By John B. Virata
Four Javan hump-headed lizards (Gonocephalus chamaeleontinus) hatched at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center last month and the aquarium is celebrating the birth of these unusual iguanas. The addition of the four hatchlings brings the number of hump-headed iguanas at the aquarium to 13 specimens, which is the largest collection in the United States.
"We are very excited to have what seem to be our first healthy Gonocephalus chamaeleontinus hatchlings" Stephen Howard, Exhibit Technician, Herpetology at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center told ReptileChannel. "We have hatched four of this species in the past, but so far all of them have been underdeveloped and unhealthy upon hatching. Until now, only one has hatched out of the egg without assistance."
Howard said that it has been a process in determining the right temperature and humidity in which to incubate the eggs. After 80 days, he said the four new babies hatched and were eating the next day.
The hatchlings are eating small mealworms, red wiggler worms cut in half, waxworms and crickets dusted with a calcium/multivitamin powder. The are currently housed in an enclosure with controlled misting/rain systems
as Howard said the lizard likes moist and wet environments.
Javan hump-headed lizard. Photo courtesy Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
According to William Harshaw, curator of mammals and herpetology at the aquarium, little is known about the status of these lizards in the wild and every attempt to reproduce them in captivity should be taken to ensure their survival in the wild. "So little is known about their status in the wild and the more success we have with them in a facility such as ours, the more we can do to ensure their survival in the wild,” Harshaw said.
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The Javan hump-headed lizard is native to several Indonesian islands, including Java and Sumatra as well as West Malaysia. It grows to about 8 to 10 inches in length with the females larger than the males. Females are green and males are green with yellow markings. They reach maturity in three years. In the wild they are found in high elevation humid rainforests.