Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Love Lucy

The Bearded Dragon is quickly becoming a household name and a popular pet.  They have a unique way of attracting you to them

Bearded dragons are native to Australia and will vary in species depending where they are found on the continent.  There are eight different species of bearded dragons. 
 Lucy, WBS's Bearded Dragon may be seen any day in our Nature Center
The Drysdale River Bearded Dragon, Pogona microlepidota, is a small lizard that is found in the northwestern area along the Drysdale River basin. 

The Coastal Bearded Dragon, P. barbata, is the largest of all beardies at two feet in length.  These are found along the eastern and southeastern coasts. 

The Lawson’s Dragon, P. henrylawsoni, is found on sandy flatlands and hillsides of Queensland and the edges of the Northern Territory.  Mitchell’s Bearded Dragon, P. mitchelli, can be found in the central and western areas. 

The Western Bearded Dragon, P. minima, is found in the far west and southwest of Australia.

The Dwarf Bearded Dragon, P. minor, is found in the interior western area to the western coasts. 

The Banded Bearded Dragon, P. nullarbor, is commonly called the Nullarbor Plains Dragon.  It is only found in the Nullarbor Plains region which is in the far south area of the continent. 

The last type of breaded dragon is the Inland Bearded Dragon, P. vitticeps, found only in the inland of the Outback.  This “beardie” also happens to be the most popular one in the pet trade today and the species I will discuss here.

At the World Bird Sanctuary, we have an adorable Bearded Dragon named Lucy.  She is an Inland Bearded Dragon and was hatched in captivity.  Lucy is at least four years old now.  I love her personality and behavior.  She will look up at you with her red/gold eyes and make you wonder what she is pondering at the moment.  Her seemingly quizzical expression often leads her human observers to think that she may be wondering how lucky she is to have come to a place that cares for other animals like her….or…., more likely, she is fixated on that fly in the distance and is waiting for it to get just a little closer. 

When I give her a bath, she at first will just stand very still.  Then after I have been sprinkling water over her back she will begin to move around and even drink some up.  Each day she is given a type of green lettuce (green leaf, red leaf, collard greens, romaine, or turnip greens), bearded dragon pellets, and bugs (on certain days of the week).  Her favorite bugs are crickets, but she will also eat super worms (a larger form of a mealworm), too. 

In the wild a small beardie’s diet will consist of leaves, fruits, seeds, and insects. Larger beardies will eat other small lizards, mice, small snakes, and small birds as well.  As with all reptiles, beardies are cold blooded, which means that their body temperature is the same as the temperature around them.  They need to receive heat from a different source, like the sun or heat lamp in captivity.  In the wild, a Bearded Dragon’s lifespan ranges from 3 to 6 years.  In captivity they can live up to 10 to 12 years with proper care.  If you have a Bearded Dragon, then you know they are intelligent and can become excited to see you after a length of time apart.  Bearded dragons are so docile and intriguing to interact with, but as with any animal be sure to do your research before acquiring one as a pet, since reptiles have a number of special needs in captivity.   

Lucy is available for adoption in our Adopt a “Bird” program (yes, we adopt almost all the animals we have at WBS!).  To find out more information, call 636-861-3225.  All adoption donations are tax deductible.  Lucy can be seen at the Nature Center at the World Bird Sanctuary which is open daily from 8am-5pm.  Lucy is a very interesting reptile and delightful, too.  Be sure to stop by and visit her! 

Submitted by Lisbeth Hodges, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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