Spike, a 15-inch Australian bearded dragon lizard, moves his scaly head up and down to show dominance over "his terrain." However, his tough looks, posturing behavior and even his name belie his mild disposition.
"He is really very gentle," said Becky Bergman, as she and boyfriend Joe Yohn, take Spike out for his morning walk.
The couple, who live in an apartment, have a menagerie of reptiles, including three Australian bearded dragons and two tortoises that they take outside for a "potty break" and walk every morning for about an hour.
"They are potty trained," states Bergman as the two smaller Australian bearded dragons, Elderoth and Dragoth, perch on her shoulders.
When Bergman sets the pair down in the grass Elderoth does indeed demonstrate that he is potty trained.
Meanwhile, Spike checks out his surroundings.
When the smaller lizards get too close he again begins moving his head up and down, a show of male dominance.
Dragoth, the only female of the group, waves her right arm, a behavior that shows her acceptance of Spike's dominance over the group, Bergman explains.
The reptiles know their boundaries, and never wander far away, Yohn said, although the lizards can move quite quickly, as Elderoth does when he spots something moving on the wall of a nearby building.
But he is quickly retrieved and brought back to the grassy area with the rest of the group.
The lizards aren't the only ones with district personalities, Yohn said.
Ebby, an African Sulcata, is the youngest and smaller of the two tortoises, but as she ages she could grow to be 100 pounds or more, Bergman said.
She is also faster and more inquisitive than the tree-toed box tortoise named Rocky that the couple rescued from an abusive situation.
When Ebby approaches the larger tortoise in a show of friendship, Rocky escapes within his shell, wanting no part of it.
"Reptiles are ideal pets for us," said Bergman, who travels a lot with her job.
All, except for Rocky, were purchased from pet stores, and the Australian dragons have already made a name for themselves by starring in a commercial for Tukes Food, live crickets sold commercially for reptiles.
Bearded dragons live in the dry regions in central Australia, occupying a broad range of habitats.
While not true "dragons" in the fire-breathing sense, the impressive-looking bearded dragons can look quite fierce, especially if they are threatened.
When cornered, the reptiles put on a bluff display, expanding their throat and gaping with their "beard" (actually a fringe of scales) bristling.