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Tiny colourful lizard hatches at Bristol Zoo

The reptile keeper who captured the hatching described it as a Credit: Adam Davis

The moment a tiny lizard begins breaking through its shell in the first of a three day ordeal has been captured on camera.

The picture of the emerald tree monitor lizard shows the reptile's tightly coiled tail, and unopened eyes as it takes its first breath.

The reptile keeper who captured the hatching at Bristol Zoo said it was a "special" moment.

It can take up to a day for the tree monitor lizards to break out of their shells, but it is always a special moment when they first emerge.

We have always bred these lizards very successfully and have bred 33 in total over the years.

– Adam Davis, Bristol Zoo’s senior reptile keeper

The Zoo has been breeding emerald tree monitor lizards for the past 13 years.

Emerald tree monitor lizards are native to New Guinea and grow to around one metre long.

The animals spend a majority of their time in tree branches of trees, even when sleeping.

They have long limbs, toes and claws with a tail capable of grasping and working like a fifth limb, making them very strong climbers.

Bristol Zoo is currently part of a breeding programme, along with other European zoos, to safeguard the future of this species.