Paignton Zoo has bred a species of venomous lizard for the first time. Two Mexican beaded lizards have hatched at the Devon zoo. Incredibly, the moment one egg hatched was captured by Zoo photographer Elliye Stobbart.
This CITES protected lizard (Heloderma horridum) is a venomous species found principally in Mexico and southern Guatemala. Heloderma means "studded skin", and with its dramatic black and yellow beaded body, this predator is quite a sight from the moment it hatches. Animal experts are unsure why it has venom at all, but scientists have found that it contains enzymes useful for manufacturing drugs to treat diabetes.
Luke Harding, Paignton Zoo’s Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates: “It’s a good to start 2019 with another breeding success. It’s testimony to the hard work of the Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates department and all the support and investment from the Zoo that we are having such great success with our breeding programmes. The commitment and expertise of the staff cannot be praised enough and all their hard work is paying off with fantastic results such as the hatching of these lizards. It is an exciting time to be part of a fantastic team of keepers at such a forward thinking organisation and I hope many more successes will come in 2019”.
Adult beaded lizards can grow up to 91 centimetres (36 inches) in length. Youngsters are rarely seen, spending their early years underground.