Woman who starved pet dragon banned from keeping pets

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Image source, RSPCA
Image caption,
The RSPCA said there was no solid food in the lizard's stomach

A woman who stopped feeding or watering her bearded dragon for a month, resulting in its death, has been banned from keeping pets for five years.

Sophia Morton, from Westbury, Wiltshire, was found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

The RSPCA said vets had been forced to put the reptile, named Ellie, to sleep as it had developed a bone disease from malnutrition and was suffering.

Morton, 23, was also handed a three-month suspended prison sentence.

The case was brought by the RSPCA.

The animal charity said Morton had failed to "provide a suitable diet and environment" for the bearded dragon, which had developed a metabolic bone disease and suffered "unnecessarily".

An RSPCA spokeswoman said a post-mortem examination "revealed there was no solid food" in the lizard's stomach.

"The disease led to multiple traumatic injuries and the animal suffered pain for a minimum of six weeks," she said.

'Suffered unnecessarily'

"It was put to sleep in its own best interest."

Morton was sentenced at Salisbury Magistrates' Court to 12 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for two years.

She was also ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work, pay £328 in costs and surcharges and banned from owning or keeping animals for five years.

Bearded dragons, or "beardies", are one of the most popular lizards in captivity in the UK, according to the RSPCA website.

With a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, the lizard should be fed once a day on a diet of live insects and vegetables.

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