The bearded dragon gets its name from the fact that it is covered by spiny reptilian scales for protection. It also has a collection of spikes under its chin. These are used for defense and tend to resemble a beard.
The bearded dragon is characterized by its gentle yet inquisitive nature and general activeness during the day. In nature, they exist naturally in a large part of Australia as they are better adapted to climates that are warm and arid.
They thus tend to survive best in the Savannah, woodlands, deserts, and scablands. Their survival instinct is to burrow under the ground to avoid predators. They are also semi-arboreal and can be found on branches as well as fence posts.
Where are Bearded Dragons Illegal?
The bearded dragon is native to Australia. It is legal to own in most parts of the world and widely accepted as a pet by many. In the same manner, it is illegal to own, buy, or sell a bearded dragon in Hawaii.
This is a state that has legislation controlling the breeding, buying, and selling of the bearded dragon. The laws are put in place to ensure that bearded dragons can’t be bought from or transported to the mainland.
These laws also come with an amnesty clause. Under this clause, anyone with a bearded dragon on the island can safely deliver it to the authorities without fear of persecution.
This applies to animals acquired either legally or illegally. The penalty for anyone caught going against this legislation is a fine of up to $200,000 or the equivalent of up to three years in prison (source).
Internationally, Singapore is one of the countries that have steric laws against the keeping of bearded dragons. This is in an effort to prevent them from being imported into the country or bred and sold locally.
Why Are Bearded Dragons Illegal?
The most important thing for any ecosystem is balance. This is what ensures that one species does not overpower the rest. It keeps a species from growing unchecked and overpopulating. The result of which is usually the depletion of resources, extinction of another species, and the eventual collapse of the ecosystem.
As a result, every species has a catalyst to growth in the form of food as well as an inhibitor to overpopulation in the form of predators. The predators feed on the species, keeping its population at a sustainable minimum.
The bearded dragon also has to contend with predators in the form of birds of prey, goannas, and dingoes. These three groups of animals feed on the bearded dragons, ensuring that their population does not reach unreasonable numbers.
In Australia, these predators are present and thriving. Thus, the population of the bearded dragon is controlled. However, in other places like Hawaii and Singapore, these predators cannot survive.
This means that should the bearded dragons be released into the wild, they would grow unchecked. This would result in their overpopulation, eventually wiping out other native species. The bearded dragons feed on small birds as well as their eggs.
If left unchecked, their growing population would eventually put the entire ecological population of the island in jeopardy. The balance between prey and food would be upset and the food would end up on the verge of extinction.
Aside from this, bearded dragons live for 7-15 years and require constant care during their lifetime. They need a large enough enclosure to move around, climb, and burrow. Temperature control is also necessary due to their cold-blooded nature.
They require a complex diet as well as the knowledge of how and when it needs to be administered. This means as a pet, they are quite demanding to keep. This is why some places prohibit their keeping as they believe most people cannot adequately care for them.
Do You Need a Permit to Keep Bearded Dragons?
In the United States, in many states except Hawaii, one is required to source a license to keep a bearded dragon as a pet. These license laws are put in place to ensure that the origin of the pets is known.
It also serves as a way to ensure the bearded dragons are sold by licensed vendors. Such vendors have the know-how to take proper care of them and give them the right vaccinations.
The legal age for one to get such a license is 16 years. Anyone below this age needs the authority of a parent/guardian to get the license.
There are however states where you can own them even without a license and these include:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
In these states, exotic animal exploitation laws apply to mitigate cruelty, abuse, or exploitation of the bearded dragon.
Can You Travel with Your Pet in States Where it is Illegal?
It is not advisable to travel with your pet in states where it is illegal to own or breed them. This is because the customs authorities.
If you are traveling via road, or other means of travel that allow you to cross state lines without an inspection, it is up to you to leave the pet in a state where it is legally owned. If you conceal it, then this is equivalent to trafficking, an offence that leaves you liable to legal persecution.
To be on the safe side of the legal divide, it is better to not travel with your pet to any destination where it is considered illegal. If you’re not sure, then it is advisable to check on the state’s Department of Agriculture regulations concerning that particular animal.
The bearded dragon is a good pet to have in most parts of the world. In some states, this is however not the case. You will be required to have the proper documentation and may be subject to inspections.
It is thus advisable to always contact the local authority and do proper research before owning one. For those looking to travel out of state, it is a good practice to always check on the legality of transporting your pet prior to travel.