The Australian Reptile Park are celebrating an incredible, yet dangerous, achievement this week, with Kraken and Daenerys the Park’s resident Komodo dragons being paired for mating. Komodo dragons are the largest living lizard species and virtually modern-day dinosaurs. A venomous bite from a Komodo dragon is potentially life-threatening with keepers risked life and limb to give the endangered Komodo dragons a helping hand and to ensure they did not kill each other in the process.

This incredible moment marks an Australian first as no other zoo, sanctuary or facility have successfully bred Komodo dragons in the country. Thankfully, the introduction of the two massive lizards went according to plan and successful copulation was spotted multiple times. This means positive signs for the breeding program and an important step for the species as they are considered under threat in the wild.

Head of Reptiles, Daniel Rumsey said, “A lot of work goes into the breeding of Komodo dragons. These are two animals that could potentially kill each other and do some serious damage to us keepers in the process. It was a bit touch and go during the initial introductions, however our female became receptive and the two mated successfully.”

My Rumsey continued, “To be able to see our hard work come to fruition and witness copulation is just really quite incredible. I’ve been working with our two Komodo dragons for around five years and to see them mating, is just one of the awe-inspiring things I’ve ever seen as a zookeeper.”

For now, it is a waiting game as the staff eagerly wait for Daenerys to lay her eggs in her purpose-built nest box. Staff are currently beaming with excitement and waiting in anticipation for the day they see the eggs and then tiny little Komodo dragon hatchlings.

The Komodo dragon is a living dinosaur and the world’s largest lizard. Komodo dragons can grow up to 3-4 metres in length and weigh over 100kg. Found on the Indonesian island of Komodo, there is a stable population of about 3,000 to 5,000 Komodo dragons in the wild. The Komodo dragon is a monitor; however, their forked tongue gives them a dragon-like appearance. They are carnivorous predators but will eat just about anything.

The status of the Komodo dragon in the wild is Vulnerable, which is the status level before endangered, on the IUCN red list.  Their numbers are declining because of human encroachment, poaching, natural disasters, and a shortage of egg laying females. Breeding programs, like that of the Australian Reptile Park, are of the utmost importance.