Species Accounts

I NEED YOUR HELP-I only feel qualified (just barely) to write about species which I keep. In order to have the most information available I need you to help. If you keep a species which is not covered here, and want to help, please send your care guides to If a care guide is not written by me, then I do not necessarily agree with it. I will not place care guides which I think are grossly inaccurate (this is up for me to decide). However I do believe the more information the better. I believe most, if not all, monitors can be cared for in similar ways, and thus the information on this site can be applied to the majority of monitors available in captivity. Regardless people always say yeah but what about__________(insert your monitor here). For them I dedicate this page.

7.0 Savannah Monitor (V. exanthematicus)

7.1 Ridge-Tailed Monitor or "Ackie" (V. acanthurus)

7.2 Argus Monitor (V. panoptes horni)

7.3 Brown Rough Neck or Dumerils Monitor (V. Dumerilii)

7.4 Salvator or Water Monitor (V. Salvator)

7.5 Komodo Dragon (V. komodoensis)


Savannah monitors are often labeled beginner monitors. THEY ARE NOT. They have been assigned this label for a variety of reasons. First, they are readily available and very inexpensive. They only cost importers less than $5.00 each and are imported by the thousands. Savannah monitors also have a reputation for becoming tame. However, of the hundreds of thousands of imported Savannah monitors how many survive never mind becoming tame? The answer is very few. Not because they are fragile animals nor is it because they do not make good captives. It is because they fall into the hands of beginners, who are not ready for taking care of a (Captive Savannah monitor foraging in a field.)

monitor lizard. Often times these monitors are fresh imports who are mal-nourished, carry parasites, and need to be nursed back to health. Virtually all Savannah monitors are imported, so if somebody is offering a CB Savannah monitor ask them for proof. If you are a beginner get a captive bred monitor, such as an ackie, it will save you a ton of headaches.

Savannah monitors reach a moderate size for a monitor. Males can reach over 4' in length while females are typically smaller. They are a heavily bodied monitor and care must be taken that they are not overfed and become obese. Young Savannah monitors can be fed mostly an insect diet. They will readily take crickets, worms, snails, and roaches. Be sure to dust insects with a good calcium supplement such as repto-cal or miner-all. As they increase in size they may become less interested in the smaller insects and it may become more practical to feed mice.

Hatchlings can be housed in a 55-gallon aquarium. However these monitors will grow extremely fast and you will soon need to be thinking about larger accommodations. When my Savannah monitor was 14" I moved him into a 6'x2'x2' cage. An adult should be housed in a 8'x4' but larger is better. Savannah monitor love to burrow so a deep substrate is needed and dirt is preferred. There should be a basking spot of 130+ degrees and the ambient on the cool side should be around 75.

Ridge-tailed monitors or ackies are in my opinion one of the best beginner monitors available. The high cost of the monitor itself often turns beginners off, but I encourage you to consider them. In the long run the Ackies will be cheaper for many reasons. They are all captive born so they should not have to be treated for parasites which means no expensive vet visits. They eat less amounts of food than larger monitors and can be fed crickets their entire life. They only attain a relative small size and do not require large (Ackie basking)

expensive enclosures.

Ackies are generally easy going monitors who do not mind interactions, although there are plenty of exceptions. The best advantage of ackies and other "dwarf monitors" is being able to house a trio or pair of them in a relatively small enclosure. You will be able to learn a great deal about monitor behavior and monitor needs, which will provide essential information if you decide to keep other species.

Ackies reach a small size in the monitor world. They tend to get around 2' although many are smaller and some larger. Ackies can live on a diet of insects their entire life. I feed almost exclusively crickets with the rare pinky mouse as a treat. They will readily take worms, roaches, and other insects as well. Be sure to dust insects with a good calcium supplement such as repto-cal or miner-all.

I prefer to try and keep my monitors in the same cage throughout their lives. That said, I have keep my trio in a 5'x2'x2' trough. A 6'x2'x2' would be best but slightly smaller will suffice. You can put them in a smaller cage if you must, but they grow rapidly and will need a larger enclosure in about 6 months. Ackies like most monitors love to burrow so a deep substrate is needed and dirt is preferred. A minimum of 12" is recommended but if you can provide more then by all means do so. The substrate should be moist but not wet. This is important because if kept in a too dry of cage you will experience many problems due to retained sheds. This includes toes falling off. There should be a basking spot of 130+ degrees and the ambient on the cool side should be around 75. A water bowl should be provided and a few branches for them to climb on will no hurt either.


(Two ackies sharing a burrow)

Written by Chad Jacobs

Here is my take on the care for argus monitors. This care sheet is for a single animal or a breeding pair.

CAGE SIZE- 8 feet long, 4 feet wide , 4 feet tall. Make sure you build it to open from the top. Side opening cages don't work well.

SUBSTRATE-Dirt works best. It should be no less than 2 feet deep. A tip to make (Two argus monitors, one tripoding photo by Chad Jacobs)

burrowing easier, which is very important, is to lay plywood on top of the substrate.

HEAT-The cool side of the cage should stay around 80 degrees. The basking temps I use are 125-130 degrees.

FOOD- I feed adult mice as the main diet. I'll also give them roaches and turkey with Miner-all, but only when I'm out of mice. As far as how much to feed them, let's just say a lot. I was able to fill up one of my argus monitors in six days costing $36 on the seventh day it was full. Note on feeding, if your basking spot is too cool your argus will not have the energy and appetite it should, and if you feed without the proper heat you will end up with a fat animal. FAT ANIMALS DIE YOUNG.

HUMIDITY- With the high temps needed, you will need to maintain high humidity. One of the most common ways to do this is to control the air flow leaving your cage.

WATER-I use a large water dish just to be on the safe side. It is not too often that I see them drink but it's there if they want it.

ATTITUDE- If you ask most argus monitor keepers if Argus are tame, they will laugh in your face. The "tame" argus is rare. If you are looking at an argus and it seems inactive, you should take it to the Vet or check your husbandry. If you are looking for an animal that will keep you watching its cage to see what it will do next. Then maybe an argus is for you.

Written by Chris Dieter of Salvator Farms TX

The first time I viewed an Asian water monitor the animal was being passed off as a Komodo dragon in the movie " The Freshman". This is understandable as the lizards large size, bulk, and generally easy going personality make it a more than adequate stand-in for it's more famous relative. I have always had an interest in the larger reptiles and with my interest piqued by the film decided to acquire a water monitor for my personal collection. The first animal to come available was a two year old specimen that had been kept in less than optimum conditions and was only 18-20 inches in length. This animal was shy and more inclined to remain hidden than act anything like the tame water monitors I had been told stories about, let alone the animal in the movie. In fact this animal had a terrible attitude, biting, tail slapping, vomiting, and defecating at the slightest provocation. Strangely through all this I was growing fond of this animals spirit, it's beauty, and its intelligence. I also was becoming acutely aware of the growth potential of the world's second largest lizard. When given proper conditions this animal grew from two feet to just over five feet in less than eighteen months. Given the animals positive attributes, size potential, and scarcity of quality captive-bred specimens I decided to make the Asian water monitor my next breeding project.

