Lynn Benjamin has always been passionate about animals of every kingdom, but she chose to breed and raise bearded dragons; these creatures, in her eyes, are just as much in need of nurture and love as both of her toy teacup Chihuahuas.
Her home has become a dragon shrine; she owns a total of 22 of these curious-looking lizards, each one with its own name and personality. Lynn has a very personal, motherly relationship with her dragons and can describe every dragon's personality, origin, biological background and a health profile. As she carries them around the room, it is surprising to see how much affection the creatures have for her. They tenderly crawl into the crook of her neck and close their eyes as she pets and coos at them.
Last April, Benjamin received four aquariums from a friend and began researching what to put in them. After ruling out fish, iguanas, geckos and frills, she decided to see how she would get along with a bearded dragon. She purchased her first dragon from a reptile and small animal rescue unit called FlashnDragonz. The company was very cooperative with her in providing care information and avenues for her to research and gain knowledge about her new pet. Benjamin fell in love immediately and by last June, she had decided to become a breeder, and Carolina Designer Dragons was born.
Benjamin explains herself to be a pet hobbyist breeder and says that these smaller breeders are much different from the large, commercial breeding companies. "Pet hobbyists are animal lovers," she says. "Though they do turn a profit from the sale of their animals, the goal is typically to make enough money to support their animal-loving hobby. They really just do it because they love it, because they want to see the species flourish, not because they care about making money. If we are going to captivate a wild animal, its survival becomes our responsibility." As a result of this, there are many benefits to buying your bearded dragon from a pet hobbyist breeder.
Benjamin explains the extensive amount of personal attention and love each animal receives, from careful attention to diet, habitat, bathing and breeding to the utmost concern for each animal's stress levels, stimulation and social environment. "They are very social animals," explains Benjamin. "They need a strong social atmosphere like tiny puppies or children." And Benjamin does think of these creatures as her children, encouraging buyers to do their research before buying one of these reptiles, revealing that pet hobbyist breeders like herself are always thrilled to educate future pet owners and help them to acquire as much information as they can. She is excited about the thought of helping reptile enthusiasts learn about bearded dragons and would love to give show-and-tell presentations in classrooms or for boy and girl scouts. She looks forward to what the future may bring with this upcoming breeding season, which is beginning this month, and hopes to find the new babies good homes. "You have to find what works for you and be prepared to make mistakes," is her advice to future dragon owners. "You learn as you go and everything will turn out just fine as long as you love them."
Urban Explorer's Handbook