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Smithsonian Produce First Glass Lizards In 20 Years

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: August 15, 2021 10:15 pm

Smithsonian Baby Glass Lizards

One of the European glass lizard hatchlings which has been born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo recently

Photo Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo

In 1996 the Smithsonian's National Zoo celebrated the laying of a clutch of European glass lizard eggs. Little did they know at the time it would be 25 years before the next clutch emerged.

Now the young born all those years ago have grown up and welcomed their own young in to the world.

These births are the result of dedicated works by the keepers at the Reptile discovery center, especially Robin Saunders. She combed through volumes of research before working through a range of different methods with the aim of finding one which works.

Smithsonian Baby Glass Lizards

One of the adult European glass lizards which lives in the Reptile Discovery Center at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Photo Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo

For glass lizards the key seems to be their environment. As temperatures cooled at the start of winter Robin mimicked this by turning down the heat before bringing it back up in spring. This sparked the interest of the adults in breeding.

While the male was clearly ready to mate it was unclear if the females would be receptive. As they met for the first time they were under careful supervision by the keepers to ensure they did not fight and injure one another.

As they lack hands a male glass lizard will grasp the female by biting her neck. Most marks he leaves are superficial but can lead to injuries.

While it is tempting to remove the males quickly to prevent this another key requirement for successful breeding found by Robin was leaving the male with the female for a period of time.

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Each day the female was checked for bite marks, a sign mating had occurred. Once these were detected the male was removed for a period to give her some alone time.

Excitingly on April 28th 2021 keepers found the female wrapped around two eggs which are soft and leathery. To give them the best chance of survival the keepers removed them and placed them in an incubator.

On June 30th the two eggs hatched. Unlike the parents they have striking gray and black bands covering their body.

Smithsonian Baby Glass Lizards

One of the European glass lizard hatchlings which has been born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo recently

Photo Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo

Glass lizards are immediately independent at birth. They will begin to feed on snails, slugs, worms and crickets.

At present the juvenile glass lizards are being housed off display. Guests at the Smithsonian's National Zoo can meet an adult European glass lizard at the zoo's Reptile Discovery Center.

European glass lizards are named for the way in which they break and shatter their tail as a defense when threatened. While they resemble a snake externally these animals have eyelids and a visible ear opening which mean they are classed with lizards.

Unfortunately their homes in parts of Europe and Asia are being bulldozed for construction and development.

Learn more about European Glass Lizad here – European Glass Lizard Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Smithsonian's National Zoo on their website – Smithsonian's National Zoo

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