Prisoners keep pet lizards
PRISON staff are cracking down on inmates keeping bearded dragon lizards in their cells at Maryborough Correctional Centre.
One lizard was relocated to the TESS Wildlife Sanctuary at Maryborough last month after being confiscated from a prisoner.
Around the same time another lizard died in a cell after being kept by a prisoner for about a year.
The cause of death has not been determined.
A Department of Community Safety spokesman said prison management was aware of prisoners keeping reptiles as pets but did not authorise the activity.
“Management has never approved prisoners keeping lizards,” the spokesman said.
“One prisoner in residential accommodation at the Maryborough Correctional Centre had a lizard which he cared for approximately one year.
“The lizard died a number of weeks ago.
“Further, on August 16 the general manager was advised that another prisoner in secure accommodation was looking after a lizard, and that he had placed the lizard in the exercise yard in the morning and it returned every afternoon.
“The general manager instructed that the lizard be removed and taken to a wildlife shelter – this occurred on the evening of August 16.”
TESS Wildlife Sanctuary manager Ray Revill said the confiscated lizard had a deformity in its tail because of an inadequate diet while being kept in captivity.
“It’s a female bearded dragon about 15-18 months old,” he said.
“In captivity you have to give them vitamin supplements or they end up with this deformity in their tail.
“It hinders their climbing and running abilities.
“We feed our lizards a varied diet of insects and vegetable matter plus supplements.
“Because of its deformity and because it was held in captivity so long, this lizard has no idea how to hunt and can’t be released into the wild.
“I think it’s good for prisoners to adopt animals. It’s good for their mental health and gives them responsibility.
“But you’ve got to do it the right way – the wrong diet affects their growth, plus there are legal issues.
“Anyone who wants to keep lizards needs to get a licence to hold reptiles.”