Buba the bearded dragon going for a walk in the backyard. Photo: Mal FaircloughBuba the bearded dragon may be cold-blooded but that doesn’t make him cold-hearted, say his owners, Melbourne sisters Allie and Caroline.
“He’s just so beautiful, and will snuggle up into your neck,” said Caroline, who with her sister bought Buba seven years ago because they wanted “something different”.
Buba is among a growing menagerie of exotic animals, or “pocket pets”, being acquired by Melburnians, who have microchipped 11,315 pets other than dogs or cats, including 3695 horses, 1380 rabbits, 277 reptiles, 205 ferrets, 12 pigs, four sheep and a fish in Malvern East, according to data obtained by Fairfax Media.
Dr Doug Black, of the Unusual Pets and Avian Veterinarians group, said the growing demand for exotic animals had forced veterinarians to expand their skills. “Today, there are vets giving lectures in exotic bird medicine, whereas in the early days most vets would get lectures only on poultry production, and nothing in the way of treating rabbits, reptiles and so on,” he said.
Dr Black said people became quite attached to their strange pets, particularly reptiles. “Some people also get really attached to fish, which is amazing. I’ve even performed surgery on a goldfish.”
Hope Boyle, a reptile enthusiast and nurse at an Essendon veterinary clinic, said microchipping exotic pets such as bearded dragons was inexpensive and could help owners retrieve missing animals. “Reptiles are escape artists,” she said.
Without microchips, reptiles had proven harder to identify than cats or dogs, she said. There had been cases of escaped snakes being taken to animal shelters and being claimed by more than one person.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.