Bearded dragons dumped in cemetery fuel concerns about exotic pet trade

Bearded dragon Teddy who was abandoned in a west London cemetery

A leading pet charity is issuing renewed warnings against buying exotic pets, after two bearded dragons were found abandoned in a London cemetery. Just two weeks ago, Blue Cross vets also treated a pygmy hedgehog that had been dumped in a cardboard box.

The first reptile, nicknamed Teddy, was found wandering in Margravine Cemetery in west London and brought straight to the nearby Blue Cross animal hospital in Hammersmith. Vets were very worried about Teddy’s temperature as the mercury had dropped as low as 10 degrees Celsius the previous night. Bearded dragons, which originate from Australia, need a heated environment of over 35 degrees Celsius.

Sophie Bones, a veterinary nurse at the Blue Cross hospital in Hammersmith, said: “We gave Teddy a thorough check up and luckily, apart from being cold, she seemed fine. We gave her a bath in an inch of warm water then let her warm up on a heat pad and she’s much happier now. We can’t believe someone just left her to fend for herself – even though it’s summer, it isn’t warm enough for reptiles like this to survive outside.”

Just days later, a second bearded dragon – Elliot - was found in the cemetery and also brought to Blue Cross, by PC David Pullan of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Parks Police.

Elliot, a bearded dragon abandoned in Hammersmith, west London

PC Pullan said: “It was certainly a bit of a surprise to come across a bearded dragon in Hammersmith. She was hiding out by the compost heap, probably to keep warm. Even us big strapping policemen were a bit reluctant to handle her, but we managed to get her into a cat carrier with no trouble at all in the end!”

Bearded dragons are one of the most popular exotic pets in the UK and are readily available to buy online for around £50 to £100. They can live for up to 14 years and need specialist equipment to keep them healthy and happy, including heat lamps and UV lights for their tanks.

Steve Goody, Blue Cross Deputy Chief Executive, said: “We would never suggest buying exotic pets, as it can be difficult to meet their welfare needs in a home environment. Unfortunately, it is far too easy to buy bearded dragons and other reptiles online and many people do so without realising the amount of care and commitment they need.

“We would like the government to commit to a proper review of the regulations surrounding the breeding, sale and keeping of exotic pets.”

Teddy and Elliot are both being cared for by the Blue Cross veterinary team until they are fully recovered from their ordeal and will soon be going to a new home with an expert keeper.

Blue Cross advises always researching thoroughly before getting any pets, into their care needs and costs, lifespan and whether they will fit into your lifestyle. For more information on choosing the right pet, visit https://www.bluecross.org.uk.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Photos and video available, please contact the media office.
Sick, injured and homeless pets have relied on Blue Cross since 1897. Abandoned or unwanted, ill or injured, pets turn to us for help every year. Our doors are always open to them, and with your support, they always will be.
Each year, thousands of cats, dogs, small pets and horses turn to our animal hospitals, clinics and rehoming services for treatment and to find them the happy homes they deserve.
For more information, please visit www.bluecross.org.uk.

 
Media contact

Sophia Khan, Media Officer: 020 7932 4070/ [email protected].