Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Free Range Bearded Dragon

An aspect of my life that people seem to find fascinating is our bearded dragon, Buddy. Buddy is a free range lizard. He lives a cage free life. No one in my house is an expert animal trainer, though. Buddy earned this right completely of his own accord.

Several years ago, I was approached by my neighbor. He was a young man in his mid-twenties. He explained that he had noticed that our family seemed to be animal lovers and wondered if we would be willing to take in two bearded dragons, complete with tons of supplies and large tanks. It seemed he and his wife were expecting their first child, and needed to turn the spare room into a nursery. We happily adopted both dragons.

Neither was very accustomed to being held or interacting with people, but they weren't aggressive, either. We quickly introduced them to the joys of family life. They were running around the house, and riding our shoulders around town in no time! After a couple years, I was offered a job as a travel writer. The whole family decided to join me in traveling around the country, while I wrote about different locations. We moved into an RV and hit the road. The only problem was that I couldn't find a home for our dragons. We decided to bring them along, just until we found them homes.

Our other dragon was named Black Beard. Black Beard had poor instincts. On cold nights, he would borrow in behind the walls and furniture to sleep. He might as well have been outside. We kept a close eye on him, and sent him to the first adoptive family we found. Buddy was another story entirely, though. On cold nights, he would climb into bed with a member of the family. He would crawl under the covers with us, and curl up against our necks or armpits. He didn't seem to mind at all when we rolled over on him. He even deduced that tapping on the door (like he used to on his cage) would prompt us to throw a leash on him and put him outside. Perhaps he noticed the cat was relieving herself outside, or perhaps he just developed the habit at random, but he began asking outside to go to the bathroom regularly. We decided he was cut out for the traveling lifestyle and didn't rehome him.

Well, now we live in a house again. When we landed, he still asked out when he needed to go. He's recently even started using the cats' litter box. The whole family agrees that an entire house is a much healthier amount of running room than a traditional vivarium. Buddy hasn't had a tank for about 2.5 years now, almost 2 years of which have been in a house. He is very happy and social, and I'll titillate you with stories of his adventures in future entries.