Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Komodo dragons hatched in captivity

A zoo in Indonesia's second-largest city, Surabaya, has succeeded in hatching Komodo dragons, the largest living species of lizard, for a second time outside their natural habitat.
Komodo dragons are found only in eastern Indonesia, on Komodo island and several other islets in the Nusa Tenggara archipelago.
Fourteen Komodo dragon eggs were hatched in incubators at the zoo in Surabaya on the main Java island over the weekend, bringing to 41 the number of the reptiles in their collection. The zoo succeeded in hatching 13 eggs in the first attempt during the 1990s.
"We collected all the eggs in September, 2007, from Komodo cages, and now 14 eggs have already hatched while one has failed to hatch," Nur Ali Faisol, head of the animal nursery at the Surabaya zoo, told reporters.
The habitat of the Komodo dragons is extremely harsh as they live on arid volcanic islands with steep slopes and low rainfall.
The lizards are generally solitary animals except during the breeding season.
Baby Komodo dragons weigh 140 to 170 grams each at birth, growing to a mature length of more than three metres and weight of up to 100 kilograms. They have a very keen sense of smell to track and hunt down their prey.
The lizards regularly kill animals such as pigs and small deer and sometimes even adult water buffalo.
But they are opportunistic feeders and are prepared to eat anything they can attack – including small dragons and occasionally humans.
The saliva of the dragon contains virulent bacteria, which means that even if the prey survives an attack, it probably will die of infection later.
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