The owners of an exotic pet store in Cardiff have condemned a mystery mailer who sent a live bearded dragon lizard in the post.
Staff at Reptile Cymru say the animal, a juvenile, is not expected to survive its ordeal, which was coupled with an apparent lack of care prior to being posted.
The reptile is thought to be no less than two months old, but was severely dehydrated. It is believed it was in a poor state before it was put in the parcel.
The package arrived at Reptile Cymru’s Canton base on Thursday, having been posted first class.
Whoever sent it paid £3.30 for postage, but did not leave a note alongside the animal.
The only clue as to its provenance is that it was sent from somewhere with a CF10 postcode – central Cardiff, Butetown or Cardiff Bay.
Not in good health
“It’s possible they thought they were doing a good thing, but it is actually illegal to send anything with a backbone,” explained Ben Bruckner, who runs the shop alongside wife Christy.
“And it doesn’t strike me as against common sense not to post it.”
The couple have run the Cowbridge Road East shop for eight years and say they have never experienced something similar before.
The bearded dragon, whose species is native to Australia, is not in good health.
Ben added: “Its body condition, on a scale of one to five, I would say is a one. It drank lots when it came in but it is severely emaciated and dehydrated.
“I don’t think it will make it as I think it is too young to be that skinny, but obviously we will try our best.
“Bearded dragons are popular – in some ways they are the dogs of the lizard world because they are quite numerous and tend to make good pets.
“But, like with any pets, you have got to look after it.”
‘We will give it support and care’
Ben said he couldn’t know what had prompted someone to post the reptile, but speculated: “I don’t think they were acting maliciously but I think they might have sent it because they didn’t want anyone to know the condition they let their dragon get into.
“If you are feeling overwhelmed there are other options than dumping your pet – or posting it.”
Ben added: “We will give it support and care and we will give it the best chance it can have.”
The animal is now with Valley Vets in Cardiff.
The RSPCA said bearded dragons were native to the hot scrublands of Australia, so required high temperatures to stay healthy.
A spokesman added: “To send a live reptile through the postal service is prohibited because of the risks to its health. Sending an animal this way will not meet its needs and could cause injury or death if the parcel is dropped or shaken.
“In addition, the reptile may become cold for a long period of time and this can be difficult to recover from, especially if it has existing health problems.
“The RSPCA is experiencing widespread neglect of exotic animals across England and Wales. For many people an exotic animal represents too much of a commitment which is manifested in the growing number of exotic animals being abandoned and handed to animal centres around the country.
“It is for this reason that we are urging potential owners to thoroughly research what is required in the care of the exotic pet before taking one on so they know what is involved and for how long it will live.”
Anyone who may have information about this incident should contact the RSPCA Inspectorate Appeal line on 0300 123 8018. Calls are treated in confidence.