The “Holy Grail” Of Lizard Species: Borneo Earless Monitors Resemble Majestic Dragons

While many find reptiles frightening, these scaly creatures are actually compelling. Lizards are by far the most diverse group of modern reptiles in body shape and size.

There are around 6,000 different species and they are found all around the world. Many lizards are called dragons just because they look the part, due to their wise eyes and sharp claws.

Have you heard of the Borneo earless monitor? These rare lizards, native to Borneo, are also known as “the Holy Grail of herpetologists” since we know so little about them.

Since 1877, when they were discovered, scientists and collectors had captured less than a hundred specimens until recently, because they are active at night only.

Their scientific name of the only living species in the family Lanthanotidae is Lanthanotus borneensis (meaning “hidden ear from Borneo,” due to their lack of external ear openings). Yet, these water lovers hear just fine.

Many maintain that they resemble dinosaurs or mini dragons, with their typically 50- centimeters long bodies, short, stout limbs, and large hands. Their scales form thick, pointed ridges all the way up to their beady eyes.

These rare lizards concentrate in lowland rainforests near rivers.

Yet, given their rarity, their population numbers are fairly low.

Therefore, captive breeding programs are very important for them as they are often a victim of illegal wildlife trade due to their unusual appearance. They are favored by collectors in Japan, Ukraine, France, Germany, and the Czech Republic, and pairs can go as much as €5,000.

Moreover, the nocturnal reptiles are sensitive to a stable temperature of 26-28 degrees Celsius (79-82°F).

Last year, The Prague Zoo announced the birth of five earless monitor lizards as part of a European breeding program to increase the numbers of these lizards.