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Henry Lizardlover

Suzan Filipek
Edition: 9/2/2003

With his headset on and a miniature guitar in his clasp, Hasbro is ready to pose.

The iguana will sit perched like this for up to half an hour, while a photographer snaps away.

No drugs, hypnosis or tricks prod Hasbro into a state of repose.

Only a combination of trust and an innate ability to sit still are needed. In the wild lizards are perched on branches for hours, says Henry Lizardlover.

He changed his name 20 years ago to reflect his affection for the reptilian world. Besides, he added in his N. Lucerne Blvd. home, "Henry Lizardlover is a lot more fun than Henry Schiff."

Henry publishes a line of cards showing Hasbro and his other pets in a variety of human poses, from eating spaghetti to locked in an embrace, lounging next to babies or the best-selling rock-and-roll shot.

"When people see these pictures, it breaks the ice," says Henry, who has been featured in magazines worldwide and on television, from Animal Planet, "Now with Tom Brokaw" to Spanish Univision's version of "Ripley's Believe it or Not."

"I also have the most famous drivers' license in the world. It has been shown in every tabloid on the market," he says showing his license with his name Henry Lizardlover Seven (he uses the Seven for his business dealings) written next to his smiling face.

After owning hundreds of pet lizards through the years, he's become an expert on the subject, and authored the "Iguana Owners' Manual," after he couldn't find a book written in an unscientific but playful and helpful style.

Tropical creatures—native to Central and South American—iguanas need plenty of water and a diet of mostly green leafy vegetables. He recommends a Southern greens blend from Trader Joe's made of collard and mustard greens and spinach. Vegetarians, they're also fond of pizza, winks Henry.

His rapport with lizards was instantaneous, he says, and is intuitive, but he's also learned "by living with lizards they have human-like traits.

"They have humanity in them...a perfect inner calm and trust like you see in people," he says as he reaches for Prince Charming, a 12-year-old iguana asleep on a top shelf in his bedroom closet.

Seven-year-old Lovable, a monkey tail skink, hangs out near the dresser, but most of his 32 lizards inhabit a room in the back of the house. The windows are open, letting in plenty of direct sunlight—not filtered through a window or an aquarium—so they get enough calcium and vitamin D. Otherwise their bones become soft and bent, he said.

During visits to Larchmont Village with his 20-pound lizard, the reptile will get complimented for his "exotic and" majestic nature. In turn, he bobs and shakes his head to charm his admirers and just show off, Henry explains.

Sometimes he takes several of them for a drive. When he parks and opens the car door, they scurry out to sun themselves. When they've had enough, they crawl back in. "When you see a big iguana get back in a car, it really makes you realize they do have intelligence....they behave very much like a cat and dog."

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