A baby Komodo dragon hatched on October 8 at the Memphis Zoo for the first time in the Zoo's history. Zoo keepers still don’t know the sex of the lizard, who weighed just 99 grams when it was born, after 222 days of incubation. Komodo Dragons are the world’s largest lizard species; once grown they can weigh up to 250 pounds.
“We’ll keep the baby until it measures about three to four feet in length,” said Dr. Steve Reichling, the zoo’s curator of reptiles and amphibians. “Then, we will most likely send it to another institution based on Species Survival Plan recommendations from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.”
The lizard was the first born at the zoo.
“This was the culmination of over a decade of hard work by the animal staff,” said Reichling. “This hatchling is the start of what we expect will be a very successful Komodo dragon breeding program.”
The animal’s mother, an eight-year-old named “Norberta,” laid eight eggs in February, only one of which was fertile. However, zookeepers aren’t sure which of the zoo’s two male dragons are responsible. In fact, a zoo spokesperson said it’s possible that neither “Jeff” nor “Voltron” is a proud papa.
“It is also possible for female komodo dragons to fertilize their own eggs through a process known as parthenogenesis,” a spokesperson said in a written statement. “This form of reproduction has been documented several times in captive dragons.”
The zoo says it will determine paternity and name the baby lizard before the end of the year.
Photo Credit: Memphis Zoo