Quince monitors, native to the Sula Islands of Indonesia, were first described only a decade ago. Soon after they were known to science, the Department of Herpetology at the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Bronx Zoo headquarters acquired a group of these animals with the goal of starting a captive breeding program. For several years the group produced many eggs which were unfortunately eaten by the adults before they could be retrieved by the keepers. Through diligent monitoring by Wild Animal Keeper Melissa Mohring, a fertile clutch of eggs was finally collected. After incubating at the World of Reptiles Nursery for the past six months seven beautiful hatchlings emerged this week. This is the first successful breeding of this species in the United States!
Curator of Herpetology Jennifer Pramuk commented on this occasion, "This is the latest in a long history of breeding 'firsts' for our department and we are quite excited. We have the meticulous, collaborative work of our Zookeepers to thank for this success. Because this has important relevance for international captive conservation efforts, our Keepers are being encouraged to publish their protocols and breeding data. Protocols refined at the Bronx Zoo may help other institutions breed the quince monitor and other related species."
This egg shows tiny slits made by the hatchling's egg tooth. Monitors typically "pip" (the process of breaking its shell) a day or two before they emerge completely from their egg. Monitor eggs are soft and leathery unlike a hard-shelled bird egg.
After the animals hatched in the Department's Nursery incubators, a thorough neonatal exam was performed on them. Dr. Stephanie James, a Senior Veterinarian in the WCS Department of Clinical Care at the Wildlife Health Center gave them their first check up, including the application of some Betadine solution (a topical antiseptic) to the navel area.
Quince monitors are carnivorous throughout their lives. The hatchlings are approximately 9 inches (23 cm) in total length and as adults may achieve a total length of 47 inches (120 cm). The conservation status of this species is likely vulnerable due to habitat loss and collection for the pet trade. Some of these quince monitors hatched at the Bronx Zoo will be sent to other accredited Association of American Zoos & Aquarium (AZA) institutions that have reptile conservation programs of their own.