A bearded dragon found dumped on a street in Bedfordshire had to be put to sleep after suffering from rickets.
The reptile was found on a pavement in Queen Elizabeth Close in Shefford on Wednesday 19 June unable to walk.
RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) Kate Wright was called to collect the young bearded dragon and took him to a specialist vet.
It was then discovered that he was suffering from metabolic bone disease, also known as rickets, which is caused by a calcium deficiency as a result of being fed a poor diet or kept in an inadequate environment. Metabolic bone disease causes bones to soften and can lead to skeletal deformities and fractures.
Sadly the disease was so advanced that it could not be treated and vets had to put the bearded dragon to sleep.
ACO Wright said: “This bearded dragon hadn’t even reached adulthood. We think he was probably dumped because of the disease and must have been left where he was found as he could not walk. He was also underweight.
“All the signs point to his owner failing to provide him with the right sort of care. He should have been given the right diet and should have been kept in a vivarium with the right temperature and UVB light to enable him to produce his own vitamin D which is necessary for reptiles to absorb calcium.
“This animal would not have suffered and died if he had been cared for properly and this sad incident shows just how important it is for owners to think very carefully before taking on a reptile as a pet – they must do their research and remember that these animals need specialist care throughout their lives.”
Anyone with information about who owned the bearded dragon should contact the RSPCA inspectorate appeal line in confidence on 0300 123 8018.
More information on looking after pets like bearded dragons please visit: http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/pets/other
If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message