dragon not a lizard

Not sure if i ever posted this, but i found him again and i doubt i’ll have time to finish him.

Alolan exeggutor! The basic thought behind him was that the main body was an adult and the extra ‘heads’ were actually the young exeggcute before they drop off to form a cluster of their own. the ones around the main head are known to bicker with the parent body, whereas the tail dwelling ones are quite content and friendly. Basically a living dinosaur too, with the leaves being akin to camouflage feathers as they feed on things in the canopy of Alola.

They then drop off and begin their life as a cluster, their skin going pink before they go off to reach maturity.

boop!

Joan Beauchamp Procter: her best friend was a Komodo dragon and if that doesn’t entice you to read this, I don’t know what will

Joan Beauchamp Procter is a scientist every reptile enthusiast should admire.

Joan was an incredibly intelligent young woman who was chronically ill (and as a result of her chronic illness, physically disabled by her early thirties). Her health issues kept her from going to college, but that did not stop her from studying and keeping reptiles. She presented her first paper to the Zoological Society of London at the tender age of nineteen, and the society was so impressed that they hired her to help design their aquarium. In 1923, despite having no formal secondary education and despite being only 26 years old, she was hired as the London Zoo’s curator of reptiles. Now, that in and of itself is an awesome accomplishment, but Joan was absolutely not content to maintain the status quo. Nosiree, by the age of 26 Joan had already kept many exotic pets (including a crocodile!) and knew a thing or two about what needed to be done to improve their lives in captivity. So Joan got together with an architect, Edward Guy Dawber, and designed the world’s first building designed solely for the keeping of reptiles. She had some really, really great ideas. Her first big idea was to make the building differentially heated- different areas and enclosures would have different heat zones, instead of having the whole building heated to one warm temperature. She also set up aquarium lighting- the gallery itself was dark, with dim lights on individual enclosures to make things less stressful for the inhabitants. She also insisted on the use of special glass that didn’t filter out UVB. This meant that reptiles could synthesize vitamin D and prevented cases of MBD in her charges. 

But advances in enclosure design weren’t Joan’s only contribution to reptile keeping. She was also one of the first herpetologists to study albinism in snakes- she was the first to publish an identification how albinism manifests in reptile eyes differently than in mammal eyes, and stressed the importance of making accurate color plates of reptiles during life because study specimens often lose pigmentation. She also was really hands-on with many species, including crocodiles, large constrictors, and monitor lizards. Joan had this idea that if you socialize an animal and get it used to handling, then when you need to give it a vet checkup, things tend to go a lot better. This really hadn’t been done with reptiles before. She was able to identify many unstudied diseases, thanks to her patient handling of live specimens, and by being patient and going slow, she managed to get a lot of very large, dangerous creatures to trust her. One of them (that we know of) even came to like her- a Komodo dragon named Sumbawa. 

In 1928, two of the first Komodo dragons to be imported to Europe arrived at the London Zoo. One of them, named Sumbawa, came in with a nasty mouth infection. His first several months at the zoo were a steady stream of antibiotics and gentle care, and by the time he’d recovered enough for display, he had come to be tolerant of handling and human interaction. In particular, he seemed to be genuinely fond of Joan. She was their primary caretaker and wrote many of the first popular accounts of Komodo dragon behavior in captivity. While recognizing their lethal capacity, she also wrote about how smart they are and how inquisitive they could be. In her account published in The Wonders of Animal Life, she said that "they could no doubt kill one if they wished, or give a terrible bite" but also that they were “as tame as dogs and even seem to show affection.” To demonstrate this, she would take Sumbawa around on a leash and let zoo visitors interact with him. She would also hand-feed Sumbawa- pigeons and chickens were noted to be favorite food, as were eggs. 

Joan died in 1931 at the age of 34. By that time she was Doctor Procter, as the University of Chicago had awarded her an honorary doctorate. Until her death, she still remained active with the Zoological Society of London- and she was still in charge of her beloved reptiles. Towards the end of her life, Joan needed a wheelchair. But that didn’t stop her from hanging out with her giant lizard friend. Sumbawa would walk out in front of the wheelchair or beside it, still on leash- she’d steer him by touching his tail. At her death, she was one of the best-known and respected herpetologists in the world, and her innovative techniques helped shape the future of reptile care. 

