Quarantine Care of Komodo Dragons (Varanus komodoensis)
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2014
M. Rendle
Veterinary Department, ZSL London Zoo, London, UK

The hypothesis of metastatic calcification of the ovarian vessels in Komodo dragons Varanus komodoensis leading to haemorrhage and death is well documented. If this metastatic calcification is the result of hyperparathyroidism induced by a lack of UVB exposure, followed by optimal or excessive UVB exposure, this needs very careful consideration when moving adult or established dragon from one environment to another. ZSL had a stud book recommendation to import a female Komodo dragon from The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa in Pretoria. Due to the previous history of deaths in female dragons, it was felt appropriate that a fact-finding team be sent to Pretoria.

The Dragon

Rinca was a 35-kg, lean 7-year-old female dragon; she was purchased from the Indonesian government, along with a sibling who died within two years of arrival at the zoo, and the cause of death had not been established. Rinca had a history of attacking keepers, which had made her management one of "protected contact." She was observed in her enclosure and was hyper-alert (sparky). Interaction with keeping staff was minimal and fairly dangerous due to enclosure design.

UV Exposure

Serial blood samples were taken from the point of arrival for 25-OH vitamin D, and UV exposure slowly increased over the next six months, guided by the 25-OH vitamin D results.


Rinca remains healthy and has shown no signs for metastatic calcification.


Speaker Information
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M. Rendle
Veterinary Department
ZSL London Zoo
London, UK

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