Long Thought Extinct Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon RediscoveredThe Victoria grasslands earless dragon reaches maturity in just a few months and is capable of reproducing the year that they are born. Photo by Zoos Victoria

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Long Thought Extinct Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon Rediscovered

The Victorian grassland earless dragon populations have been decimated by foxes and feral cats.

The Victorian grassland earless dragon was once abundant in their grassland habitat west of Melbourne.

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A lizard that has not been seen since the 1960s and thought to have gone extinct has been rediscovered in Australia’s Victoria state. The Victorian grassland earless dragon (ympanocryptis pinguicolla) was once abundant in their grassland habitat west of Melbourne, but the introduction of feral cats and foxes contributed to their decline, as well as loss of habitat. Feral cats are responsible for the deaths of about 466 million reptiles every year, according to a 2018 study.


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The Victorian grassland earless dragon is about 15cm in total length when fully grown and has no external ear openings. It is listed as critically endangered under the state’s Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

A new project by the Albanese and Andrews Government have launched a trial project to use detection dogs that have been trained to sniff out more populations of the elusive lizard. This will help determine what kind of conservation efforts the government will partake in order to protect the lizard. Zoos Victoria has also establishing a conservation breeding program to help bolster the wild populations of this reptile.

“I want to protect our precious creatures for our kids and grandkids. It’s such exciting news that the Victorian grassland earless dragon has been rediscovered. It’s a reminder about why it’s so important to invest in habitat restoration and the eradication of feral species like cats and foxes,” Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek said in a statement released by the government.

“To best support the recovery of the Victorian grassland earless dragon, we have to know where they are. Detection dogs are an effective and non-invasive way to find this highly cryptic and critically endangered lizard in the wild. I’m so pleased to announce that the Federal Labor Government is investing $98,000 for this project to find populations of the rare dragons.”

Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon Information

The Victorian grasslands earless dragon reaches maturity in just a few months and is capable of reproducing the year that they are born. They spend time in a dormant, inactive state during the winter but if it doesn’t get too cold, they can stay active throughout the entire year. Zoos Victoria says studies of the reptile indicate that wild dragons might reproduce only one time in their lifetime.

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Zoos Victoria is seeking donations to fund research of this reptile. The funds will also support the zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Master Plan 2019-2024. You can donate at zoo.org.au/donate.