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BEARDED DRAGON COMES WHEN CALLED !!! *NOT CLICKBAIT*

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When you think of abandoned/stray animals, animals being released on the end of dirt roads to fend for themselves, what do you imagine? $5 says you’re picturing a dog or cat. And that’s very likely the answer! However, there is a significant problem with people releasing small pets, exotics, livestock, and fish as well. 

Pictured here is Samuel, a beardie we had surrendered a number of years ago. What made Samuel’s case unique is that he was found trucking down the middle of a rural road. The person who caught him thought he was a native lizard and brought him in to my workplace asking for advice on how to keep him as a pet because they’d never seen such a cool lizard before. Once reptile care was explained to them, they didn’t want him, but at least learned he shouldn’t be set back loose, so we took him in (and he has since been adopted). 

I have similarly taken in released or escaped (thought we ALWAYS check lost/found when we take in a stray anything, and none of these had anyone looking) iguanas, non-native turtles and tortoises, rabbits, pigs, parakeets, chickens, and more. Heck, if I had the means, I’d have come home with an abandoned horse tied to a post on a rural road. 

Releasing dogs and cats is bad enough. They’re domesticated species and often succumb to disease, predation, injury, starvation, etc., though in some cases do establish feral populations that are injurious to wildlife. Releasing exotics tends to have one of two outcomes: a swift death or, given appropriate climate conditions and multiple individuals, the establishment of invasive populations that threaten native wildlife. Florida is obviously the textbook example, but populations of non-native animals released intentionally or accidentally by individuals or industries are present in virtually every state and indeed most countries. 

So what do you do if you can’t keep your fish, or rabbit, or iguana? Well, for one, never release it into the wild. Many people romanticize “the wild” as a wonderful taste of freedom after a life of captivity even if they acknowledge that the animal will likely not survive. In reality, “the wild” tends to be a terrifying experience for captive bred or domesticated animals, and their end often comes after tremendous suffering. Even if your animal is well suited for the environment it’s being released into, doing so is almost definitely illegal and potentially harmful to native wildlife. 

Instead, try to seek either a) a qualified new home or b) a rescue organization. There are rescues for virtually every animal under the sun, and for every person who doesn’t want x species, there’s someone else desperate to own one. You should always vet both new homes and rescues to make sure you are surrendering the animal responsibly; a basic verbal interview or questionnaire should make clear if the home or rescue is qualified. And honestly, if you can’t find anything and need to surrender your pet to animal control? They still have a better shot, and if they do wind up being euthanized, it is certainly a favorable death to starvation, disease, predators, exposure, etc.

Remember: whenever you obtain an animal, you are entering an unspoken contract to be responsible for that animal’s wellbeing, from start to finish, be that finish with you or someone else. You break that contract when you leave an animal’s fate to chance by releasing it. 

FUN TRIVIA FACT

Other than the plated scales, tough leathery skin, frilled head, horned skull anatomy and sinuous tail, mythological and folkloric dragons have very little in common anatomically with actual reptiles. They have MORE in common with the Felidae genus (cat family) and the Aves Phylum Chordata (bird classification).

Like a cat’s eye, a dragon’s eye has a comparatively large iris with a vertical pupil. This arrangement allows the pupil to open extremely wide and receive
more light than that of a human eye.

A dragon’s legs are also decidedly nonreptilian, despite the scaly coverings. A dragon’s legs are positioned more or less directly under its body, in the manner of mammals. (Most reptiles’ legs tend to splay out to the sides, offering
much less support and mobility than a mammal).

Lasly, a dragon’s four feet very closely resemble those of a great bird. Each foot has three or four clawed toes facing forward (the number varies, even among dragons of the same kind), plus an additional toe, also with a claw, set farther back on the foot and facing slightly inward toward the dragon’s body, like a human’s thumb.


A dragon’s resemblance to a reptile is literally only skin deep  So the next time someone you know refers to mythical dragons as giant lizards, you’ll have the know-what to save a life.