First komodo dragons hatch at Aussie zoo
Laine Clark |
Finding love can be tough. For komodo dragons, it is potentially deadly.
However, it has not stopped an Australian zoo playing cupid and becoming the first in the country to successfully breed and hatch the giant lizards.
Australian Reptile Park staff on NSW’s Central Coast had to worry about more than potentially breaking hearts when they tried to find a love match for their komodo dragons.
“A lot of work goes into the breeding of komodo dragons,” said head reptile keeper Jake Meney.
“These are two animals that could potentially kill each other and do some serious damage to us keepers in the process.
“It was a bit touch-and-go during the initial introductions however our female became receptive and the two mated successfully, which led to the hatching of three perfect baby dragons.”
The Somersby park’s keepers are celebrating their new arrivals – and breathing a sigh of relief – after risking life and limb during the painstaking breeding process.
After overseeing the potentially dangerous mating process – for both dragons and keeper – staff then had to avoid copping a venomous bite from the parents when they retrieved the reptile’s eggs to ensure their survival.
Keepers monitored the eggs for the entire seven-month incubation period, ensuring they were at an optimal temperature before finally welcoming the baby dragons into the world.
Mr Meney said the early signs were good, with all three new arrivals recently passing health checks that marked their first week of life.
They are already 40cm in length and weigh between 112g and 116g – and counting – thanks to a steady diet of insects.
The carnivorous predators, native to Indonesia, are the largest living lizard species and can grow up to four metres long and weigh more than 100kg.
Mr Meney said the successful hatch was good news for the vulnerable species’ future.
There are 3000 to 5000 komodo dragons left in the wild.
“They grow pretty quickly. Within their first year, we are hoping for them to reach almost a metre in length and one kilogram, and commence training to walk in the main park area to meet visitors, just like their parents do,” Mr Meney said.
“We have plans on moving them onto display in a purpose-built home for them soon and keeping up their feeding routine and regular health checks.”AAP