Rare chameleons are first-ever to be born in UK after their parents were rescued from wildlife smugglers


Two of a kind: This pair of three-horned Johnston's chameleons were the first to be born in the UK

A pair of rare chameleons, whose parents were rescued from smugglers, have become the first to be born in the UK.
The two three-horned Johnston's chameleons hatched from leather-like eggs at Exmoor Zoo in Devon after spending 16 weeks as embryos.
They are the first of the species to be born in a British zoo and measure just three centimetres - about the size of a 10p piece.

Their parents had been rescued by the UK's Specialist Wildlife Services and UK customs from an illegal shipment containing 59 chameleons in Belgium which was en-route to the Czech Republic.
Several other zoos have had eggs laid but Exmoor Zoo is the first to hatch any.
Exmoor Zoo curator Danny Reynolds said: ‘Two things make these babies just that bit extra special.
‘They are probably the first of this species ever born in captivity within UK zoos. They are extremely rare in captivity.

Tiny: The chameleons spent 16 weeks as embryos and hatched from eggs at Exmoor Zoo

‘The tiny miracles are about the size of a 10p piece when curled up and have been lovingly cared for during their incubation by Stephen Eddy, our education officer.
‘Stephen is their doting substitute father and is currently feeding them gourmet meals of fruit flies and house crickets.’
Chamaeleo johnstoni - common names Johnston's Chameleon or Ruwenzori Three-Horned Chameleon - is an African chameleon belonging to the chameleon family.
They only occur in the Western branch of the African Rift valley, known as the Albertine Rift.

Rescued: The babies' parents were found in an illegal shipment in Belgium that was en-route to the Czech Republic

The babies are identical miniatures of their parents which can grow to sizes of up to 30 centimetres or more.
They can change colour, have independent mobile and stereoscopic eyes, a long extrudable tongue and sway as if drunk when they climb.

source: dailymail