Raising Reptiles and Amphibians
A variety of reptiles and amphibians has hatched or been born at the Zoo, including critically endangered Panamanian golden frogs, Everglades ratsnakes, and Oriental fire-bellied toads.
Feeding hatchlings and newborns is one of our major challenges. Amphibians may require crickets the size of pinheads. Reptiles with finicky appetites may need to be coaxed into eating.
This may require a choice of foods and, sometimes, patient hand-feeding.
Dragons Hatch in the Zoo
In 1992, when Komodo dragons hatched here, the National Zoo was the first place outside Indonesia to breed this giant lizard.
Since then, we and other zoos, all participating in a cooperative breeding program, have produced more than 80 offspring
that live in zoos worldwide.
Eggs: Reptile or Amphibian?
It makes a difference in the way we care for the eggs.
Amphibian eggs have no shells and must be kept in water or in wet conditions.
Red-footed tortoise egg
Reptile eggs have hard or leathery shells and must be kept in warm, humid conditions.
Eggs: Boy or Girl?
Incubation temperature determines the sex for reptiles like crocodilians and some turtles.
For example, at 90.5Â°F (32.5Â°C), Cuban crocodile eggs will hatch mostly males. Higher or lower temperatures produce mostly females.
The incubator keeps our reptile eggs warm.
Squares link to animal fun facts.