Meet George La Rosa: a morbidly obese bearded dragon.
George came into our lives four years ago when my brother, Robert, bought him as a pet while at college. The lizard would come home for the holidays and needed certain accoutrements (i.e. a heating lamp, live crickets, etc.) to stay in tiptop shape.
Then, when Robert got into medical school, it became apparent that he couldn’t take George with him, because lizards aren’t permitted on plane rides. (Hello, PETA, this is your next cause.)
Meaning that the new caretakers of George would be none other than my parents, Sheila and Bill. Now, George had steadily increased in girth and appetite, going from a svelte, agile climber to, as my Dad dubbed him, “a lethargic lizardo.”
George had also moved on from deftly chasing crickets to being hand fed live worms with a pair of tweezers. So my parents, being the Italian/Irish people that they are, would dutifully feed George to his hearts content. Unfortunately, his heart and tummy desired 8 to 10 worms per day—a substantial sum!
Eventually this gorging on invertebrates led to a health issue: one day George didn’t make a bowel movement. In fact, he hadn’t “moved” in several days, forcing my parents to wonder if something was wrong. They researched local reptile veterinarians, found an appointment and went, carting their poor George along with them.
What happened was this: My parents and George sit in a waiting room, the veterinarian, “a woman with rainbow hair and multiple piercings,” came out to greet them and, upon seeing the patient, began to laugh uncontrollably. Apparently the diagnosis was clear upon first glance: morbid obesity coupled with an inability of the patient to lift its own body.
The conversation was as follows:
Vet: How often are you feeding George?
Dad: Once a day.
Vet: How much?
Dad: 8 to 10 worms.
Mom: Is that bad?
Vet: Lizards of this size should be fed 2 worms once or twice a week.
Mom and Dad: Oh…
[Vet proceeds with a lizard rectal exam, feels around, looks surprised.]
Vet: Also, George appears to be a she. Georgina.
Vet: Can we take a photo of George for our Facebook page? I’ve never seen one this size.
So, now we have a morbidly obese, sexually confused bearded dragon who hasn’t had a BM in days because it has, quite plainly, tried to eat itself to death.
Cut to the present: George is now on a lizard diet, consuming 2 worms twice a week and getting exercise on the floor of our living room. I can’t say that I’m noticing any immediate weight loss, but I’ve heard these things can take time.
Does anyone who may be going through a similar problem have any words of wisdom for George? Any weight loss tips?