The specimen I had in my possession was a male which meant that I needed at least one female and preferably two to have a chance at a successful reproductive event. Male water monitors can be differentiated from females on the basis of large hemipenal bulging at the base of the tail . The males will also generally have broader heads. Finding mates for my male specimen proved to be no easy task. Female monitors as a whole are much more scarce than males, and in my opinion worth there weight in gold. Through much searching and a little haggling I acquired my first female, a young, approximately three foot. This female had laid eggs previously and was just entering her reproductive years. With monitors the onset of reproductive viability is generally considered a byproduct of size instead of age. In Asian water monitors that size is generally around three feet of total length. As luck would have it I was able to acquire another pair from a friend in the East Texas Herptelogical Society. These two animals where in relatively good condition and where approximately four feet in length at the time of acquisition. I paired my male( now known affectionately as the albatross) with the California female and left the two four foot animals together.

To breed Asian water monitors, or any reptile for that matter, the animals must be properly established in an environment where there needs are being completely provided. An animal will not properly reproduce or reproduce at all if there most basic living requirements are not being satisfied or exceeded. I attempted to provide the largest housing possible for my water monitors while retaining some means of control for separation and routine maintenance. The basic cage design was subdivided to break up sightlines and to provide for easy separation of the animals should it become necessary. I feel that the breaking up of sightlines helps to reduce the monitors overall stress level. The reduction or elimination of excess stress enables the animals to feel secure and more relaxed.

The cage itself was 12ft x 7ft x 4ft which was then subdivided into three 4ft x 7ft x 4ft sections. Each section was divided with a solid sheet of wood with a hinged and lockable access door in each partition. The construction materials must be strong and reinforced as the strength of these lizards, as well as their propensity to dig, is incredible and should not be underestimated. I use an all-purpose gravel/mulch/soil mix as the substrate and it has proven visually appealing as well as easy to clean. Hiding areas in the form of cinder blocks and multilevel wooden structures are provided on both the warm and cooler regions of the cage. A large plastic basin is used for the water supply. It should be noted that changing a large volume of water can be an arduous task but since these lizards generally defecate in their water complete cage cleaning becomes infrequently needed.

Two hundred and fifty watt infrared heat bulbs are the primary heat source in the enclosures. Secondary heat may be provided with fiberglass heat blankets such as those available from Bush Herptelogical. The basking site under the heat lamps is extremely warm. In the midst of our Texas summer ,which was one of the warmest on record and when the most intense breeding activity occurred, the basking site would routinely exceed 120 degrees and on one occasion made my electronic thermometer read an error. The overall ambient temperature in the cage varied between 85-95 degrees. Despite the high overall ambient temperature the water monitors in my collection would bask frequently in the mornings, after feeding, and periodically in the afternoon. This has suprised some as V.salvator is supposedly a species who prefers temperatures at or near 85 degrees. The behavior of my captive specimens indicates that perhaps there is more information needed about this species thermoregulatory behavior.

A healthy Asian water monitor is very cosmopolitan in it's dietary preferences. This varanid will accept fish(whole and filleted), rodents, chicken, turkey, eggs, beef, and insects. During my breeding project with V.salvator my animals where almost exclusively fed on a diet of ground turkey, scrambled eggs, and whole chicken parts. The lizards where fed virtually daily in small to medium sized quantities. The offerings where always eagerly consumed often with both animals feeding at the bowl not unlike cattle at a trough. Remember that small to medium sized quantities when dealing with Asian water monitors is relative. Often times there would be several pounds of food eaten at a feeding.

I consider daily feeding a vital component of the successful varanid breeding plan. The female will need extra calories and nutrition in order to successfully produce the large eggs Varanus salvator produces. It has been speculated that the ready availability of food is one of the primary precursors to cycling in the female varanid.

In my collection the water monitors are kept either in pairs or as a trio. For the reproductive events to be discussed here the animals where kept in pairs. For use a reference they will be referred to as pair A and pair B. Pair A consisted of a 5.5ft male and a young three foot female. These animals where housed and kept in the manner stated above. After about a month of being housed together the male began pursuing the female wherever she traveled frequently using quick, rapid headshakes in combination with mounting of the female. He would go up and down the females body headshaking for the duration. The animals also began using the same areas to sleep in at night where previously they had slept in separate areas. On May 28th, 1998 I witnessed the first successful copulation. The female was underneath the male with the tail raised and the animals exhibited a slight pulsing motion. The animals mated for approximately an hour before separating. A few days following copulation the animals exhibited normal behaviors, generally remained separated and did not sleep in the same area.

Within two weeks the female began to swell noticeably. She also began digging in various areas of the cage. The nest site I provided was a large sterilite container with an opening cut and filled with sphagnum moss and potting soil. The first egg was laid in this nest box July 1st, 1998 followed by three eggs on July 9th,1998 and one egg on July 10th, 1998. All proved to be infertile. Pair A mated again August 21, 1998 with no eggs being produced before I sold the pair.

Pair B consisted of two essentially equal sized animals of approximately 4.5ft. These animals where sexually mature when acquired and where maintained in the manner mentioned above. This was a much more active pair than pair A. Matings where visually observed on the following dates: August 2nd, 9th, 13th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, and 26th as well as September 1st, 2nd, and 4th. Undoubtedly I missed several copulation's as these are only the observed events. The behaviors exhibited by this pair where nearly the same as the first pair in that the male used head shakes and scratches to entice and subdue his potential mate. Pair B also shared the same sleeping area, generally always side by side. Pair B however, preferred to copulate in the large water container present within the cage in contrast to the more terrestrial mating of Pair A.

On the evening of September 10th the female was observed digging deeply in the nest box. Upon closer examination it was clear she was depositing eggs. The eggs where collected and positioned in a sterilite container in which 1.5 inches of perilite dampened to a 1:1 ratio of substrate to water had been placed. The five three inch eggs had an average mass of 44.5grams. These eggs where quite large given the relatively small size of the female.

The five eggs where placed in a Neodesha incubator purchased from Bush Herptelogical. The temperature was maintained at a steady 86.2 degreesF and humidity was monitored so that water droplets where clearly visible on the clear sides.

Two eggs failed within two months while the other three continued to increase to truly incredible proportions. These three eggs where obviously fertile and after 90-100 days had nearly doubled their girth. As the incubation progressed towards day 150 I began to open the lid and air the container out virtually daily to decrease humidity within the container and facilitate gas exchange. On May 15th, 1999, 181days into incubation, I proceeded to open the container only to find one of the 3 eggs had collapsed. Upon opening the egg I found a fully developed monitor lizard with a substantial yolk sac unused. The animal was preserved for display in my classroom. The following day March 16th, 182days into incubation, I opened the container to find a head sticking out from one of the two remaining eggs. The lizard seemed fatigued but otherwise healthy. I left the monitor in the container overnight. On March 17th, 183days into incubation, the container was opened to find the second hatchling sitting on top of it's egg. The first animal remained in its egg. Both animals where left in the incubator for another night. On March 18th the second hatchling was removed to separate housing with the first hatchling joining his sibling after being carefully removed from the safety of it's egg.

