28 August 2013

Chester Zoo keeper Ruth Smith holds a rare Bell’s anglehead lizard – the first ever to hatch in the UK. (Photo: Matt Cook)

A rare baby lizard has hatched here at Chester Zoo.

It’s the first Bell’s anglehead lizard (Gonocephalus bellii) to ever be bred in the UK.

The species is native to South East Asia and Indonesia but little else is known about the mysterious creatures.

Herpetology keeper Ruth Smith said:

“In many ways the Bell’s anglehead lizard is a real underdog. Very, very little is known about them and to reptile experts they are a compete mystery. Run an internet search on them and you’ll find that hardly any reliable information comes up – they’re that data deficient.

“What we can be sure about though is that this is the very first time the species has hatched in a zoo in the UK and possibly even Europe. So we’re absolutely thrilled with our new arrival.

“Breeding these rare lizards gives us the opportunity to study the complex ways they reproduce, learn all about the hatching process and monitor their development. For example we now know that their incubation period is between 151 and 155 days and double in size in the month after they hatch. Creating a log of information like this can ultimately be vital for the conservation of this, and similar species, in the wild.”

The youngster will be cared for in a behind-the-scenes rearing facility until it is old enough to join the conservation breeding programme for the species. Its parents can be seen in the zoo’s Realm of the Red Ape exhibit.

We have also achieved breeding successes with several other threatened lizard species, including sand lizards and the Utilia spiny-tailed iguana.

 

Keeper Ruth Smith with the newly hatched Bell’s anglehead lizard