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Rare 'monkey lizards' hatch in Maidenhead

George Roberts

Rare 'monkey lizards' hatch in Maidenhead

Bean, one of the new-born Peruvian Monkey Lizards at BCA

Vulnerable lizards which have never been successfully bred in the UK have just hatched in Maidenhead.

A clutch of Peruvian Bush Anole Lizards, also known as the Peruvian Monkey Lizard, have been successfully bred at the Berkshire College of Agriculture’s zoo.

South America’s answer to the chameleon, the monkey lizards have a prehensile tail that acts like a fifth limb, helping them grip onto branches as they climb.

They also have independent eyes like chameleons, enjoy the same food and even have the same ‘shaky’ walk.

The lizards are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and a project to build a new dam that would flood more than a quarter of their natural habitat in South America puts them at even greater risk.

Bean the lizard hatching from an egg at BCA.

The successful breeding programme will be a huge boost to the species, with very few hatchings happening anywhere in the world.

James Hicks, an animal technician in BCA’s Exotics House, said: “It was a big relief when the first lizard finally poked its head out of the egg after such a long wait.

“The babies are shy but growing well and we hope to expand our breeding group of these rare lizards in the future.

“It is important that zoos continue to work with these relatively unknown reptile species, alongside the more recognisable ones, to educate the public about the diversity that exists out there”.

BCA Zoo will soon to able to reopen to the public when lockdown restrictions are eased.

Once it is back up and running, it will be able to welcome people on the popular zoo tours and animal encounters.
To learn more, visit zoo.bca.ac.uk/encounters

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