■ RIVERSIDE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL SERVICE / Contributed
NEW YEAR’S REVIEW
First Published June 14, 2018
A couple in the Hemet area discovered a bearded dragon inside a package delivered to them on Wednesday June 6. Al and Chris Brummett ordered a bicycle from Walmart.com as a gift for one of their granddaughters. Mr. Brummett made the startling find after unboxing the bicycle. He was in the midst of his assemble job when he noticed a critter in the box staring back at him.
“At first I freaked out because he was so big,” Brummett said. “Here was this massive lizard looking over his shoulder at me.” He says his reaction was almost a cartoonish, double take. “There he was, and he had this look, such as ‘what the heck just happened?’” he said. “And I’m thinking, ‘yeah, me too.’”
He immediately found a five-gallon painter’s bucket to place over the lizard and contacted Riverside County Animal Services. Officer Carra Mathewson responded to the property in the Valle Vista area of Hemet. She then called her colleague, Officer Harvey Beck, who has better knowledge regarding exotic creatures and how to handle them. Officer Beck recognized it as a bearded dragon – a native of Australia and a critter that is legal to have as a pet.
At first, the couple wasn’t sure what to make of the creature. Mr. Brummet says he wondered how long it had been inside the big, cardboard box. All he knew was that the bike was made in China. Mr. Brummet was certain his wife would have freaked out if she was the one to discover it. “She was not around when I opened the box,” he said. “If she would have been present, she would have screamed crazily.”
Officer Mathewson said the call will be one of her strangest in a career that has had some interesting ones. “Somehow that bearded dragon ended up in that box and who knows how long it had been in there. It’s a wacky tale for sure,” she says.
The Brummets have 19 grandchildren and were doing several online orders for birthday presents at the time when the “dragon” was discovered.
Since the critter most likely needed some nourishment, Officer Beck offered his new buddy some canned peaches. Bearded dragons typically enjoy small insects, such as crickets, but also enjoy a steady diet of fruits and vegetables.