Friday, 27 January 2012

Endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana breed at Durrel

After eleven years of waiting rare Iguanas breed again at Durrell
January 2012. For the first time in eleven years Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust's rare Lesser Antillean iguanas have successfully bred, producing two young hatchlings.

Increasingly endangered in its wild habitat, the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, and held by only a handful of zoological institutions worldwide, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust remains the only one to successfully breed this species.

Commenting on this exciting news, Mark Brayshaw, Head of Durrell's animal collection at the charity's headquarters in Jersey, said, "We are delighted by the arrival of these new hatchlings. They are feeding and growing well, and we are continuing to monitor them carefully at our herpetology department. We will continue our efforts to breed the iguanas and are encouraged by this recent success."
Bred in 1997 & 2000
Durrell's first successful breeding of this species was a single offspring in 1997, followed by eight juveniles in 2000. Between 2000 and 2011, despite efforts to get the most recent offspring to produce viable eggs, the annual clutches laid were all unfertilised eggs. Finally, in September 2011, one of the females, who had been paired with an unrelated male who arrived at Durrell's Jersey-based wildlife park in 2003, produced these latest two fertile eggs which subsequently hatched after an incubation period of 75 days.
The juveniles, vibrant green throughout, are quite different in appearance to adults. In a couple of years the young iguanas will lose their green colour and become grey with cream heads, like their parents.
The Lesser Antillean iguana (Iguana delicatissima) is an increasingly endangered cousin of the better known common green iguana, and its decline in numbers has been caused by a combination of problems, including habitat loss, interbreeding with the introduced non-native green iguana, and the introduction of predators.
So little is known about the iguana's behaviour in the wild that Durrell's previous breeding successes have led to a better understanding of the environment and conditions they need in order to reproduce. Some of the original 9 Jersey-bred iguanas have since been moved to other institutions as part of a wider conservation breeding effort. Durrell hopes to continue to gain enough experience to help other institutions breed Lesser Antillean iguanas, which will help establish a sustainable ‘safety net' breeding population.

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