in Breeding, KY

The 'Weedeating-est man' in Adair County has extraordinary pets, a four-foot Green Iguana, and a Savannah Monitor lizard. And he wants to make herpetology his life's work.
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By Ed Waggener

Eric Thompson, who lives in the Breeding area of Adair County, has a dream of one day becoming a herpetologist. His hope is to one day go to Lindsey Wilson College to major in biology, and then transfer to the University of the Cumberlands and specialize in herpetology.

He loves reptiles, he says, and is keeping two of what are, for Adair County, extraordinary pets, a 4 ft long Green Iguana, and a smaller, stockier built Savannah Monitor Lizard.

The Iguana, named Yoda, is a herbivore, eating vegetable matter. Yoda has a free run in the house, and is caged only when taken outdoors. Yoda's diet is easy to provide. He's partial to Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Kale, and strawberries and blackberries for dessert.

The Savanna Monitor, Rex, (you need only one guess, Tyrannisaurus Rex) is more docile, but its a carnivore, and feeds on earthworms, meal worms, crickets and tree frogs.

Rex stays outdoors, in a dirt filled cattle trough he's personalized with tunnels. For him, it's an outdoor life almost all the time.

Both lizards require special attention to heat and light. When Yoda goes outside, he's in a cage. He thrives on the sunlight and open air.

Both lizards know their names, Scotty Thompson, Eric's mother, says. And both have lots of friends among the neighbors. Eric's cousin, Hailey Coffey, likes to come over to hold Yoda and pet him.

But on the other side, some neighbors, she calls no names, have a universal response, "Get that thing away from him." Junior Stotts is one of these.

The Thompsons all love the Eric's lizards. They've gotten used to the feel of the reptile's skin. "It's kind of rough," Scotty Thompson says, "but you quickly get used to it."

Yoda is very entertaining, she says. He gets really animated when a mirror is put in front of him, and the reflection is seen as a competitor. When he sees that other lizard, he starts bobbing his head and swinging his tail, the way all male iguanas do when they confront a rival.

But even in an agitated state, neither of these two lizards ever offer to bite. Past lizards have, Mrs. Thompson says, but not these to treasured pets.

Eric has thought of raising and selling iguanas. But for now, while he's waiting to get into college and become a herpetologist, he's a self-employed, hard worker doing mostly lawn work. He's built a solid reputation in his part of the county.

Friend Junior Stotts, who doesn't hand out unearned accolades, quickly vouches for him, "He's the weed-eating-est man I ever saw." It's a matter of both quantity of work and quality, Mr. Stotts said. "Eric can clean a greater area than any man I ever saw," and adds, "When he gets through with it it looks like a well-mown lawn."

So far, Eric's prowess with weedeater hasn't softened Junior on hugging an Iguana. He's still true to Lu, his Queensland Heeler wonder dog.

But he's wishing Eric the best with his dream of becoming a degreed herpetologist.

This story was posted on 2016-07-19 11:26:13
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Yoda the Iguana, in supervised outdoor play

2016-07-19 - Breeding, KY - Photo By Junior Stotts.
Eric Thompson's four-foot long Green Iguana, Yoda, holds tight to Scotty Thompson while outdoors. Yoda gets the run of the house, but being out of a cage when outside is unusual except when there are plenty of adults to supervise him.

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Meet Rex, Eric Thompson's Savannah Monitor lizard

2016-07-19 - Breeding, KY - Photo by Junior Stotts.
Hailey Coffey holds Rex, a Savannah Monitor Lizard, a pet belonging to Eric Thompson.

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