Nassau County Third Precinct police officers responding to a 911 call about an unusual find under a New Hyde Park garbage can Wednesday night discovered a "catatonic" bearded dragon lizard that had apparently escaped from a nearby home and become incapacitated because of the cold weather.
Police said the officers placed the lizard, which was found outside the home on Lake Drive, into a container and then into their patrol vehicle in order to warm it.
The bearded dragon then responded, beginning to move, police said in a statement Thursday.
Officers have contacted an approved "wildlife rehabilitator" to care for the lizard while they try to find the owner. Police said the reptile appeared well cared for.
Bearded dragons can grow up to a foot long and live for up to 20 years, but are native to Australia and like other reptiles are coldblooded and need warmth in order to remain active and alert. According to online animal websites, bearded dragons can go into a state of hibernation — becoming inactive — if the temperature drops to below 60 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The outside temperature in Nassau on Thursday morning was barely in the 40s, according to the National Weather Service, a chill environment for any reptile.