Your site on European and Mediterranean Amphibians and Reptiles


Dragon watching in Central Europe


On the weekend from February 13th till Sunday 14th we (the hardcorers of the DGHT regional group Braunau) drove to the "Golden Town", some call it Praha or Prague.
We started around 6.00 a.m. in Braunau and reached Prague - after an extended lunch stop near the town Tabor - at about 14:30.
After having checked in in our hotel, we went to the centre of Prague."

Prasná brana
Staromestska radnice
Staromestské námesti
Václavské námesti with národni muzeum (national museum)
Unfortunately the weather was quite winterly and therefore very cold.
After some sight seeing we warmed up in the café of the Prague Grand Hotel, to have another walk through the town during dark.
Kostel Panny Marie pred Týnem (Teyn church)
Dinner we had at the "Da Capo" in the district Troja, where also our accommodation was.
From there it is only a few minutes by feet to the zoo.
At the zoo entry we have been awaited by Petr Velenský, the curator of low vertebrates and invertebrates in the zoo.
First we visited the Gavial house.
After a first view to the enclosure (the pond, the Gavials may use during summer was covered by a thick layer of ice) and the crocodiles, we have been invited by Petr to visit the enclosure inside in two groups.
While some of us were nearly colapsing, I was comfortable with an air temperature of 31°C and a humidity of 85%.
Petr Velenský and some of us inside the Gavial enclosure
Next we visited the giant tortoise house. Beside some Aldabrachelys gigantea they have two Chelonoidis nigra.
Giant tortoises: two Aldabrachelys gigantea (outside) and female Chelonoidis nigra (center)
In the same building, in another enclosure, the Komodo dragons, hatched in 2007 are housed read the english website.
Komodo dragon hatched in 2007
and now it started to get exciting!
In some rooms, not accessible for visitors, the reptile youngsters are raised.
Beside some lizard- and tortoise babies we have been able to have a look to the t baby Komodos, hatched in October 2009.
In contrast to the subadults and adults the babies are very shy and sensitive to stress!
one of the seven hatchlings from October 2009
On the way from the giant tortoise house to the cats house you pass a info sign, telling you something and showing pictures of the big flood of 2002.
Nearly 50% of the zoo was under water, but they managed to save nearly all animals, sometimes with rubber boats through windows in the 2nd or even 3rd floor.
Look at the flag on top of the pole, this was the water level!
After we visited the "cats house", where they have terrariums also.
They exhibit Crotaphytus sp., Eunectes murinus, Bitis gabonica, Dendroaspis viridis, just to call a few. They show Cyclura sp. also, and here my interest was especially on the Cubans Cyclura nubila. Iguanas from the western part of the island can be dinstinguished easily from those from the eastern part and will be described as an own species.
Crotaphytus sp.
Cyclura nubila - Cuban west side
subadult Cyclura nubila, western form
juvenile Cyclura nubila, eastern form
The last building we visited was the "Indonesian jungle". In the first room live the adult Komodo dragons. The female and male are separated by a glass panel. Only for breeding they are put together.
Varanus komodoensis female
Varanus komodoensis male
Passing a curtain, you are entering the jungle.
Animals are living there in some "open enclosures", as well as free in the jungle, like birds and some reptiles.
The indonesian jungle
Walking through the "night house" you reach the upper floor of the jungle, into the "tree top".
flying bats in the night house
But now, back again to the cats house and my highlight of this zoo visit.
Petr Velenský guided us to his "sanctuary", his office, where he has his incubators.
And now we got a view to the Komodo dragon eggs, layed just a few days before by the female.
I have been astonished how large and hard shelled they are.
a few days old eggs of the Komodo dragon
The highlight: From now I´m one of the few persons on this world, holding a Komodo dragon egg in his hand!
Mario with Komodo dragon egg, layd on Tuesday, February, 9th
Mario with Komodo dragon egg, layd on Tuesday, February, 9th
Around 2.00 p.m. we started our way back home - with the intention to come back during summer!
Here I will really appreciate to Petr Velenský for his guiding to the reptile enclosures and the possibility to have some view to the backstage.