Photography by Danny Fulgencio

No matter where he is, Bikuto the bearded dragon is always on the run. On a sunny afternoon in Lake Highlands, Bikuto transformed into his “sport mode” as owner Annie Corley calls it, and ran away from the bush he was exploring while no one was looking. The rebellious reptile went MIA. His owners thought he was gone for good.

That was until a peculiar notification popped up on Corley’s phone. “We saw a post on Nextdoor that someone had found a bearded dragon in their front yard, over half a mile from our house,” Corley says. “We went to pick him up, and he hissed at me when I put him in my lap.”

After Bikuto’s day-long hiatus, Corley noticed he returned with some painful injuries. “He had a beak-shaped bruise on his nose, part of his tail was injured and he was missing some scales,” Corley says, coming to the conclusion that he must have survived a predator attack.

But this escapade is just one of many for bold Bikuto. In fact, adventure is in his very name. Corley named him after a settlement she worked on in Uganda last summer. She found him on Craigslist in Chattanooga, Tennessee, not far from where she attended college at Sewanee: University of the South. “He belonged to a young boy who became bored with him,” Corley says. “But his original name was Stormy. I immediately changed it.”

While living as an honorary college student with Corley, Bikuto adjusted to dorm life just fine. He rode around on Corley’s shoulder as she roamed around campus, walked alongside her in the shady Sewanee trails and loved to relax by the creeks. Bikuto even has an Instagram account, @fratstarbikuto, for his college groupies to follow.

Now that Corley has moved back to Lake Highlands, Bikuto enjoys his daily dose of blueberries and a wide selection of worms. “He also loves cilantro,” Corley says as Bikuto throws himself off of her lap and sprints away.