The newborn monitors where approx. 11 inches in length and had slight "dents" in their tails which quickly filled out. Within two days of being placed in their new environment the monitors began consuming crickets. Within a week the newborn varanids where accepting live pink mice. Once accustomed to the larger prey the animals began taking prekilled pink mice, ground turkey, scrambled eggs, and fish on a daily basis. Young water monitors grow at an incredible rate when proper conditions are available. In the wild it is thought that they reach sexual maturity between two and three years of age. I am of the belief that in captivity it is possible for the lizard to attain sexual maturity in half the time required for a wild specimen. This fast growth and a virtually year round reproductive potential make the Asian water monitor a candidate for farming. Unlike smaller varanids however the space and food requirements are much greater for a group of V.salvator and given the numbers imported today may present economic dilemmas for potential breeders. Given the much higher quality of captive bred monitors in comparison to the sickly thousands of imported water monitors most hobbyists would be wise to purchase any certifiably captive bred specimens.

Monitor lizards are a very hot commodity in todays reptile marketplace. There are many species for a varanid enthusiast to choose from. Unfortunately most of the available species are wild caught animals. This is slowly changing however as in the last few years understanding of the reproductive biology of varanids has been moving at a quickening pace. This has been a long time coming. Likely the future of varanid herpteculture for most individuals lies in the keeping of the smaller species. There will, however ,always be a place for the large, potentially tame monitor in herpteculture and every effort should be made to establish and distribute effective breeding protocols. This will ensure a steady supply of high quality animals as well as provide a much needed alternative to imported animals.

We are currently awaiting our first F2 hatchlings from the hatchlings above.



Varanus komodoensis

Compiled by:  Trooper Walsh, National Zoological Park, U.S.A.
                       Gerard Visser, Royal Rotterdam Zoo, The Netherlands   

Compilation date:  21 April 1999


Description:  Adult male 
Komodo dragons, Varanus 
komodoensis, generally
grow larger than females and 
may be 3 m total length and 
90 kg.  Females are usually 
under 2 m and weigh less than
50 kg.  The body mass of 
large V. komodoensis is 
proportionately more bulky 
than that of smaller 
specimens.  Ontogenetic 
morphology includes color 
change and transition in body
structure.  Juveniles to 
about age four years are 
multi-hued(yellow, green, 
brown, gray), speckled, and
banded and have 
proportionally longer tails 
than mature specimens (1:2  
vs. 1:1 SVL to tail length).  
Ground color in mature 
animals is rather uniform 
(Captive Komodo Dragon photo by Trooper Walsh)

but varies in different populations.  Body color of adult animals from 
Flores is typically an earthen red with yellow heads whereas specimens 
from other islands range from slate gray to black.  Age at sexual maturity 
is estimated to be about six years in captive specimens (7).  Longevity is 
known from captive lizards to be over 20 years (4, 8, 20).

Distribution and Habitat:  The distribution of V. komodoensis is restricted
to a few Indonesian islands of the Lesser Sunda chain including Komodo, 
Rinca, and the western half of Flores.  Reports of animals on smaller 
nearby islets, including Padar and Gili Motang, are probably based on 
records of transient animals.  These latter populations are somewhat 
ephemeral with the species occasionally being totally absent.  This has 
been attributed to periodic fires and the lack of suitable prey.  The 
depopulation and repopulation of Padar and Gili Motang is proof that these 
lizards can swim and survive for relatively long periods in seawater.  The 
total land area occupied by this saurian is less than 1000 sq km, making 
it the smallest range of an alpha predator anywhere in the world (4).
	The volcanic islands on which V. komodoensis lives are arid up
lifts with steep angular slopes and alluvial fans.  The stream beds and 
valley floors are rocky with shallow soils.  The vegetation communities 
are simple; the low rainfall and its seasonal occurrence produce open, 
semiarid types such as monsoon forest, savanna, and steppe, dominated by 
the savanna.  The species is most abundant in the lowland monsoon forests 
and savanna communities up to 700 m.
	The range of V. komodoensis includes the driest areas of Indonesi
a and receives less than 75 cm of rain a year, falling almost entirely 
during the months of December to March.  Average annual air temperature 
at sea level on Komodo is 26.7°C (43°C annual maximum and 17°C annual 
minimum).  November is the warmest month and February the coolest (4).

Ecology and Life History:  Adult V. komodoensis have large activity ranges,
moving an average of 2 km a day.  This range includes a core area, where 
most of the animals' activities take place, and a larger foraging area.  
Although the animals avoid each other's core areas, their foraging areas 
overlap.  The core areas contain the animal's burrow and favorite 
thermoregulatory sites.  Core areas are defended by the resident alpha 
individual.  Adult animals dig their own burrows or utilize natural 
shelters between rocks or cavities in river banks.  Juvenile  specimens 
live an arboreal lifestyle which enables them to avoid the larger, 
cannibalistic adults (4).
	Varanus komodoensis is an opportunistic carnivore at the top of it
food chain in lands absent of large mammalian predators such as tigers and 
wolves.   It has been suggested that this alpha predator can survive and 
thrive on the islands because the lizard is an ectotherm requiring less 
food than its mammalian counterparts (4, 34).  They feed on both live prey
and carrion and are capable of taking down deer, wild boar, and water 
buffalo (all introduced species).  Approximately 10% of adult 
V. komodoensis diet consists of smaller, weaker conspecifics.  Their keen 
sense of smell enables them to locate food from as far away as 10 km if 
the wind conditions are right and the scent strong.  Their teeth are 
curved and serrated for tearing off large chunks of flesh and their claws 
are strong and sharp for ripping open carcasses.  The saliva of wild 
specimens is known to harbor over 50 forms of virulent bacteria, probably 
the result of feeding on carrion (4, 13f).  Even an incidental bite from 
this varanid may lead to blood poisoning and death in a short period of 
time if not treated.  As an adaptation to survival during long periods of 
low prey density this large saurian can eat up to 80% of its own body 
weight in one meal.  When necessary it may not feed for months at a time.  
Young specimens, living in a different niche, feed on insects, small birds 
and mammals, and other reptiles which may be more readily available 
throughout the year.  Carrion of any type is acceptable to this monitor 
in all age groups (4).
	Courtship and breeding usually occur May through June often in for
aging areas near carrion and frequently in the presence of other lizards.  
Females dig nesting burrows in their core areas which they backfill after 
egg laying.  The nest mounds of the brush turkey, Megapodius reinwardt 
reinwardt, are sometimes used by V. komodoensis for egg laying.  Egg 
laying usually takes place July through August.  Laying females may defend 
nest sites for a period of time after oviposition.  After approximately 
nine months the eggs hatch and the young are on their own (4, 13k).


