From far away, the tank just looked like a discarded box.
Until someone got closer, and realized it was actually a little animal’s home.
Last week, in St Albans, England, a Good Samaritan driving through a parking lot noticed a glass tank sitting on a patch of grass near the exit. The tank was so filthy — and a live bearded dragon was still inside.
The RSPCA responded right away to help the reptile, who had been abandoned with no food or water. It wasn’t clear how long he had been there, but luckily he was still healthy.
Nicola White, an exotics officer with the RSPCA, said that abandonments like this one happen all the time — especially to reptiles.
“The number of calls the RSPCA received about reptiles rose 20 percent over the past five years and sadly we are regularly being called to collect reptiles, like this poor bearded dragon, that have been abandoned, or neglected, presumably because owners no longer want them or cannot care for them properly,” White said in a statement.
Despite commonly being labeled as a “starter pet,” bearded dragons require an expertise and commitment to take care of. They can live 12 years or more, and often grow larger than 20 inches long as adults.
In addition to particular temperature and humidity requirements, a bearded dragon also needs a wide array of live insects, fruits and vegetables on a daily basis to stay healthy.
“They are commonly found for sale in pet shops and online,” White said. “However, it is sadly often the case that they are handed over to buyers with very little or no information about how to care for them properly, or the commitment that is involved in keeping them healthy.”
Fortunately, it wasn’t too late for this little lizard. He’s currently recovering from the stressful ordeal with a reptile specialist and will be available for adoption soon.
The dragon was lucky to be found — but things could have ended up much worse for him if he hadn’t.
“Reptiles are completely reliant on their owners to meet their welfare needs, which include the need to be provided with the correct levels of heat, light and humidity, plus an appropriate diet for the particular species,” White said. “If you do find yourself in a situation where you can no longer look after your pet, there are options available.”