Tuesday, 4 June 2013

living with a lizard

The title of this post is a little odd but today I am going to tell you all about our pets.  Both Daniel and I grew up in houses with pets.  We would love a dog of our own but we are renting so it's not something we can really do until we have our own house.

In 2011 we decided to look into getting a lizard.  I took a little convincing at first but we did our research and got help and advice from a couple of friends who have a house full of snakes and lizards.  After careful consideration we decided to get a bearded dragon.

We got our baby beardie from Leaping Lizards in York, along with a full set-up for him.  They were very helpful and gave us loads of advice.  Dan named him Ron (after the legend Ron Burgundy, he's a huge Anchorman fan).  He looked so tiny when we brought him home and placed him in the vivarium, but they grow very quickly and have huge appetites.

Bearded dragons make fantastic pets.  They all have their own personalities and are very sociable.  They are pretty laid back and easy to handle.  Their little behaviour quirks also make them fascinating to watch.  We would often find Ron sat in some very interesting and uncomfortable looking positions.  When he was shedding he would inflate himself like a balloon.  They also do this weird thing where the push their eyeballs out which is really quite worrying the first time you see them do it!  He loved our company and would come up to the glass and scratch at the door to be let out to have a run about.

When Ron was almost a year old he got very sick.  One morning he just wouldn't move or open his eyes.  Luckily we were able to find a specialist herpetology vet who was just up the road from us, Johanna at Internation Zoo Veterinary Centre who was fantastic.  He was tested and treated for parasites, something that is quite common in reptiles and we took him back for regular check ups.

Unfortunately after the initial treatment his health got worse.  He refused to eat anything, was very lethargic and began to loose weight.  We took him back to Johanna who gave us vitamin shots and a food supplement but he still showed no signs of improvement.

Sadly we had to make the heartbreaking decision to have Ron put to sleep.  I would never want to have to make that decision again but it was the best thing to do.  Afterwards Johanna told us that there was very little else that could have been done.  She said his liver had failed, something that most likely developed when he was small.

We have talked about the possibilty of getting another bearded dragon in the future.  But we have said that we would rescue one next time.  So many people buy them when they are babies and either don't realise how big they grow or what is invoved in keeping them, so they just get rid of them.

Since then we have gotten Attenborough, a crested gecko, from our friends.  Crested geckos are so very different from bearded dragons.  Much smaller, faster, can lick their own eyeballs and they are nocturnal so he's out and about when we are home in the evening.

There are so many different types lizards and reptiles out there and there is something suitable for everyone, from the beginner to the more experienced keeper.  A lot of people are a bit squeamish about lizards but everyone who met Ron who was little unsure was instantly won over.  Next time you are in the pet shop have a look at the reptile section and see if you're not won over by the baby beardies waving at you.

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