Baby Dragons Born at National Zoo

Keepers welcome new lizards

By Kelvin Robinson
|  Monday, Dec 7, 2009  |  Updated 9:00 PM EDT
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Adorable Zoo Babies: Twin Polar Bear Cubs

Smithsonian Institution

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There's a few new arrivals at the National Zoo's Reptile Discovery Center. Zookeepers welcomed four chameleon forest dragons last month.
 
The hatchlings are the first of their kind to be born at the zoo. Little is known about their species, so keepers are keeping an eye on them in an off-exhibit enclosure.

At birth a chameleon forest dragon has bright lime green skin, but as they mature it can change to a brownish-tan tone with dark brown markings. Experts say the colors mimic trees and bark, helping them hide from predators.

Don't let the name fool you, these lizards are not true chameleons and they don't blow fire. Scientists say their subtle color shift makes them similar to a chameleon, and their head shape is thought to be resemble a mythical dragon.

When fully grown, these lizards can reach up to 12 inches from nose to tip of the tail.

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