What do you do when you find a dragon on the road?
Driving to the Isle of Sheppey in Kent passed the fabulously named Bedlams Bottom I spied something on a bend in the road by the river . At first I thought it was a suicidal rabbit and then a piece of cardboard but..no… it was a bearded dragon. Seriously far from home, sunning himself of the tarmac and about to meet oblivion under the wheels of a car.
A reptile native to Australia should not be wandering around Bedlams Bottom. What could I do? What would you do? We turned round and went back for him. He probably wasn’t feeling too perky having presumably been abandoned some days earlier by some heartless fiend who had got bored with him or possibly squeamish about feeding him live crickets. Maybe because he wasn’t feeling too well he proved surprisingly easy to catch and stuff into a boot bag where he thrashed around a bit before emerging to eye me suspiciously I guess thinking…’Now what?’ Now What indeed?
Surreptitiously I just happened to have a garden full of fish tanks, having had five given to me by a friend a few days earlier. I had been thinking what on earth am I going to do with all these fish tanks…I don’t keep fish, but now I knew. We sat around looking at him while he sat on a log in a tank and looked at us. My Lithuanian housemate came home and sat there looking at him too.
“We should keep him,” she said.
“That’s all very well Erika,” I told her, “But he eats live food. Live crickets.”
“No,” she said in amazement. “Has no one told him it is 2014!”
Maybe someone had, as a few days later, now in a larger tank with 5 crickets he appeared to be showing no interest in them. Despite Erika and I carrying the tank around the garden to ensure he got the maximum amount of sunlight. Despite daily hot baths and massage, he was showing no interest. If anything the crickets appeared to be eating him.
“Maybe he’s vegetarian,” Erika surmised.
If he was he was also showing no interest in the delicacies placed in front of him, dandelion leaves, cucumber, pepper, even the first strawberries from my plants, elicited no response.
I knew I had to make a decision. Bite the bullet and buy him some proper lighting or give him away. I was for the latter. I phoned friends, friends of friends, a rescue centre but no one wanted a dragon that week.
“We keep him,” Erika says. “We should name him.”
What do you do when you find a dragon in the road? Well, if you’re me, you give in to the suspicious but slightly lovable eye, the comical grimace, the pleas of your housemate and you spend £100 on lights, you apologise to the crickets but fling them in anyway and you name him… Moses, found down by the river among the rushes and rescued by a slightly crazy princess!