Friday, August 3, 2012

Dragon in the House

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Dragon in the House

Just when you think life can’t get any more interesting, something new comes along. This time it’s a lizard, a Pogona vitticeps, to be exact, otherwise known as a Bearded Dragon. The Australian native is normally a terrestrial, desert-dwelling lizard, but he also makes a wonderful pet.

Recently our two pet rodents, Squeakers and Lilly, departed this world, so we wanted to replace them. While having that conversation, we decided that it would be a good time to add to our species at the center.

We had many ideas, but acquiring a bearded dragon seemed to be the best prospect. We had the aquarium, a window that needed changing, and the knowledge about how to take care of the new animal.

One trip to the pet store, and he was ours. Our new pet is three years old and is accustomed to being held. We also got two young female rats which had been slated to be dinner for the snakes at the pet store. Saving them from that awful fate was an added benefit for us.

Bearded dragons are probably one of the few reptiles that can be tolerant of being handled by humans, which was a requirement for us because we wanted to be able to use it in some of our programs. Our new pet is three years old and is already accustomed to being held.

We are having a naming contest for the dragon, and visitors can vote for the names Angus, Edmund, Burnie, Heath, or Bruno which are all common Australian names. The name with most money in the jar will be the winner.

Both male and female lizards from “down under” have an expandable throat pouch with spiky scales that look like a beard when they are inflated for mating and aggression displays. Their body color depends on the soil in the region where they reside. Ours is a gold and light orange combination.

Our “beardie” is about a foot long and likes to spend long hours stretched out sunning himself in the window. He is furnished with his favorite foods, crickets and veggies from our garden.

Australia has not allowed the export of any native wildlife since the 1960s, so our pet was probably born in this country. Their pleasant disposition and manageable size make bearded dragons popular pets. In the wild, their enemies are primarily snakes and kookaburras.

We plan to design a habitat for him in the front window where he can be seen by people walking by and where he can also enjoy basking in the sunlight. Already people are enjoying watching him from the sidewalk.

The jars are filling up with votes and the favorite name appears to be Bernie so far, but things might change as time goes by. Personally, my choice would have been Dundee (Crocodile Dundee).

Come in soon to meet our new friends and vote for a name you like.

What do you think our bearded dragon's name should be? -- Cast your vote in the unofficial poll -- HERE
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...