Wild Population:  
Although not 
officially described
to modern science 
until 1912 (24), 
this unique saurian 
enjoyed protection 
by local Indonesian 
rulers in 
conjunction with the
Dutch government as 
early as the mid 
1800s (19).  Today 
this saurian is 
listed as CITES 
Appendix I and as 
endangered by the 
International Union 
for the Conservation
(Komodo Dragons In Idonesia photo Trooper Walsh)

of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and the United States Department of 
the Interior.  Indonesia accords this animal its highest level of 
protection and considers it a national treasure.  The range of
V. komodoensis, with the exception of Flores, was declared Komodo National 
Park (KNP) in 1980.  In 1991 the park was classified as a World Heritage 
	In December 1995 the IUCN sponsored a V. komodoensis Population
and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) workshop in Bogor, Indonesia (25.
Participants and decision makers at the PHVA consisted of 40 
international zoo and field biologists, zoo directors, wildlife managers 
and authorities, university administrators, and Indonesian government 
officials.  The PHVA resulted in recommendations for management of both 
captive and wild populations.  Priority actions for in situ management 

· updated census within the KNP
· study, census, and protection on Flores
· habitat assessment and census of prey species
· development of simple and reliable sexing techniques
· determination of genetic characteristics throughout its range and on 
  individual islands
· study of the effects and impact of ecotourism

	The wild population of several thousand animals was projected 
to be relatively stable except possibly on the island of Flores where 
V. komodoensis competes with local farmers for resources.  The PHVA 
suggested that major threats to wild monitors may include habitat 
alteration, poaching of prey species, and perhaps tourism (25).
	In November 1998 the Thoiry Zoological Park sponsored an internat
ional V. komodoensis conference in Thoiry, France.  Participants and 
decision makers included 60 zoo, field, and laboratory biologists, zoo, 
museum and university administrators, veterinarians, and French government 
officials.  Information presented included updated data and new accounts 
of in situ and ex situ conservation efforts for this species (13).  Field 
research presented included:

· a DNA profile of the wild populations showing the greatest genetic 
   divergence in the east to west extremes of the natural range (13b)
· establishment of normal physiological values for wild dragons (13f)
· study of the blood and saliva for pathogens and possible development of 
  a natural antibiotic for use in human medicine (13e, 13f)
· prey assessment and dragon carrying capacity on Padar Island to 
  determine the feasibility of reintroduction (13b)
· female nest guarding behavior and egg hatching sequences in the wild (13k)
· an updated distribution profile of the species on the island of Flores 
  with suggestions on how to involve indigenous peoples in conservation 
  efforts (13b)

	A working subgroup of the Thoiry conference helped identify 
future research goals, management plans, and fund raising methods for 
continued field work (13p).  Priority in situ actions listed included:

· the need for a complete census of the Flores population and measures 
  taken for its protection
· development and implementation of DNA sexing and fingerprinting of the 
  wild population
· microchip pit tagging of wild specimens during all future field work
· development of a core group of European zoos to fund raise within their 
  community and to help guide future field endeavors with the international


Captive Population:  In January 1998 the first edition of the international
studbook was published by Johnny Arnett of the Cincinnati Zoo and Nell 
Bekiares of Southern Illinois University, Department of Zoology (3).
	As of November 1998 there was a total global captive population of
272 (65.50.157) reported in the International Species Inventory System 
(ISIS) in 49 institutions (5).  Thirty-eight of these animals (17.20.1) 
are wild caught (potential founders) of which only 10  (5.5) are 
represented in the founder population.  Their locations are as follows:

· Indonesia: 160 (39.23.98); in 10 institutions, of which 19 (7.11.1) are 
  wild caught with 5 (2.3.) founders represented
· North America: 82 (16.13.53) in 30 institutions, of which 10 (6.4) are 
  wild caught with 5 (3.2) founders represented
· Europe: 14 (6.8.) in 5 institutions, of which 4 (2.2) are wild caught 
  (no breeding yet)
· Asia:  8 (2.4.2) in 2 institutions, of which 1 (0.1.) are wild caught 
  (no breeding yet)
· Australia:  8 (2.2.4) in 2 institutions, of which 4 (2.2.) are wild 
  caught (no breeding yet)

	About a dozen successful breedings have been recorded worldwide.
The first documented captive breeding  took place at the Gembira Loka Zoo
in 1968 (9).  The most recent hatching occurred at the Miami Metrozoo in 
October 1998 (13c, 13i).  The following institutions have had breeding 
successes with this species:

1. Ragunan Zoo, Jakarta, Indonesia
2. Surabaya Zoo, Surabaya, Indonesia
3. Gembira Loka Zoo, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
4. National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C., United States
5. Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati, United States
6. Miami Metrozoo, Miami, United States

	The captive working group of participants at the 1995 PHVA suggested
that efforts be made to selectively breed unrepresented potential founder 
animals to increase the genetic diversity of the captive population.  There 
was also a consensus that founder stock should be increased and dispersed 
into capable institutions worldwide.  The zoo carrying capacity for dragons 
has yet to be established, although Indonesian zoos estimated that 130 
adult animals could be maintained in their institutions (25).
	The 1998 Thoiry working subgroup made a number of decisions and 
recommendations concerning the international captive population and future
management plans, changes in zoo protocol, and areas to direct 
research (13p).  One outcome of the Thoiry meetings was the mobilization 
of European zoo workers to form a core management group which will develop 
a regional studbook and protocol.  Zoos currently involved include Thoiry 
(France), Colchester and Chester (Great Britain), Lisbon (Portugal), 
Rotterdam (The Netherlands), and the Canary Islands (Spain).  Attempts 
will be made to include other European zoos holding dragons into this
management group such as Berlin (Germany) and Pilzen Zoo (Czech Republic).  
Gerard Visser of the Royal Rotterdam Zoo, The Netherlands, will develop 
and hold the European regional studbook.  Kmt. A. Tirtodiprojo of the 
Gembira Loka Zoo, Indonesia, agreed to develop an Indonesian regional 
studbook and possibly take over responsibility for the international 
studbook from Arnett and Bekiares at a later date.  Arnett and Bekiares 
would then manage the North American studbook.
	With new information presented at Thoiry concerns were expressed
that we may be producing captive specimens very unlike their wild 
counterparts, and if so these animals may not be suitable for 
reintroduction programs or long term survivability in captivity.  
Research is needed to fully assess the competence of these animals and 
may result in further redesigning of facilities and protocol to meet 
potential management challenges (13p).  Examples of physical and 
behavioral attributes cited as concerns include:
· recent evidence showing captive lizards  are  maintaining lower core 
  body temperature than active wild specimens (34°C vs. 37°C).  It was 
  hypothesized that captive specimens need not require the higher 
  temperatures as they do not need to expend energy patrolling large 
  territories and foraging for food (32, 35)
· fifteen year old adults at the National Zoo and the Surabaya Zoo have 
  what appears to be an arthritic condition in the knees which causes 
  abnormal gaits and reduced activity (13l, 13o, 33).  Clinical exams of 
  two National Zoo animals revealed degeneration of the knee joints, 
  possibly due to weakened muscles and ligaments resulting from a lack of 
  exercise (13l, 13o)
· captives at the Gembira Loka Zoo have been fed ad lib in order to avoid 
  cannibalism in communal enclosures.  Compared to lizards raised in 
  North American zoos these animals appear to be growing at an 
  accelerated growth rate with a possible linear social hierarchy 
  resulting in alpha animals eating the bulk of the food.  This is 
  different from the wild where juveniles are solitary and must actively 
  forage for food.  Concern was expressed that ad lib feeding may lead to 
  health problems later in life (9, 13p, 31).  Some of the Gembira Loka 
  animals have developed unusually fat tail bases which drag behind the 
  individuals and may be diet related (13f, 13l ,13o).
	Other captive management recommendations made at Thoiry (13p) 
 included suggestions to focus on:
· breeding unrepresented founder animals
· not breeding F-1 animals with founders
· not breeding F-1 animals as long as founders are alive and reproductively
· determining the global carrying capacity in zoos
· studying social behaviors of communally vs. individually reared animals
· applying DNA sexing and fingerprinting of the entire captive population
· developing more holding facilities globally for adult animals 
  incorporating larger enclosures with access ability to sunlight
· developing research priorities and resources, developing management 
  protocols and determining means for disseminating information more 
  efficiently (WEB pages, e-mail exchange, scientific and popular articles, 
  other scientific meetings and conferences)
· encouraging international cooperation of common goals and objectives 
  among zoos and government agencies

