FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – There is a new addition to the Fort Worth Zoo — eleven new additions, to be exact. For the first time in its 108-year history, the zoo is welcoming Komodo dragon hatchlings. The reptiles are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The young dragons were between 12 and 15 inches long when they first came into the world, and each weighed less than half a pound. That is about as much as a bar of soap, the Fort Worth Zoo said. A full-grown adult male can be 8 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds.
This is the first clutch for both of the new parents.
Komodo dragons typically lay between 20 and 30 eggs, which are then incubated for about nine months. Since adult dragons will often eat their young, the Fort Worth Zoo cared for the eggs in a nursury, with a constant temperature and humidity, until the babies hatched.
The new hatchlings now each have their own habitat. Only one is on exhibit at the Fort Worth Zoo, across from its parents.
While an adult Komodo dragon is a dull gray-brown in color, the juveniles are much brighter, sporting a spotted pattern on its body that can range from green to yellow to orange. The vibrant colors help keep the young reptiles camouflaged among tree limbs and leaves, the zoo said. A young Komodo dragon will live in trees to avoid predators.
The hatchlings feed on grasshoppers, beetles, geckos, eggs, birds and small mammals — a more varied diet while these young Komodo dragons live in the trees. As the animals grow, they become too large to stay in trees and move to the ground. There, the diet changes to larger animals — even as big as deer and buffalo.
Komodo dragons are the largest living lizards in the world. They are naturally found in the Indonesian grasslands and forests.