Monday, September 10, 2012

Reptilian Charm.......

Inland Bearded Dragon

(Pogona vitticeps)

Bearded Dragon
The inland bearded dragon has a certain reptilian charm, so much so, in fact, that it is becoming an increasingly popular pet. According to owners, the lizard -- often affectionately called a "beardie" -- has a distinctive personality. Much like a dog or cat, they say, it recognizes its owner. It knows its name. It begs for treats.

Some Interesting Facts:
  • The beardie can lock its legs so that it can sleep while standing up.
  • It often loses front teeth when grasping and tearing prey, but the teeth grow back quickly.
  • If distressed or aggressive, the inland bearded dragon can quickly change its normally soft and rubbery scales into prickly spines.
  • Inland bearded dragons establish a social hierarchy, with the dominant male assuming a premier basking spot as if it were a throne. 
  • Senses: The inland bearded dragon has acute vision, with full color, but poor depth perception. It also has a photosensitive organ, or third "eye," on the top of its head, which can sense light and shadows. It has ears -- holes on the side of its head -- that provide excellent hearing. On the roof of its mouth, it has a Jacobsen's Organ, which provides for keen smell and taste. Lying against the ground, it has a sense of touch that can feel vibrations transmitted through the soil.
  •  Communication:   The inland bearded dragon communicates, not only by bobbing its head, but also, for instance, by waving its forelegs, changing its color and inflating its beard. It may vocalize with a soft hiss, when threatened.
    Young males and the females often raise a foreleg and wave, indicating subservience to a larger, dominant inland bearded dragon or perhaps signaling recognition of another of the species. The female may wave to a potential mate during the mating season to signal her availability.

    Threatened by an aggressive male or by a potential predator, the inland bearded dragon summons a host of responses. It may bob its head vigorously, flatten its body, change its color, flare its throat and beard, open its pink mouth, and hiss.
    If it comes to combat, said the Woodland Park Zoo, "two inland bearded dragons will circle one another, mouths open, hissing and trying to bite the other's tail..."

    In the face of a possible predatory attack, said Loyal D. Rue, By the Grace of Guile: The Role of Deception in Natural History and Human Affairs, the bearded lizard changes its color from "olive brown to bright yellow-orange..." It puffs up its head to "double its normal size." Of course, "Threatening displays of this sort are mere bluff, but they very often defeat the designs of predators by making them think twice about attacking."

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