Grave concern over exotic pet trade after bearded dragons dumped in cemetery
Two bearded dragons are now in safe hands after being found abandoned in a graveyard.
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.
Our 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 Blue Cross Veterinary Nurse, 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 wandering among the graves of the same cemetery and also brought to Blue Cross, by PC David Pullan of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Parks Police.
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 Blue Cross vets and nurses until they are fully recovered from their ordeal and will soon be going to a new home with an expert keeper.