A four foot long lizard at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is waiting for a mate.

The male mangrove monitor lizard, nick-named Claude, recently came to Devon from Paris, although he was hatched at Prague Zoo.

Mike Bungard, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at Paignton Zoo, explained: “He is 6 years old and they can live for about 20 years in captivity, so he is quite young.” Lounge lizard Claude is described as: “Chilled with mild bouts of hissing!”

Claude is content living on his own, but love is on the way. A female at Chester Zoo is likely to move to Paignton Zoo in due course – but Claude will have to be patient. Mike: “She will have to spend three months in quarantine and then we will have to see how well they get on – it is not always love at first sight!”

The mangrove monitor is an iconic species of a critically important habitat under pressure – tropical coastal forest. Without mangrove swamps a huge diversity of life would be lost and the effects on tropical coastlines and coral reefs would be devastating. Mike: “We need to generate awareness and inspire people to take positive action to protect this habitat.”

The mangrove monitor, Varanus indicus, also known as the mangrove goanna or the Western Pacific monitor lizard, is found across northern Australia and New Guinea and a range of Pacific islands. It is a CITES appendix II species, which means that the trade in animal products from this species is closely controlled.

Mike added: “Some monitor species can produce fertile eggs by parthenogenesis - the female does not need a male to reproduce. The mangrove monitor is said to be one of these species. Parthenogenesis is understood but the occurrence in large reptiles like monitors is rarely recorded.”

Mangrove monitors feed on eggs, molluscs, rodents, insects, crabs, smaller lizards, fish and carrion. In some parts of their range they are known to eat juvenile crocodiles. They are hunted in many places for their skin which is used for leather in making drum heads.

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