1. ITV Report

'Poor beardie' abandoned in cold and wet weather

The beardie was found inside a box on a street in Gosport Photo: RSPCA

An RSPCA officer has condemned the cruelty of whoever abandoned a lizard which was found in a box in Albert Street in Gosport.

The bearded dragon was found by a man who took in home and contacted the animal welfare authorities. It is now being cared for by RSPCA staff at an animal centre.

'Beardies', as they are affectionately named are among the top five types of reptiles that are being collected by the RSPCA or handed in to its centres.

“This poor beardie wouldn’t have survived long outside in the cold and wet weather we’ve been having recently.

“Beardies are reptiles who need specific temperatures to be able to function normally and, in captivity, rely entirely on their owners to provide these conditions, which must be the same as they live in in the wild.

“Abandoning any animal to fend for themselves is shocking but to dump those who require such specific conditions to survive is despicable.”

– Jenny Preston, RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO)

Anyone with information about the bearded dragon can contact ACO Preston via the inspector appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

A bearded dragon in a vivarium Credit: RSPCA website

The RSPCA says that the number of calls it receives about reptiles has doubled over a 10-year period. The organisation's officers are regularly being called to take charge of reptiles that have been dumped, or neglected such as corn snakes, terrapins, tortoises, leopard geckos and royal pythons. The organisation believes that is because owners either no longer want the animals or cannot care for them properly.

“Reptiles are widely being sold in pet shops and it is sadly often the case that they are handed over to buyers, who may be new to keeping that species, with little to no information about how to care for them, or the commitment that is involved in keeping them healthy. A lot people don’t realise that bearded dragons can live for up to 12 years in captivity, which is a long-term commitment for an owner.

“The needs of exotic pets can be challenging to meet in captivity because they are fundamentally linked to certain behaviours, diets or environmental conditions in the animal’s natural environment, that can be difficult to replicate in your home. These animals have not undergone years of domestication like cats or dogs, therefore they are essentially wild animals kept in captivity and their needs are the same as they would be in the wild.

“The RSPCA are urging potential owners to fully research the animal’s specific needs first before getting a pet, and make a decision about whether or not that particular animal is the right pet for them and their situation. Exotic pets can live a long time, grow to a large size and need to be taken to see an exotics vet if they become ill, which can be expensive.”

– Nicola White, RSPCA exotics senior scientific officer

There is more information about bearded dragons and caring for them on the RSPCA website.