The Flame- Bellied Zonure (Smaug mossambicus) is a small, brightly coloured species of rock lizard from areas of Mozambique and Zimbabwe in Africa. This species is dimorphic, the males are deep brown/ black with a bright orange underside which develops during maturity. In comparison, the females are dark brown with only slight patches of orange under their lower jaw. Their conservation status has yet to be evaluated as little research has been carried out on this species. However, they are suffering from habitat loss and are affected by the pet trade so it is an important species to conserve.

Few collections hold the Flame-Bellied Zonure, here at Drayton Manor Zoo we are lucky enough to not only hold this species but also to breed them, making us the largest holder and only Zoological institution in Europe to have done so. We are also only 1 of 2 institutions worldwide to have bred this species in the last 12 months, the other being San Diego Zoo in the USA.

Our pair of Flame- Bellied Zonures, currently on show in the reptile house, bred in January and our female gave birth to five live young at the end of June. The young are doing very well in our off-show area, fed on a diet of small crickets and meal worms, similar to what they would find in the wild. The young will take around two years to fully grow and reach maturity, by which time any males will have developed their orange undersides.

As this species is so under-represented within zoo’s worldwide, it’s really special to hold and breed this species here at Drayton Manor Zoo.