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Dragon found in Cowichan Valley

<p>This Bearded Dragon lizard was found on a logging road in the Cowichan Valley. (Submitted)</p> -

This Bearded Dragon lizard was found on a logging road in the Cowichan Valley. (Submitted)

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What do you say to a bearded dragon?

Conservation officer Sgt. Scott Norris received a call Monday from someone at a Cowichan Valley logging contractor, saying they'd found a bearded dragon lizard on a logging road.

Driving along a logging road, "he realized there was a bearded dragon on the side of the road there sunning itself. He stopped, and phoned us. He was able to pick it up, it was pretty tame.

"So, I went out and met him and picked it up from him. It appears as through it's an unwanted pet that someone has abandoned," Norris said Wednesday afternoon.

He's tried to find out who might own it, if it's lost, but so far without success.

"I reached out to the SPCA and they've heard nothing. I also reached out to a veterinarian in Maple Ridge who does a lot of our animal rescue stuff when it comes to alien or non-native species. He's got quite a speciality in that stuff. He sent out word to reptile networks he's got yesterday to find out if anybody's heard of a bearded dragon missing in the Duncan area. No one's heard back to him as of today."

Bearded dragon lizards are an exotic species valued in the pet trade and are not native to British Columbia.

"It appears that it's likely an unwanted pet that someone's dumped off, which would be a really sad thing for someone to do. Ultimately that creature would suffer and die if it hadn't been picked up fairly soon," Norris said.

"He happened to be baking in the open sun and getting warm when they found him but, once the weather starts turning and getting cooler, he's not going to survive because those guys are a desert species that need warm dry conditions. He would have died for sure. That's one aspect of this," Norris said, adding, "The other aspect is you should never really introduce non-native species out into the wild."

The as-yet-unnamed lizard is probably a foot and a half long, and has been staying with Norris and his family.

"At this point right now, we're hoping to find a good home for him. I'm getting cornered into keeping him myself but if we can find a good loving home, that's what we'd hope for.

"He's very active. He's very friendly. He likes human contact. Even the logging contractor said that when he got out of his truck, he came running over to him. He's used to people.

"My son picks him up and he right away came to my son and crawled up onto my son's shoulder. He's a friendly little guy. I've got him for now. We're taking care of him as best we can. But, that's where we're at. It's a really unfortunate situation but thankfully he was found, and seems to be in good shape, and we can find a good home for him."

Norris also wants to know how the lizard got there.

"At the end of the day, we'd like to hear if someone knows who dumped it off in the bush. They can stay anonymous if they want to. We'd like to follow up with those [owners] because there are obviously better ways of getting rid of unwanted pets rather than dumping them in the forest," he said.

Contact the Conservation Officer Service toll free RAPP line at 1 877-952-7277 if you have information on the person who released this animal, or know if it was unintentionally lost.

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