Monitor Lizard Breeding and Research

To breed and study monitor lizards in Germany


The focus of the terrarium section of Cologne Zoo is keeping and breeding of Southeast Asian amphibian and reptile species, with a particular emphasis on monitor lizards. Although monitor lizards (Varanus spp.) are the world's largest lizard species, new species are discovered regularly. Knowledge about the natural history of many of these species is still limited and only few species are kept in zoos and successfully breed.


More than 10 species of monitor lizards are kept in the terrarium section of Cologne Zoo, both in the public area and behind the scenes. A focus is laid on members of the subgenus Euprepiosaurus (i.e. of the Varanus indicus and V. prasinus species groups). One main goal is to secure poorly known, rare or threatened taxa for the building up of breeding groups and subsequent reproduction. With the breeding of barely known monitor lizard species we want to improve the knowledge about the natural history of these species and build up a stock for a future zoo population. By publishing breeding reports within the zoo world and in zoological journals, we want to provide data for other institutions to reach breeding goals on a worldwide scale. Currently, we focus on the species V. macraei and V. melinus. Adults at Cologne Zoo were mainly derived from confiscations or received as offspring.


Besides husbandry and breeding reports we also conduct taxonomical and diversity research and try to support the authorities by housing confiscated individuals or providing identification keys for custom officers. In addition, together with TRAFFIC and WWF, supported by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, we try to develop a study to receive evidence for the scientific proof of the origin of reptile skin from the trade.


WAZA Conservation Project 09018 is implemented by Cologne Zoo. 




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  • Breeding and Research of Monitor Lizards

    Breeding and Research of Monitor Lizards

    (1) - (3) © Thomas Ziegler, (4) © Anna Rauhaus