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Zoo Buddy: Monitor lizards

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 12:04 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - We got to check in with the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo July 20th, 2021 to meet its a baby Nile monitor lizard. He’s a fairly new addition to the zoo and they say they got him around May of this year.

“Yeah, he was a fresh hatchling when we got him and he’s already doubled in size,” says Zookeeper Garrett Cole. “So this is a Nile monitor lizard his name is “Ra” they come from South Africa and you can find them pretty much everywhere in South Africa, but particularly along the Nile, hence the name. They average about 4 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet but some of them have been found at 7 and 8 feet long.”

Cole says they can weigh around 15-20 pounds and live about 15-20 years long.

“Ever since 1990, Florida has been riddled with these guys they broke out of captivity, they’re extremely smart so it’s hard to contain these guys and a lot of people will buy them not knowing the extent of what they’re getting into and then they get out,” says Cole.

Cole says this guy is set up in his own exhibit near the scorpions and spiders in the reptile building.

“They’re known for being hyper-aggressive and so when you get them young like this you’ve got to start them out on a training regimen where I teach him command words he knows the commands “eat” and “hand” as of right now,” explains Cole.

He says these lizards are considered “beaded lizards” because their scales are more like beads.

“The females lay the second biggest clutch out of any reptile and the biggest clutch out of any lizard,” says Cole. “They lay up to 60 eggs at one time and the coolest thing about that is they lay them in termite mounds so they’ll go in and mess the termite mounds up, they’ll lay their eggs and then the termites will rebuild the mound and it creates the perfect humidity and temperature to hatch the eggs and once the eggs hatch the females will come back to the spot and break the babies out.”

The zoo is open every day of the week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you can call them at (318) 329-2400 for more information. The boat ride, train ride, and reptile building are all back open!

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