	The majority of lizards in the U. S. population are permanently pit
tagged for identification with implanted TROVANä microchip transponders 
(InfoPET/TROVAN Electronic Animal Identification System,  manufactured by 
AEG/Daimler-Benz, Germany).  The standardized implantation site is on the 
left side of the animal in the hip region.  Some animals now leaving 
Indonesia have been tagged with the AVID™ microchip system 
(AVID Identification Systems, Inc., Norco, California 91760, USA).  
Typically the microchip scanner from one company will not reliably show the 
ID number of the other's microchip product.  Another company, HOME AGAIN™ 
(Schering Corporation, Union, New Jersey 07083, USA), has developed a 
universal pocket scanner that identifies and reads TROVAN, AVID, and HOME 
AGAIN microchip transponders with good accuracy (33).  Ultimately the 
entire captive population should be microchipped with an internationally 
accepted product available to all zoos with some form of standardization 


Housing:  As a large alpha predator this taxon will benefit from some of 
the same caging parameters which big cats have come to enjoy in zoos, such 
as quality and quantity of space.
	Indonesian zoos have had success maintaining groups of V. komodo
ensis and have bred them in large outdoor facilities (200 to 400 sq m) 
under natural conditions (9, 13m, 13o, 21, 23, 25, 28).  Environmental 
factors important to long term maintenance and the display of natural 
behaviors in this varanid include: adequate space and visual barriers, 
earthen substrate for denning and nesting, natural sunlight, the 
opportunity to bask at high temperatures, and seasonal climatic change.
	Through the mid 1980s these lizards rarely thrived and did not 
breed in zoos outside of Indonesia.  There are at least two possible 
reasons for this: larger, older animals which were easily stressed by 
capture and export to zoos did not acclimate well.  Also, European and 
American zoos typically kept V. komodoensis in small, sterile, concrete 
cages with limited heat sources which did not adequately meet the needs 
of this large saurian.  
	In the late 1980s North American zoos began to incorporate some 
of the environmental ingredients that worked well in Indonesian exhibits.  
In 1988 the National Zoo developed a 68 sq m L-shaped duplex facility for 
a pair of adults which ultimately proved adequate for the first breeding 
outside of Indonesia.  This exhibit is a dirt floored greenhouse 
incorporating multiple retreat and basking areas, a nesting area, pools, 
and a variety of plants which serve as visual barriers.  The exhibit is 
divided into two fully complemented enclosures so that animals can be 
maintained separately as needed (21, 25, 30).  Currently about a dozen 
North American institutions have neoteric facilities for holding adults: 
Audubon, Cincinnati, Ft. Worth, Memphis, Metro Toronto, Miami Metrozoo, 
Minnesota, National Zoo, San Antonio, San Diego, and White Oak Conservation.  
Of these, three zoos have proven facilities (Cincinnati, Miami Metrozoo, 
and National Zoo) where dragons have successfully reproduced.  As other 
zoos world wide are  developing new holding and breeding facilities we 
encourage them to design bigger exhibits with access ability to direct 
sunlight (13a, 13f, 13m, 13n, 13o, 13p).

