Dragon dies after being dumped in Shefford

The bearded dragon found in Shefford

The bearded dragon found in Shefford - Credit: Archant

ANIMAL protection officers are appealing for information after a reptile was found dumped on a street.

The bearded dragon was found on a pavement in Queen Elizabeth Close in Shefford and was suffering with a bone disease, so had to be put to sleep.

RSPCA animal collection officer Kate Wright was called to collect the young reptile, which was unable to walk, and took him to a specialist vet.

It was then discovered that he was suffering from metabolic bone disease, also known as rickets, which is caused by a calcium deficiency as a result of being fed a poor diet or being kept in an inadequate environment.

The disease was so advanced that it could not be treated and the vet had to put the bearded dragon to sleep.

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Ms Wright said: “This bearded dragon hadn’t even reached adulthood. We think he was probably dumped because of the disease and must have been left where he was found as he could not walk. He was also underweight.

“All the signs point to his owner failing to provide him with the right sort of care. He should have been given the right diet and should have been kept in a vivarium with the right temperature and UVB light to enable him to produce his own vitamin D, which is necessary for reptiles to absorb calcium.

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“This animal would not have suffered and died if he had been cared for properly and this sad incident shows just how important it is for owners to think very carefully before taking on a reptile as a pet. They must do their research and remember that these animals need specialist care throughout their lives.”

Bearded dragons are native to Australia and New Guinea. There has been an export ban of the lizard from Australia since the 1960s. They can grow to about 24 inches (61 cms) to a weight of about 600 grams (just over one pound in weight) and live for about nine years in captivity. Metabolic bone disease causes bones to soften and can lead to skeletal deformities and fractures. Anyone with information about who owned the bearded dragon, which was found on June 19, can call the RSPCA inspectorate appeal line in confidence on 0300 123 8018.

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