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Reproduction of varanid lizards (Reptilia: Squamata: Varanidae) at the Bronx Zoo


Correspondence to: Robert W. Mendyk, Center for Science Teaching and Learning 1 Tanglewood Road Rockville Centre 11570 NY


Captivity provides many opportunities for studying the reproductive biology of varanid lizards (Family: Varanidae; genus: Varanus). This article presents reproductive data for 12 varanid species maintained in captivity at the Bronx Zoo between 1977 and 2010. Five species, V. prasinus, V. beccarii, V. melinus, V. mertensi, and V. ornatus have successfully reproduced at the zoo, for which clutch, incubation, and hatchling data are presented, and compared with previously published values. Clutch, incubation, and hatchling measurements typically fell within the known ranges for each species, or represent minor range extensions. V. mertensi was the only species that reproduced seasonally (χ2 = 9.061, P = 0.029). Five species multiclutched; individual V. mertensi and V. prasinus females produced as many as four clutches per year. The shortest intervals between successive clutches observed for V. kordensis (61 days), V. melinus (77 days), V. mertensi (51 days), and V. prasinus (68 days) represent the shortest known values for each species. Relative clutch mass (RCM) ranged from 0.187 to 0.437. A mean RCM of 0.370±0.092 for V. prasinus is substantially higher than previously published values for the species. These results illustrate that when maintained under favorable conditions in captivity, some varanids are capable of remarkably high fecundities, rapid reproductive turnover rates, and sizeable maternal investments. Zoo Biol 31:374–389, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.