If you pass through the Central National Bank drive-through any morning during the workweek, a scaled little helper may greet you. Her name is Bella, and she is a bearded dragon.
“She’s a princess and a diva,” bank teller Shelly Padgett said. “She tells you what she wants and what she doesn’t want.”
Padgett has developed a close relationship with Bella and sometimes refers to her as Bella Lou or Sweetie Pie.
“Shelly’s the lizard momma,” bank teller Vicki Hoffer said.
While other employees enjoy holding Bella, some keep their distance, but Padgett is the only one who actually kisses the dragon.
“Bella is a stinker,” branch manager Shawn Geis said. “Shelly picked her and then Bella picked Shelly.”
When Bella arrived at the bank, Padgett researched bearded dragons. She learned that Bella enjoys a warm habitat and a diet of fruit, vegetables, crickets and grasshoppers.
Bella does not eat as well when Padgett is gone and sometimes Bella will not eat, Geis said.
Padgett feeds Bella by hand.
“Meal worms are her french-fries,” Padgett said. “If she eats too many she’ll get fat.”
Bella generally eats in the morning. Padgett retrieves her from the terrarium in the front office sets a dish of food at her workstation, where she lets Bella crawl around and eat at her leisure.
“She perks up whenever I call for her,” Padgett said. “She’s very loving, and literally loves attention.”
Sometimes she crawls on the keyboard, or in the deposit drawer, but she spends most of her time on Padgett’s shoulder.
When customers come through, they look for Bella and wonder where she is if they do not see her, Padgett said.
Bella’s environment was not always so hospitable. She is missing several claws and a small portion of her tail.
She was donated to the bank a year ago when a customer saw the terrarium front office. The customer said other bearded dragons were responsible for Bella’s missing appendages.
However, with the attention and Padgett and the rest of her friends at the bank have given her Bella seems not to have any recollection of those hard times.