Environmental Concerns:  This varanid should be kept in a xeric 
environment with a thermal gradient of 25-45°C.  Animals should not be 
allowed to come into direct contact with heating elements.  Fresh drinking 
water should be available at all times.  Recent research shows that
 V. komodoensis need ultraviolet light (UV-B in the 295-315 nm range) for 
processing vitamin D-3 and for proper bone mineralization, and these 
lizards do seek out natural sunlight.  Current in situ and ex situ studies 
suggest that young and reproducing females may benefit the most from UV 
light (1, 13f, 13o).  Where climate allows, we advocate outdoor enclosures 
be incorporated into exhibits.  In temperate climates greenhouse 
facilities with UV-transmitting panels are desirable.  We currently 
suggest Solacryl SUVT™ panels (Polycast Technology Corp., Stamford, 
CT 06902, USA), as the best choice with 85% UV-B transmission.  Varanus 
komodoensis kept indoors should have access to UV-B producing fluorescent 
lights situated 20 - 50 cm above basking areas.  Preliminary indications 
in North American Zoos show that the new 300 W mercury vapor lamp, the 
Westron Dragonlite™ (Westron Corporation, Oceanside, NY 11572, USA), 
produces useful UV-B light when mounted 200 cm above an animal, resulting 
in D-3 blood levels comparable to conspecifics in nature (13f, 17).  
	Juvenile and young adults are excellent climbers so this should 
be taken into consideration when choosing cage furnishings and restraints. 
We suggest avoiding abrasive materials like rough concrete block with 
exposed corners or wire mesh which allow escapes and foot injuries.  
We advocate smooth surfaced, solid walls and viewing areas be used in 
enclosures and that they should be at least 180 cm high in outdoor 
exhibits.  Footers need to be buried at least 50 cm to discourage animals 
from digging out.  Secondary hot wire restraints have been used with 
success at a number of institutions including the Cincinnati Zoo, 
Singapore Zoo, and White Oak Conservation.
	Natural and artificial burrows are readily used by this monitor 
lizard as sleeping dens at night and as retreats from the heat of the day. 
Soil, sand, hardwood mulch, or a combination thereof are acceptable 
exhibit substrates as they allow natural digging behaviors and are 
non-abrasive to feet and tails.  Substrate integrity should be considered 
when animals are digging to avoid collapsed burrows and suffocation.  
Varanus komodoensis will dig under partially buried logs which gives 
structural integrity to the burrow entrances.  If large rocks or detached 
cement pools are used in the exhibit the lizards may burrow underneath 
making it difficult to access the animals.  This species rarely digs 
vertically beyond 50 cm but may tunnel horizontally for several meters 
(2, 13a, 13o, 29, 33).  
	We recommend that exhibits should be as spacious as possible
with optimal parameters of at least 100 sq m per adult specimen to 
provide suitable activity and core areas (13a, 13l, 13m, 13n, 13o, 13p, 33.  
To effect these goals in limited space we suggest exhibits incorporate 
visual barriers between multiple basking, denning, and nest sites and 
should explore enrichment opportunities.  At the tropical Indonesian zoo 
of Gembira Loka a special soil mixture is used in nesting areas for 
successful natural outdoor egg incubation.  The soil mixture encourages 
heat retention, good drainage, and structural integrity and consists of 
volcanic sand, beach sand, river sand, ground red stone, lime, and dried 
leaves and twigs (13m, 29).  Nest areas should be sectioned off to allow 
isolation of gravid females and should have 60 - 100 cm of soil.  
Regarding temperate zone zoos we recommend breeding facilities with 
ambient air temperatures of 28°C have an overhead heat source warming the 
surface of the soil to 40°C to attract females for nesting.  In addition 
to isolated nest sites, we advocate individual holding areas be available 
in group enclosures to sequester injured or subordinate specimens.  
Several zoos have developed specialized shift boxes for animals to 
facilitate manipulations, examinations, x-rays, and medical procedures.  
Specimens will utilize pools both as retreats and to thermoregulate.  
We suggest pools, shift doors, and keeper entrance ways should be elevated 
from the floor to avoid interference from substrate when it is shifted by 

Nutritional Requirements:  Indonesian and American zoo workers feed their 
lizards differently.  At the Gembira Loka Zoo on Java, hatchlings are fed 
daily for the first eight months and then every three days through the 
next year.  This frequency of feeding is necessary to avoid cannibalism 
among young specimens being raised communally (29, 31).  These lizards are 
provided a diet of 20% whole mice and 80% chopped beef or lamb with 
vitamin/mineral supplements.  It is not yet known what possible long term 
effects may result from such frequent feedings in juveniles which may be 
growing at an accelerated rate; however, the majority of animals hatched 
at Gembira Loka in the 1960s died from overfeeding (9).  Recently concern 
has been expressed about the "fat tail" condition seen among some of the 
Gembira Loka F-1s, possibly an artifact of too much food or too rich a 
diet (13f, 13l).  Subadult and adult animals at Gembira Loka are fed less 
frequently on lamb and beef with organ meats included.  All of these 
animals, including hatchlings, are given daily access to hot spots and 
direct sunlight to aid digestion and bone mineralization. 
	Most North American and European zoo workers have been raising 
their neonates based upon a protocol established by the National Zoo.  
Hatchlings at the National Zoo are started on whole 15 g mice offered 
every five days until approximately 10 months of age when they are fed 
proportionately larger meals once a week.  Reluctant feeders are 
stimulated to eat by offering freshly killed eviscerated mice with blood, 
organs, or brain cavity exposed.  At one year of age they are introduced 
to small rats.  Adults eat 1.5 - 3 kg of rats each per week depending upon 
the size of the lizard and the time of year.  The National Zoo philosophy 
is to feed small meals to specimens on a regular basis rather than 
allowing them to gorge and fast for extended periods; they are not given 
any vitamin/mineral supplements.  It is felt that a diet of whole animals 
combined with access to hot spots of 40°C and natural or artificial UV-B 
light are enough to promote healthy growth and development.  Since 1992 
the National Zoo has been tracking the growth of 55 neonates produced from 
the National Zoo female in an effort to document growth patterns in this 
species.  These animals, now residing in about 30 zoos world wide, are 
growing into adulthood at different rates based upon different feeding 
regimens, but all are still alive and appear nutritionally healthy six 
years later (7).
	Varanus komodoensis is easily conditioned to audio or visual cu
es by food which can be used to advantage in management for shifting the 

Health:  Varanus komodoensis is generally disease tolerant but is known to
be susceptible to amebic and bacterial infections as well as internal and 
external parasites (16, 17).  Recent work supported by Antibody Systems, 
Inc.(Hurst, TX 76054, USA), shows wild lizards have one of the strongest 
immune systems of any megavertebrate (13e, 13f).  Most health problems in 
captive animals seem to be the result of environmental factors.  Animals 
kept too cool may regurgitate or refuse food (14).  The lack of suitable 
heat may also lower resistance to infections.  These varanids commonly 
suffer tail and foot injuries in zoos due to suboptimal caging situations. 
Cagemate aggression is also a serious consideration (8, 33).  
	In 1992 several neonates at the National Zoo were discovered to
have femoral fractures soon after hatching.  Radiographs revealed that 
all of the young had poorly mineralized bones.  Treatment consisted of 
providing UV-B light with florescent fixtures and reduced handling of the 
animals.  X-rays at four months of age showed greater bone densities and 
healing of old fractures.  Subsequent groups of young have also shown 
poorly mineralized skeletons upon hatching but have not experienced 
fractures when raised under these revised husbandry procedures (33).  
Research at the National Zoo using Varanus exanthematicus showed that 
these lizards also have poorly mineralized bones as hatchlings (1).  It is 
the opinion of the authors this may be a naturally occurring phenomenon in 
hatchling varanids which is of little consequence if proper husbandry is 
	The authors believe chemical restraint to be an important tool used
for the responsible and safe management of this species, particularly as 
animals grow into adulthood.  Anesthesia protocols for physical 
examination and treatment were pioneered at the National Zoo for all age 
groups (27). Subadult animals up to three years of age and 7 kg in mass 
are successfully anesthetized using manual restraint and masking down with 
1 - 3% isoflurane gas (Aerrane, Ohmeda PPD Inc., Liberty Corner, NJ 07938, 
USA).  Larger animals up to 55 kg are initially immobilized by injection 
with dart or pole and then isoflurane is administered.  The current 
cocktail of choice for injection is a mix of ketamine (Ketaset, Aveco Co., 
Fort Dodge, IA 50501, USA) at 10-12 mg/kg and midazolam (5 mg/ml, Versed, 
Hoffman-LaRoche, Nutley, NJ 07110, USA) at 0.2-0.4 mg/kg. 

