A young woman from Forth admitted failing to care for two dragons properly when she appeared in the dock at Lanark Sheriff Court this morning (Wednesday)
The bearded dragons are a type of lizard, more suited to the desert sands than a chilly former mining village in Lanarkshire.
The dragons were taken from her by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after visits to her home. The court heard that one of them had subsequently died; the other had been rehomed.
Jamiee Gardiner, 18, admitted failing to meet the needs of the dragons in January and February last year, failing to provide appropriate heat, failing to provide adequate and appropriate nutrition, and failing to provide treatment for a mite infestation, dehydration, malnourishment and a fungal disease.
The SSPCA inspector had called at the house, in Manse Road, Forth, on another matter and had found two bearded dragons in a tank in poor condition.
"Both had little black mites crawling over them around their eyes and ears, and were very thin with no fat reserves," said depute fiscal Vish Kathuria.
"Interviewed, she confirmed she was responsible for the bearded dragons and that they were not receiving any veterinary treatment., and that she was aware of the mites on the dragons' faces."
Her solicitor Jim Robertson said that Gardiner and her then-partner had had dragons for two years with no difficulty, and the problem began after a new dragon was bought.
"They are no experts," said Mr Robertson. "They tried to deal with these problems themselves, tried to clean the sand in the tank regularly and to get the mites off.
"But the bottom line is that they did not have the expertise to do that.
"At one stage she was trying to hand-feed them."
Gardiner had had a baby, and the couple's relationship was "hitting the rocks" ; distracted, she had not taken the creatures to the vet.
He added that caring for such exotic creatures properly would have involved a complicate regime including calcium supplements, and a range of insects for food.
"These are desert-born creatures," he said. "To keep them in Scotland one has to put a fair effort in, and for two years she was successful."
Gardiner had never been in trouble before, and was on benefits, unable to pay a fine.
Sheriff Derek O'Carroll ordered her to carry out 90 hours of unpaid work, and imposed a limited ban on keeping animals for three years, allowing her to have a cat or a dog during that period.