They help people by providing support during difficult times and are mostly commonly utilized by people suffering from conditions such as anxiety or depression.
Usually dogs are trained for this task. However, diversity of ESAs is growing. Horses, pigs and even peacocks have been used as emotional support for their owners.
Recently, people have begun turning to reptiles as emotional support animals, with Bearded Dragons as the most common choice. Here are three reasons to consider Bearded Dragons.
While it may seem an unusual choice to select a Bearded Dragon over a dog or cat as an emotional support animal, having a reptile species holds several distinct advantages.
Bearded Dragons are smaller than most dogs and cats, and work well in smaller spaces (such as apartments). And generally speaking, it is easier to get permission for a small reptile than a large dog in rented accommodation.
Reptiles are considered to be lower maintenance, they do not require daily walks and feeding or weekly grooming. Yet they can still provide the support of another larger animal, and so may be a better match for some.
In captivity, the lifespan of a Bearded Dragon is around 10 years, similar to a dog or cat. They can therefore provide a decade of emotional support to their owners, similar to many other species of pets.
Finally, Bearded Dragons do not have fur, and so may make a suitable emotional support for those who are allergic to pet hair.
Bearded Dragons are known for their calm and relaxed demeanor. Unlike an emotional support dog, they are known to be laid back across a variety of situations, provided they feel safe within them.
Their social personalities mean they feel safe around humans and are happy to be handled by their owners. Consequently, after a few trips outdoors to desensitize them to crowds, they naturally feel quite at ease around lots of people.
Bearded Dragons can certainly provide a talking point! For individuals who feel socially anxious, a Bearded Dragon can provide an ice breaker and something to talk about!
When waiting in line at the grocery store a Bearded Dragon can provide a respite from chatting with the cashier. It can be a great way to engage coworkers or strangers in a coffee shop.
Once registered, your Bearded Dragon can go anywhere any other service animal can go. This is a great reason to register your pet as an emotional support animal as soon as possible.
A note on Bearded Dragon care
While Bearded Dragons do have simple requirements for a reptile, they do still have certain needs that need to be met for them to correctly function as an emotional support animal.
Bearded Dragons require an enriched terrarium with a heat gradient. They also need a UVA lamp alongside their heat lamp in order to give them appropriate basking opportunities. You will need to have the space in your living area to accommodate this.
Though they are mostly vegetarian, they need insects every so often to keep their protein levels up. Beyond this, they require a diet of fruit and vegetables. This will need to correctly balanced in order to keep them healthy.
What do I do if I want my Bearded Dragon to be an ESA?
To be legally certified as an ESA, Bearded Dragons must be registered with an Emotional Support Animal organization. The most popular one is the Emotional Support Animal Registration of America (ESARA), but there are many other organizations available.
You will also need a letter from a medical professional certifying that your animal is a legally registered support animal that you require for your emotional needs. This letter should contain the name, address, and contact details of your physician. It should also contain your diagnosis (i.e. if you are suffering from a mental health condition) and in what way having your Bearded Dragon helps with this. This will need to be updated on a yearly basis in order to be considered valid by most agencies.
Once registered, you will need to carry this documentation whenever taking your Bearded Dragon into public spaces. When taking your Bearded Dragon into bars or restaurants, it may be useful to call ahead to let them know you’re coming. This will allow them to get everything ready for you.
You may wish to purchase an I.D. vest for your Bearded Dragon to wear in public spaces. It may also be beneficial to carry a harness and lead incase you need to put them down for a moment. A portable carrier in order to allow your animal to take breaks from the crowd may also be a useful investment.
Bearded Dragons are social and loving pets who can make an excellent ESA for those two will open their heart to you.
Though they may struggle to fetch things for you like a dog can, these brilliant reptiles can provide their owners with a sense of purpose and satisfaction when they are in their lowest moments.
Do you have a brilliant Bearded Dragon at home? Tell us about your brilliant Beardie in the comments below.