Christchurch wildlife park welcomes two Australian lace monitors, relations of Komodo dragons

Isaac Gunson
Source: 1News

They’re an Australian species, and they hatched in Auckland, but two lace monitors, or tree goannas, will be making their home in Christchurch.

The pair of nine-month-old lizards arrived from Auckland Zoo yesterday, and are joining Orana Wildlife Park’s Reptile House.

The park’s native species manager Catherine Roughton says it’s exciting to have the lizards at Orana.

The two reptiles are about a foot long - so far -but varanus varius , as they’re otherwise known, can reach up to two metres in length, and a weight of 14 kg.

It’s not clear how long these two will grow, as they haven’t been sexed yet, and males tend to grow more than females.

Ms Roughton says she hopes that these two new lizards garner more excitement for reptiles.

“When people come to our reptile house, they’ll see our amazing native species’, which are really special, and really unique.”

According to her, it’s the size, speed and charisma that sets these lizards apart.

“They’re related to the Komodo dragon, which makes them pretty exciting,” she says.

This species is mainly active from September to May, often sheltering for the colder months.

“We’re hoping to keep it pretty warm year around, and in here, with a nice big heater for them and with it fully enclosed, I think we’ll be able to manage it.”

It’s been 15 years since Orana Park has hosted these reptiles, an opportunity Roughton says they jumped at when Auckland Zoo offered them up.

They’re being held in the former shingleback lizard enclosure, which was renovated to emulate the warmer Australian climate they’re used to.

As the pair grow, a new enclosure will be prepared for them, to accommodate their soon-to-be-gargantuan size.

Orana Wildlife Park intends to keep the lace monitors for the entirety of their 20-year lifespan, so while you may want to get along and see them soon, the Australian reptiles aren’t going anywhere for quite some time.