Working at a pet store can be a dangerous profession for someone who is in the rescue business.  That is how Elvis made his way to the ranch.  Elvis was a water dragon, a tropical reptile that can grow up to 1 metre long and weigh about 1 kg.  Elvis and 2 others were brought in by a local pet store and kept in a small aquarium.  The other two were purchased but Elvis had a problem.  He was living in a tank that was so small that when he swung his head around, he hit his nose against the side of the glass.  He did this so often that the area became infected and he developed mouth rot.  Some of the tissue around his nose and mouth rotted away.  His health continued to deteriorate because he was not given the humid, spacious conditions that he needed.  Fauna was tasked with his care, administering antibiotics daily.  Via this care, the reptile and caregiver began to bond.

Being damaged, Elvis had little chance at being purchased so he was bought as a rescue and taken to the ranch.  A very large terrarium was constructed so that he could swim and climb.  He became a member of the family, being allowed, at times, to wander the living room on his own.  As he grew, he became more secure and would happily sit on someone’s shoulder and survey his world.  During the spring and summer, he was fitted with a special harness and allowed to spend time outside. Can you imagine taking a lizard for a walk?  Elvis was part of the family until he passed away of old age.

Exotic animals are best kept in their natural habitat because it is very difficult to replicate nourishing conditions at home.  Elvis would have been much happier in his native environment.

Article by Liz-Anne Eyford and was first published in the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.