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A Day in the Life of Odin, the Bearded Dragon

Jan 24 2012
by NEW Zoo Education Dept

Today is one of my favorite days of the week!  On most days, we bearded dragons get a tasty mix of greens, fruits, and veggies.  Every couple of days though, we get a special treat: insects!  Today, our keepers are giving us superworms.  Yummm!  “Superworm” is the common name for the larval stage of a large black beetle, so in other words, a superworm is a baby beetle!  We also occasionally get crickets and smaller mealworms, too.  These insects are an important part of our diet; they are loaded with protein!  Our keepers hand-feed us to make sure no uneaten insects are left in our enclosure.  Uneaten mealworms and crickets could burrow down into our bedding, and some insects can even chew on us and hurt us if left behind.  Yuck!

After having my fill of bugs, it’s time to relax and do some basking.  Loki, my companion bearded dragon, has claimed our hot rock as her basking spot, which is fine with me.  I prefer to get warm under our basking lamp, as it gives me a higher perch to keep an eye on my territory.  Being that Loki and I are reptiles, we are ectotherms.  You might have heard the term “cold-blooded” before, and that’s another word for ectotherm.  This means that we get all of our body heat from the surrounding environment, so it is important that we have warm temperatures in our enclosure. Our species is native to dry woodlands and desert ecosystems, so we like it warm! Having a hot basking spot helps us digest our food and regulate our body temperatures.

From my perch, I’m able to see outside a window near our exhibit.  I wonder what all that white stuff is on the ground outside… members of my species are from Australia, and we never get to see such a thing in our natural habitat. 

WAIT A MINUTE.  WHAT’S THAT!?  Another male bearded dragon?  What does he think he’s doing?!?  This is MY territory!  Time to get up on my stump and show him who is boss.  By darkening the color of my throat and puffing it out, I’m sending the signal to him that this is my space, and I’m nobody to mess with.  As I bob my head up and down, I see him doing the exact same thing!  The nerve of that guy!  Hold on… false alarm.  It’s just my reflection in the glass. 

Around 10:00am, I see one of our interns walk in.  He’s a pretty cool guy; his name is Adam.  On some days, he takes me out of my exhibit so I can meet visitors of the Zoo.  Today, he has set up a table with some interesting artifacts on it.  I see a shed snake skin, a frog skeleton, and even a Galapagos tortoise skull!  As visitors come in, they are interested in the artifacts and ask lots of great questions.  Obviously though, everyone is most interested in me.  It’s not every day that you get to meet and touch a real dragon!  As visitors gently stroke my back, Adam explains that my spines aren’t actually that sharp; they are mostly there to make me look tough.  I cock my head back and give him a glare.  That may be true, but I don’t want the secret out!  After a couple hours, it’s time to go back to the exhibit, and Adam brings me home.

THE OTHER MALE IS BACK!  This guy doesn’t quit!  After some more throat-puffing and head-bobbing, Loki gives me a funny look.  Turns out it’s just my reflection again.   

As the sun goes down outside, another day at the NEW Zoo winds down.  We bearded dragons are diurnal animals, meaning we are only active during the day.  As the lights go off in the Aurelia Barth building, Loki and I find a good resting spot and go to sleep for the night.  What a good ending to a very good day!

Odin enjoys perching on branches to get close to the warm basking light.

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