WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is currently celebrating World Lizard Day (14th August) highlighting its intelligent lizards, in particular Spencer’s Monitor Lizard – believed to be one of the most intelligent reptiles in the world – with the intelligence of some birds as well as mammals.

Spencer is a well-known monitor lizard who tells snails at feeding time, remembers hiding places, and can walk long distances and still find his way home, thanks to his excellent memory.

To celebrate World Lizard Day, WILD LIFE Keepers at Sydney Zoo are sharing the progress of coaches Stefan, a four-year-old male Spencer Monitor, who is fulfilling the “smart” reputation these lizards have achieved.

WILD LIFE Morgan Reid, the reptile keeper at Sydney Zoo, warns that “World Lizard Day encourages us to show appreciation for lizards. They are unique reptiles and we are very fortunate to be working with a beautiful monitor named Spencer named Stefan. A lot of people are surprised because we are able to train lizards or because they are intelligent reptiles, but it’s true!

“We’ve been training Stefan for almost a year and during that time he quickly learned to climb a ladder or station independently, which helps us control his growth and health. He’s also training pet packages and being conditioned to touch; that he is very comfortable in interaction and that he will voluntarily come to medical examinations, allowing him to closely monitor his general well-being.

“We train Stefan using positive reinforcement, we use the clicker to teach him the behavior he wants and he quickly learns that every time he hears a click he is on his way to a food reward!”

Data on Lizard and Spencer Monitors:

  • There are about 6,000 species of lizards in the world
  • Lizards are found on all continents except Antarctica.
  • Most types of lizards absorb water from food, which means they don’t have to be near water.
  • Lizards are five inches long and more than three feet long.
  • Most lizard species have a regenerating tail, which is another if it grows if it breaks. However, Spencer’s Monitor story doesn’t grow back.
  • Spencer’s monitor (the binomial name Varanus spenceri) can also be said to be Spencer’s Goanna – it is a species of monzerra that is endemic to Australia. It belonged to the Varanidae family and was named after the English-Australian biologist Walter Baldwin Spencer.
  • Like all lizard monitors, the Spencer monitor is equipped with sharp claws. However, he does not use his claws to defend himself against predators, but rather to improve the holes that act as his shelter.
  • Spencer Monitors like to eat and like many other lizards, their first line of defense is a long, muscular tail – which makes it quite easy for an adult human to fall or fall!

To learn more about lizards and reptiles at the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, head to the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo.

Related articles

January 14, 2021 – WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo Continues to Educate in Tasmanian Devil Conservation

December 17, 2020 – WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo Welcomes and Introduces Endangered Species

June 17, 2020 – WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo Recognizes World Crocodile Day

August 27, 2015 – WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo Celebrates Koala Joey’s Birth

August 3, 2015 – WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo Launches New Wild Flight Air Adventure

February 4, 2021 – Rockhampton Zoo opens a new lizard enclosure

December 30, 2019 – Cardrona Alpine Resort suspends construction of TV series to protect local lizards

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