Social Management:  In nature these top line predators live solitary lives 
(4), but in captivity they may be kept in groups with careful management 
and suitable caging although further study is warranted in this area (13p).  
In Indonesian zoos adults of mixed sex but similar size are often collected
simultaneously from the wild and caged together.  It is unclear if these 
groups are always able to establish hierarchies without casualties.  It 
has been suggested that newly introduced specimens may experience 
aggression from established captives (8, 15).  Juveniles are raised 
together in Indonesian zoos from the time of hatching with their siblings. 
Aggression was reported when neonates from unrelated clutches were 
introduced and when siblings were separated and later reintroduced (29, 31).
The Indonesian method of raising them together has many advantages and is 
reminiscent of crocodile farming.  Advantages include maximum use of 
available space and socialization which may prove useful in establishing 
communal exhibits for older animals.  Disadvantages inherent to communal 
rearing include a lack of control and monitoring of individuals, the need 
to feed these normally solitary lizards frequent meals to prevent 
cannibalism, and difficulty in tracking breedings.  Alternatively most 
North American zoos keep adults singularly or in pairs, and neonates are 
caged individually due to limited space and concern about aggression.  
Concerns were expressed at the Thoiry conference that these zoos may be 
raising animals that are less likely to integrate socially as they mature 
(13j, 13o, 13p, 29).  In the Berlin and Singapore Zoos F-1 lizards hatched 
at the National Zoo are currently being kept together successfully.  
	Some zoo workers promote hands-on protocol while others do not.  
It is the opinion of the authors that careful familiarization of lizards to 
keepers in some capacity is important to successful captive management (13p).  
Considerations on the subject include limitations in exhibit design 
affecting management needs, individual temperaments of captives, and 
keepers abilities to read and communicate with their charges.  Caution 
should always be taken in working with this species; it should be 
remembered that V. komodoensis is a potentially dangerous megacarnivore 
on par with large mammalian predators.  Some captives show individual 
recognition of people and may bond to regular keepers (14, 30).  The 
sense of smell appears to be very important to these animals and olfactory 
familiarization with keepers and potential cagemates may help with 
management.  Staff at the National Zoo routinely leave worn articles of 
clothing in exhibits with this intention.  The presentation of scat from 
prospective mates was employed prior to the introduction of animals at 
the National and Cincinnati Zoos.


Sexing Techniques:  Varanus komodoensis is difficult to sex visually with 
the exception of very large animals (3 m and 90 kg) which are likely to 
be old males.  Auffenberg (4) reported that males possess two sets of 
rosettes formed by scales anterior to the cloaca but this character does 
not appear to be consistent in all individuals based upon more recent 
sexing techniques (33).  Likewise the use of manual sexing probes and 
hemipenal eversion are methods which are unreliable (13b, 13o, 33).  There 
are a variety of promising techniques being developed for sexing these 
varanids including hormone assay, x-ray, laparoscopy, ultrasound, and DNA 
analysis (10, 12, 13h, 13l, 13o, 18, 22, 26).  Of these methods, 
transintestinal sonography and transcutaneous sonography confirmed by 
blood hormone assay currently seem to be the quickest and most reliable 
ways to sex dragons of all sizes (18, 22), at least until DNA sexing 
becomes a reality (13g).   

Reproductive Groupings:  To trace parentage we suggest single compatible 
pairs be kept together with access to separate quarters for nesting and 
other management concerns.  DNA fingerprinting, which is being worked on 
by Ciofi and Halverson (11, 13b, 13g), will prove a useful tool in 
conservation management of both captive and wild lizards.  Unless spacious 
enclosures with individual core areas are available gravid females should 
be separated from other dragons several days prior to oviposition.  Laying 
females may defend egg sites from all intruders throughout incubation 
(13k, 13o, 29).  In communal situations males may engage in combat for 
territories or females, and females may fight over nesting areas.  Combat 
and courtship behaviors may appear similar and can be stimulated by 
feeding sessions.  These behaviors can include rapid tongue flicking to 
the neck and cloacal areas, jerky chin rubbing, neck arching, raking with 
claws, biting, pinning, and mounting.  Male to male copulation has been 
observed and is thought to be a display of dominance but this deserves 
further study (2).         

Seasonal Reproductive Patterns:  Varanus komodoensis in the wild and in 
Indonesian zoos is reported breed June through August (4, 13m, 15).  This 
is the dry season and the time of shortest day lengths in the Southern 
Hemisphere.  Seasonality of females producing mature follicles is 
evidenced by a bloated belly condition which, when confirmed with 
ultrasound, is a good indicator for pairing sexes (13l, 13o).  Oviposition 
occurs after a six to eight week gestation period.  In the wild most  
are thought to hatch in April-May, just after the short wet season when 
the density of potential prey (insects, fledgling birds) is the highest 
(4, 13b, 13k).
	Thus far the Cincinnati Zoo, Miami Metrozoo, and National Zoo have
been the only institutions outside of Indonesia that have reproduced this 
taxon.  In North America this saurian typically breeds in December and 
January which coincides with the shortest photoperiod and coolest 
temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere.  Oviposition has normally taken 
place in January and February.  At the National Zoo a wild caught female 
has laid two clutches in one year on several occasions, but this activity 
was not considered normal for the species in nature (4) and was probably 
an artifact of captivity by bringing the female back to prepartum weight 
more quickly than in the wild.  We do not recommend biannual breeding as 
protocol.  Oviposition occurs 40-50 days from conception.  Egg clutches 
have varied from 20 to 30 eggs.  Clutch mass can be as much as 20% of the 
female's prepartum weight.  Incubation periods have ranged from 205 to 256
days with an average of about 220 days.  Staggered hatchings ranging from 
eight to 40 days in a clutch have been observed both in captivity and in 
the wild (13k, 13o, 25, 30).

(Hatchling Komodo Dragon photoprovided by Trooper Walsh)

Incubation Techniques:  Indonesian zoo workers typically incubate egg 
clutches naturally in outdoor exhibits under conditions described earlier. 
In some instances protective wire caging was placed over nest sites to 
protect them from predators and to confine hatchlings (15).  In other 
cases the laying females have successfully guarded the nests throughout 
incubation and keepers were positioned in the exhibit to collect 
hatchlings as they emerged (29).
	Of five egg clutches successfully hatched in North American zoos
all but one were incubated in Model #I-35-L Percival environmental chambers
(Percival Manufacturing Co., Boone, IA 50036, USA) as dry box incubators 
(6, 25).  Sealed plastic sweater boxes were utilized to hold the eggs and 
medium.  The egg medium was vermiculite (Terr-Lite, grade 3, W.R. Grace, 
Cambridge, MA, USA) which was initially baked dry and then mixed with 
water by weight.  Eggs have hatched out at water to soil ratios kept at 
1:1 (very wet) to 1:4 (very dry).  Predetermined moisture potentials were 
maintained in the soil by adding water weekly.  Incubation temperatures 
ranging from 28-29.5°C have been used (6).  The best hatching results at 
the National Zoo were from eggs initially set up at a 1:3 water potential 
and 29°C.  After one week the temperature was increased to 29.5°C.  These 
conditions were sustained for the next 180 days after which the temperature
was dropped to 28.5°C and no more water was added to the soil.  By day 230 
all of the eggs hatched yielding vigorous, healthy young (25).  This 
latter regimen was also used by the Miami Metrozoo to hatch 27 of 29 
viable eggs in October 1998 (13c).

