We live in a zoo. And it is not just the wildebeest kids, either. Currently, in our tiny, two story bungalow, we have: two cats, a turtle, about 30 fish that keep multiplying, my pond specimens for work, three rats (we’re down from eight rescues), corner web-dwelling spiders, and a variety of dust bunnies — all living happily with the six of us. We also dog sit from time to time. So, I was a little hesitant when the oldest son wanted a bearded dragon for his birthday. That is a rather stout lizard, in case you were unaware. Now, don’t get me wrong… I love my creatures! I worked for a veterinarian clinic for three decades and have always loved animals. I was that little girl who rescued the newly hatched classroom ducklings and brought them to live in our bathtub for the weekend. I had an ant farm in my bedroom drawer. I studied zoology for four years. I do pets. Alas, one more creature in the household meant more work and more time. Not to mention that this particular child often quickly becomes enamored with an idea and promptly changes it to move on to a different life goal. Magic tricks, guitar lessons, Lego masterpieces, the giant Ninja Warrior obstacle course… perhaps he’s a little like his mom and dives into projects. Continuous learning is an amicable trait, right? So I waited for a bit, hoping he may “grow out of” the idea of another pet. He did not.
Thus, “Indy” has arrived. “Indy”, short for “Indiana Jones” , the legendary archaeologist played by Harrison Ford of the great 80’s films… Temple of Doom and all that. My house was becoming the Temple of Doom according to grandma, auntie and a few cautious friends who are now reluctant to visit. Normally, I am the one who is all “whohoo” for new pets… and I don’t have a problem with reptiles… I have had lizards and snakes before… but for some reason, this little guy freaks me out a bit. Maybe I am getting old. Maybe it is the way it cocks it’s head slightly left and stares at me with it’s beady little eye as though it is trying to figure out what I am. It seems to be listening to my very thoughts. No wonder they call them dragons. Maybe it is because it is still a “juvenile” and small enough to quickly skitter across the floor versus saunter casually like the laid back lizard I envisioned. My limited knowledge of bearded dragons (“Beardies” as they are affectionately called by enthusiasts), tells me that they are easy to care for, bond well with their owners and “hang out” with you. They also eat crickets. Live crickets. More creatures to keep viable. *Sigh* It is pretty though… kinda spiky with a hint of orange throughout it’s grey-flecked, scaly, skin. It’s belly is surprisingly soft and cuddly. “Indy” is learning to “hang out” with it’s owner… until it randomly jumps away… adding to my anguish that it will be devoured by a cat.
Assuming it does not get eaten, “Indy” will be with us for the next 10-14 years or so, so I guess I better get used to the sound of crickets and it’s beady little eye-stare. It’s a slow process, but I am “adjusting”. The Australian native is kinda cool to watch — snapping up it’s prey in toothless gulps and munching down greens. Bearded dragons are omnivores… which means they eat both meat and plants. So at least my leftover salad is getting used. It’s also pretty neat the way it buries itself to keep cool in the sand under a log after basking in the heat lamp in that weird yoga pose it mastered. As time passes, “Indy” and I are establishing an acceptable living relationship. Have you ever had a relationship with one of those people who you are not quite sure of? Maybe someone who creeps you out a bit? Or stares at you with a beady-eye and cocks their head slightly left and you just know they are thinking evil thoughts about you? Or maybe they really have turned your home into the Temple of Doom, and have hurt you deeply or someone you love. Life is hard, my friends, and loving our “dragons” is even harder.
I was recently teaching a Sunday school class about the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. The familiar passage is all about relationships. Hard relationships. It’s not easy to mend trust and forgive our enemies. It’s not easy to mourn a lost loved one. It’s not easy to make peace when you live among those who randomly jump at you when all you want to do is “hang out” and bond. Verse 45 tells us that “… He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” We all live under the same heat lamp, my friends. We have to learn to get along. Do we have to be best friends and share leafy greens? No. Dragons are very happy to be left alone sometimes. We are called to live peaceably and to forgive. To share our space and make some room on our log so that each of us can bask in the light a little. To cool off in the sand and “hang out” again when the time comes. Perhaps I could learn a little from our new pet. Now if only I didn’t have to feed the accursed crickets!
Want to learn more about keeping Bearded Dragons as pets? Check out our Pinterest page for lots more references. We are not experts yet, so encourage you to seek out the professionals on this adventure!