Rare pair of "miniature dragons" go on show at Bristol Aquarium
A pair of rare crocodile skinks have gone on display at Bristol Aquarium.
The pair of tiny lizards were both captive bred at the Blue Planet Aquarium in Cheshire from a group that were seized by customs officers after being illegally imported into the country.
Originally from New Guinea, the reptiles get their name from their similarity to their much larger crocodilian cousins.
Bristol Aquarium’s Dan de Castro said: “The pair were both born at Blue Planet from different parents and are now around 18 months old.
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“They are extremely cute little reptiles and they look a bit like miniature dragons. They are settling in well to their new home here at the aquarium and it is great to be able to display another new species.”
Skinks lay a single egg which is then guarded by both parents for up to 60 days before hatching. Babies use a special “egg tooth” to emerge from their shells and are born with a reddish orange head.
As they mature they develop the distinctive bright orange colouration around the eyes of the adults.
Normally extremely shy, relatively little is known about the species although their conservation status is described as being “vulnerable” in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
A “vulnerable” species is one which is likely to become “endangered” unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve. However captive individuals have lived for 15 years or more.
They are the only known lizards – other than geckos – that can vocalise and they make a loud squawking sound when startled or restrained.
Skinks also “play dead” when threatened. In some cases so realistically that captive individuals have apparently been removed from their displays only to suddenly come back to life.