The RSPCA is investigating after a bearded dragon was abandoned in a bag in Hampshire on Sunday night.
The animal welfare charity was called in the following morning (Monday 13 February) after a man discovered the lizard abandoned in Albert Street, Gosport.
RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) Jenny Preston collected the lizard which had been confined in a box and taken home by the man.
“This poor beardie wouldn’t have survived long outside in the cold and wet weather we’ve been having recently,” ACO Preston said.
“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.”
ACO Preston would like to hear from anyone who might know where the bearded dragon came from to get in touch with the inspector appeal line on 0300 123 8018. The beardie is now being cared for by RSPCA staff at an animal centre.
Bearded dragons are one of the top five species of reptiles that are being collected by RSPCA inspectors or handed in to our centres. Other reptiles we receive the most calls about include corn snakes, terrapins, tortoises, leopard geckos and royal pythons.
RSPCA exotics senior scientific officer, Nicola White, said: “The number of calls the RSPCA received about reptiles rose 104% over a 10-year period and sadly we are regularly being called to collect reptiles, like this bearded dragon, that have been dumped like rubbish, or neglected, presumably because owners no longer want them 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.”
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).