Bearded Dragons, Just Like Any Other Pet
● By Billy Pilgrim
For the Love of Beardies
Story by Billy Pilgrim
WE WERE ON THE AIR, talking about our pets and how much we loved them and eliciting listener response. I suppose I was going on and on about our bearded dragons a little too long, when a listener asked, “what on earth could be emotionally satisfying about having bearded dragons as pets?” I had to think about that for a moment, and realized these personable reptiles were just like any other pets. You fall in love with them, and they give a bit of devotional attention back to you.
Jumpin’ Joe and Fancy Dancer came to me courtesy of our children, who had so much interest when they were the tiniest of dragon babies, but as is so often the case, their fascination started to wane when they realized they weren’t toys, but needed a lot of care and yes, affection.
Bearded dragons come from a group of lizard species known as the Pogona. The beard refers to the underside of their throat, the beard, which can puff up and turn black when the lizard is stressed or threatened. I have seen it more than a few times and it is fascinating but it is not a daily occurrence. My dragons are generally pretty mellow, unless they see some activity in the yard beyond their enclosures (we separate them, because although they came to us as tiny babies and grew up together, they tend to fight with one another when they get older). When they see something outside that excites them, they will bob their heads up and down very rapidly and pound up and down on the glass. That behavior is known as “glass surfing”. Oh yes! These beardies can be very expressive, I’ll never forget the first time I saw our fancy dancer wave at me! She actually looked straight at me and waved- not unlike the gecko in the Geico commercial. I waved back. (Actually, the wave indicates they are in a submissive state.) It is the most amazing thing to see. I thought I was dreaming.
These beardies absolutely know when I walk in the room. They must have incredible eyesight because they can see me from a long way off. And they know when it’s time for their meal. They will stare me down until I bring them superworms, greens, strawberries and their summer favorite – watermelon.
Beardies are affectionate, gregarious, and pretty fearless around people and other animals. There is some great video on YouTube of bearded dragons playing tug of war with dogs. Check out the corgi/bearded dragon videos on YouTube for some fascinating entertainment.
Beardies like to be handled, and mine will rest on my chest, nuzzle in my hair and sleep under my chin. When we had the blizzard last winter and we were without power for their heat lamps, I put them inside my jacket and kept them warm with body heat. It was pretty touch and go, and I was worried sick about them, but with a group effort from my family, they made it (and so did we).
Ten to 13 years is the average life span, and they grow up to 2 feet in length. I was never much of a reptile person, and for some of us it’s an acquired taste. Now I can’t imagine being without them. If you get interested, the folks at Petco, Pet Smart and Redding Reptiles will tell you all you need to know to get you started. Emotionally satisfying. Companion animals. Lots of love. •