Seven baby Komodo dragons hatched March 10 at the Surabaya Zoo in eastern Java, Indonesia. A zoo spokesman, Anthan Warsito, added that they expect a second clutch later in the spring.
To protect the rare babies from being eaten by their predatory parents, the zoo placed the eggs in an artificial incubator in a protected area. Each baby will be microchipped to allow zoo workers to better track their progress.
The oh-so-cute babies will ultimately grow up to be the world’s largest — and most dangerous — lizard. An adult male can reach a length of 10 feet and a weight of over 330 pounds. They can catch and eat, well, just about anything they want to, but, as they get bigger, they generally prey on deer.
Brendan Borrell, writing for The Smithsonian, recently visited the Indonesian island home of the Komodo dragons. Noting that there are now only about 3,000 of the giant lizards remaining in the wild, he said that they have a poisonous venom that allows them to easily take down large prey.
Unfortunately for the future of the species in the wild, some Komodo dragons will attempt to kill and eat humans, which can make them unpopular among the local villagers. They have also been accused of taking local livestock including goats and even water buffalo.
In February, a bold dragon actually entered an office in a park in Indonesia where the 6-1/2 foot animal attacked two workers badly enough that they had to be hospitalized. Later that same month, a tour guide was bitten in the leg as he directed four tourists to a spot where a mother dragon was incubating her eggs.
The first fatal attack on a human in 33 years occurred in 2007 when a dragon killed an 8-year-old boy. The little boy had stepped behind a bush to relieve himself during a prolonged dry season. Local officials speculated that the thirsty dragon simply couldn’t resist the temptation.
Although they’re a popular zoo exhibit, the first captive breeding of the Komodo dragon outside Indonesia wasn’t achieved until 1992 at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. That highly successful program has since produced 55 young dragons shared with 30 zoos all over the world.
Now there are seven more baby Komodo dragons in the world.
[Komodo dragons photo courtesy Elaine Radford]