110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Lynn Bowen
posted Jul 7, 2013 - 1:06:21pm
When I think of the word "dragons," visions of huge, ferocious, fictional animals come to mind. Did huge ones ever exist, or did Hollywood just make movies about them to entertain audiences?
In the real world, the bearded dragons are rather small, docile, odd-looking lizards from Australia that live in rocky deserts and dry open woodlands. Like other reptiles, they enjoy basking in the sun on warm rocks or branches. Although these scaly critters are usually tan, they can become dark to absorb heat.
They grow to be 16 to 24 inches in length, with broad, triangular heads, flattened bodies, and long tails. They weigh between 10 and 20 ounces, and the males are larger than the females.
Look closely at the photo accompanying this column, and you can see the odd beard. Under the chin are short, thin, hanging scales that resemble a beard — the male's is dark, and the female's is pale.
When a dragon feels threatened, he or she can flare out the throat, showing off the frightening beard to scare away a predator. It also bobs its head and flattens its body at the same time. It can change colors, but it never attacks. It is hoped that all this looks terrifying to enemies!
Bearded dragons are excellent climbers and good runners, who can race at 9 mph. They display a hand-waving gesture to show submission between dragons and have a head-bobbing act to show dominance.
Despite their appearance, bearded dragons make wonderful pets, according to several articles. They eat plants, rodents, insects, and fruit, and can live up to 10 years.
Seven kinds of dragons, all looking pretty much alike, live in Australia, but the one pictured here lives happily in captivity in Deltona!
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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