HUNDREDS of spikes, scaly skin and long claws don't conjure an image of a cuddly pet. But beneath their rough and tough exterior is an animal that just wants to snuggle.
Pet owners everywhere are falling in love with these spiny guys. The lesson: never judge a pet by their spikes.
In the pet world, bearded dragons are the new black.
Whether it be their quirk factor, their distinct personalities or because they are low maintenance, they are flying off the shelves of local pet stores.
Best Friends Pet Super Centre used to sell an average of one dragon a month but these days, it's more likely to be three a day.
Luke Mahoney, from Best Friends, puts the increase down to the dragons being an unusual pet as well as them having the ability to melt any heart.
"They may look scary but they are a calm and curious creature. They love to be out and about and have their own unique personalities," he said.
"The more you interact with them, the personable they become. They tend to get a bit snuggly after a while. They are very affectionate."
A snuggly lizard might sound strange but Luke swears it's true.
"Most people who have them only keep them in their enclosures at night and let them roam around the house when they're home. They love to sit on your lap or shoulder and be close to you," he said.
He said mothers would come in and roll their eyes that their son wanted such a pet but would return later and confess that they had fallen in love with the reptile.
"They do become part of the family," Luke said.
You can even train the bearded fellas - not to the extent of a dog but a few basic tricks.
"They remember by repetition and routine," Luke said.
"Anything is possible.
"They're very intelligent."
Luke adopted one of the little guys a few months back and affectionately nicknamed him Beardy.
"Very original, I know," he said with a laugh.
He also has a cat, a dog and bird at home and Beardy gets along with all of them.
A bearded dragon is a low maintenance, no-fuss pet but they require a terrarium, a heat lamp and a UV light.
They munch on fruits and vegetables and require live crickets every few days.
They are a clean pet, although Luke confesses their little poos tend to smell.
"But they're quick and easy to clean up," he added.
You will also need a recreational wildlife licence, but these are easy to attain.
Fill out the forms on the DERM website: www.derm.qld.gov.au.
You will need to show your licence before you take your pet home.
Luke explained the reason for a licence was for the safety of the wild bearded dragons, to prevent people grabbing them from the scrub.
A baby bearded dragon will set you back about $90 while an adult is about $130.
An adult bearded dragon will grow up to a metre, depending on their sub-species.
And like a dog or a cat, a bearded dragon will pick you.
"We have a saying in the industry: you don't pick the pet, the pet picks you," Luke said.
"People just fall in love with them (dragons)."
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