There’s no such thing as a giant flying lizard that breathes fire, but the natural world has plenty of real dragons parading down streets, some that puff out their throats to create an imposing ruff of spiked scales.
The unique and handsome bearded dragon, fondly known as beardies, is a native of Australia. I shared a spot in
the sun with one recently to learn more about the magical creature. Don’t let the name fool you; this reptile is more lizard than dragon!
Davi: Do bearded dragons make good pets?
Didier: Bearded dragons are one of the most easy-going, well-behaved lizards you will ever find. We are among the easiest to leash-train, we love to snuggle, and will even allow our humans, on occasion, to dress us in fancy garb. That, along with our happy-go-lucky attitude, make us ideal pets.
What is your best feature?
One of my most attractive attributes is my appearance. Not to be vain, but bearded dragons have a distinctive look which is actually a rare vestige from the dinosaur era.
What activities are fun for you?
There’s nothing better than a swim on a hot summer day! It’s a great way to get a little exercise while hydrating! Or I take a stroll outside. I spend more time looking around than walking, but I still enjoy the excursion.
How do you scare away predators?
Whenever I feel threatened, I hold my chin up, close my mouth and flare out my beard. The flared beard is a natural defense mechanism to ward off enemies.
Tell me about the arm-waving.
This is generally a signal of submission. It’s our way of saying, ‘Hey, I’m friendly.’
Do you shed your skin?
It’s natural for a bearded dragon to shed its skin as it grows. And as tempting as it may be, humans should never, ever pull off our skin. Let nature do its work. Peeling back our skin before it’s ready hurts and can cause infection.
Do beardies need special attention or care?
Because we’re desert creatures, we don’t need much water or humidity. But we’re ectotherms, so we need both a reliable source of heat and a cooler areato stay comfy.
How do you regulate body temperature?
Think desert sun. We need light and heat to stay healthy. Without it, our bones become soft, our digestion slows and our mental well-being suffers.
Do bearded dragons have a language?
When interacting among ourselves, we resort to sign language, like head-bobbing, to show dominance, and arm-waving to show submission.
What do bearded dragons eat?
We’re omnivores, so we’re not too fussy about what we eat. We mostly eat vegetables—not very dragon-like, huh? Insects, like crickets and worms, are tasty, too, and provide essential nutrients.
It turns out that reptiles make great companions. Their blood may be cold, but they’ll win your heart. Before you decide to add one to the family, do some research, especially if you’re new to exotics. Each animal has particular care requirements and it’s best to choose one that fits your lifestyle.
Davi the dachshund never would’ve guessed that a cold-blooded creature could have such a warm heart.