CreatureFeature: Godzilla the Bearded Dragon

When most people hear the name Godzilla, they think of the large lizard in the movies that caused mayhem in the city streets of Tokyo. However, the Keepers associate that name with our Bearded Dragon. Although he may not crush cars with his feet, he’s still a pretty big lizard. In fact, he is the largest Bearded Dragon we’ve ever had, and that is how he got his name.

Godzilla is about 4 years old and was donated to the museum in June of 2006. He became an education animal because he has a good temperament and is relatively easy to handle. He is one of two Bearded Dragons that live in our reptile holding room, and he is used in the classrooms as well as birthday parties and off-site programs.

Bearded Dragons are only native to Australia, so you won’t see them walking around in your backyard. They get their name from the extra skin under their mouths that look like beards. Both females and males have beards, and they use them for various reasons. Their beards are mostly used to show aggression towards other Bearded Dragons, usually when defending territory or when trying to find a mate. When this happens, their beards turn very dark or jet black to show their aggression. They can also puff their beards up to make themselves look more intimidating. Can you see the beard on Godzilla? Click on the picture to enlarge it and you get an up-close view.

In Australia, Bearded Dragons live in a wide array of areas including subtropical woodlands, savannas, the shore and even desert. Our Bearded Dragons live on a product called Calci-Sand, which is a natural Calcium Carbonate Substrate that is beneficial when ingested because it gives them calcium that is required in their diet. They are omnivores (click here to view a previous blog for the definition of omnivore) so they will eat anything from plant matter to insects and spiders, and sometimes also small rodents or lizards. At the museum, we try to replicate their natural diet as best as possible. Our Bearded Dragons mostly get a mixture of greens such as collard, turnip or mustard greens along with other vegetables like carrot, sweet potato, squash, and zucchini. Twice a week they also get fed a combination of crickets and mealworms.

Another necessity for Bearded Dragons is the absorption of UVB light that they would naturally get from the sun in the wild. If they do not get a proper amount of UVB light in captivity, their bones will not grow and form properly, along with other problems. Therefore, we supply Godzilla with a heat lamp and UVB lights that he can bask under to stay warm and healthy. In the summer, we also put our Bearded Dragons in a sunning cage outside for short periods so that they can soak up the sun’s rays.

You may just get a chance to meet Godzilla, maybe in a classroom or at your next birthday party. And, don’t worry, he won’t be anything like you’ve seen in the movies, though it could still make a great story for your friends!

You can find more information about Bearded Dragons at this website:
http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Inlandbeardeddragon.cfm

2 responses to CreatureFeature: Godzilla the Bearded Dragon

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    Erin Brown says:

    I thought this was a really awesome post, Marilyn. I really like that the readers will get a chance to meet some of the animals that aren’t on exhibit, and I really like how there’s a whole lot of information and a super-sized picture as well as a link to more information. You thought of everything! Great job!

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