Image: © Zoos Victoria

Back from the Dead! Rare Dragons Rediscovered in Australia


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


June 26, 2023 7:26 pm


Victoria, Australia

A rare reptile not seen in Victoria since 1969 has been rediscovered on a grassland to the west of Melbourne. Until now the species had been thought extinct despite extensive efforts to locate them in recent years. Their numbers have declined following habitat loss and predation by foxes and feral cats.

The announcement was made recently by the Australian Federal and Victorian state governments. With their rediscovery the two governments have committed $188,000 to a new trial which will use specially trained sniffer dogs to try and locate further populations of the Victorian grassland earless dragon. This will help determine the level of threat the species is facing.

Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek said, “I want to protect our precious creatures for our kids and grandkids. It’s such exciting news that the Victorian grassland earless dragon has been rediscovered. It’s a reminder about why it’s so important to invest in habitat restoration and the eradication of feral species like cats and foxes.”

“To best support the recovery of the Victorian grassland earless dragon, we have to know where they are. Detection dogs are an effective and non-invasive way to find this highly cryptic and critically endangered lizard in the wild.”

Zoos Victoria have begun work to establish a captive insurance population of the species which will help protect against losing them again.

While the location of the population can not be revealed to protect them they are now being surveyed to better understand the size of the rediscovered population. The Andrews Labor government, Albanese labor government and Zoos Victoria are working collaboratively on a plan to ensure this species can be recovered.

CEO of Zoos Victoria, Dr. Jenny Gray said, “The extraordinary rediscovery of this critically endangered and cryptic lizard inspires optimism for the recovery of this Victorian species, and Zoos Victoria is proud to be lending years of expertise honed through the breeding recovery program at Melbourne Zoo for Canberra dragons.”

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Our Favourite Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon Fact!

Unlike most species of lizard these animals do not have a visible, external ear. This species is so small that they make use of the burrows of spiders and crickets.

Image: © Zoos Victoria

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