Husbandry:  At 
hatching, neonates
are approximately 
40 cm total length
and weigh about 
100 g. Current 
protocol at the 
National Zoo has 
involved setting 
up hatchlings 
inside the 
incubator for up 
to two weeks in 
an effort to 
reduce stress and 
to allow their  
bones to further 
(Komdo Dragon Hatching photo provided by Trooper Walsh)

mineralize. The hatchlings were placed individually in plastic shoe boxes 
(32 x 17 x 8 cm) on dry paper towels and hydrated everythree days by 
soaking them for several hours.  First meals were offered to the neonates 
while they were still in the incubator.  After two weeks the young were 
housed individually in plastic tubs (38 x 58 x 36 cm) containing a hide 
area, a basking platform, and a water bowl.  Astroturf was used as 
substrate for ease of cleaning.  Heat was provided by 75 W spot bulbs 
which produced temperatures up to 40°C at the basking area.  Ultraviolet-B 
emitting fluorescent tubes were used in conjunction with the spot bulbs 
and were situated six inches over the basking area for maximum benefit.  
Both light systems were put on a 12 hour photo/heat cycle (30).
	Introductions of individually raised, captive hatched young in 
North American zoos have met mostly with aggression to date.  This 
behavior is in contrast to the seemingly compatible nature of young 
specimens raised communally in Indonesia and warrants further study.     


Varanus komodoensis is a high profile endangered species which has recently
enjoyed some reproductive success in zoos both inside and outside of 
Indonesia and has proven to be a hardy captive animal given modern 
protocols.  The PHVA in Indonesia and the more recent Thoiry international 
conference in France have highlighted some of the pressing issues about 
this species in situ and ex situ.
	Further, ongoing zoo, laboratory, and field studies will help b
etter determine the population dynamics, reproductive biology, and long 
term needs of wild and captive populations.  Priority actions should 
include pit tagging and DNA fingerprinting of both wild and captive 
populations and a complete census of the Flores population with 
considerations towards better protecting this population, possibly by 
inclusion into the Komodo National Park system.  It is important to 
increase awareness and appreciation of V. komodoensis among the Indonesian 
people because this animal is a unique national treasure with resource 
potential.  Indonesian government agencies, zoos, and researchers are 
currently meeting these challenges in conjunction with international 
counterparts.  Captive bred specimens finding their way into the worlds' 
zoos help highlight the specialty and fragility of this and other 
endangered species and serve as an important zoo conservation-education 
model (13p, 31).
	Unrepresented founder stock needs to be incorporated into the global
captive gene pool.  As more V. komodoensis become available to the 
world's zoos there is need for commitment to develop additional facilities 
for adult animals, particularly holding complexes which incorporate newly 
determined optimum parameters.  Current zoo research interests include 
metabolic and calcium absorption studies in eggs and progeny, food and 
growth studies, investigations of thermal preferences and social behaviors 
in young and adult animals, and determining the competence of captive 
animals.  Work also continues on developing practical sexing methods for 
this taxon.  DNA fingerprinting and sex determination using a quantitative 
sample of captive animals is in progress and should result in readily 
available tests in 1999. 


	We would like to thank the people of Indonesia for the opportunity 
to work with this unique national treasure, the Komodo dragon.  In 
particular we would like to thank Djoko Tirtodiprojo, Director of the 
Gembira Loka Zoo, and Vincent Gepak, General Curator of the Surabaya Zoo, 
for so freely sharing their wealth of experience in breeding and rearing 
dragons.  Thanks to Johnny Arnett and Nell Bekiares for assistance with up 
to date studbook information.  And finally we would like to thank Allison 
Alberts, Colomba de La Panouse, George Horn, Patricia Ann Jaffray, and Jim 
Murphy for reviewing this manuscript.                 

1) Allen, M.E., M.F. Hoilck, M. Bush, O.T. Oftedal, R. Rosscoe, and 
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	An update on vitamin D and ultraviolet light in basking lizards.  
	Unpublished data.  4 pp.  

2) Arnett, J.  Personal Communication.

3) Arnett, J. and N. Bekiares.  1998.  International Studbook for the 
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4) Auffenberg, W.  1981.  The Behavioral Ecology of the Komodo Monitor.  
	Univ. Florida Press, Gainesville.  406 pp.

5) Bekiares, N.  Personal Communication.

6) Birchard, G.F., T. Walsh, R. Rosscoe, and C.L. Reiben.  1995.  Oxygen 
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7) Birchard, G.F., J. Tirtodiprojo, and T. Walsh.  1999.  Growth patterns 
	to sexual maturity in the Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis.
   In Preparation.  10 pp.    

8) Boylan, T.  Personal Communication.

9) Busono, B.  1974.  Facts about Varanus komodoensis at the Gembira Loka 
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10) Card, W. and A.G. Kluge.  1995.  Hemipeneal skeleton and varanid 
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11) Ciofi, C. and M.W. Bruford.  1998.  Isolation and characterization of 
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12) Davis, R.B. and L.G. Phillips Jr.  1991.  A method for sexing 
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13) de La Panouse, C., T. Walsh, and C. Ciofi (Eds).  Proceedings of the 
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14) De Prato, M.  Twentieth century dragons.  1972 Unpublished Manuscript.
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15) Gepak, V.H.  Personal Communication.

16) Gray, C.W., L.C. Marcus, W.C. McCarten, and T. Sappington.  1967.  
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17) Haeffner, R.  Personal Communication.

18) Hildebrandt, T.B., F. Goritz, C. Pitra, L.H. Spelman, T. Walsh, 
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19) Hoogerwerf, A.  1953.  Rapport over een naar Komodo, Padar, en Rintja 
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20) Jones, M.L.  1965.  The Komodo Dragon Lizard, Varanus (Placovaranus) 
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21) Miller, P. and K. Castle (Eds).  1995.  Komodo Monitor 
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22) Morris, P.J., L.A. Jackintell, and A. Alberts.  1996.  Predicting the 
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23) Osman, H.  1967.  A note on the breeding behavior of the Komodo 
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24) Ouwens, P.A.  1912.  On a large Varanus species from the Island of 
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25) Seal, U.S., J. Manansang, D. Siswomartono, T. Suhartono, and J. 
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26) Shea, G.M. and G.L. Reddacliff.  1986.  Ossifications in the hemipenes
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27) Spelman, L.H., R.C. Cambre, T. Walsh, and R. Rosscoe.  1996.  
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28) Sudharto, P.H.  Husbandry and breeding notes on Komodo dragons at the 
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29) Tirtodiprojo, J.  Personal Communications.

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