Oklahoma City Zoo announces births of 2 threatened reptile species


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is celebrating the births of three federally protected snakes.

The zoo announced that it is celebrating the births of three Eastern massasauga rattlesnake snakelets and four threatened black tree monitor hatchlings.

Officials say this is the zoo’s first-ever successful breeding of Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes and birth of black tree monitors in several years.

“Welcoming these significant births is an incredible achievement not only for our care team but also these SSP programs,” said Seamus Ehrhard, the Zoo’s assistant curator of Herpetology. “The Zoo is committed to conserving wildlife and knowing that we are contributing to the survival of both these rare species is extremely rewarding.”

Credit: Rae Karpinski

The Eastern massasauga rattlesnake population has continued to decline for more than three decades and is listed as a ‘threatened’ species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Black tree monitors are found exclusively on Aru island off the west coast of New Guinea.

This three-foot species has a prehensile tail, which can be twice the length of their body, that allows them to grip branches as they move through the trees. 

Population of black tree monitors in its native habitat is declining rapidly due to the reduction of its natural habitat from deforestation. Black tree monitors are also popular in the world pet trade, with most specimens being captured from the wild.

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