In an extraordinary rare turn of events at Melbourne’s SEALIFE Aquarium, the crew has ascertained that a Boyd’s Forest dragon has transitioned from female to male.

It is very rare that a reptile changes their gender and the crew at SEALIFE believe it is the first time this has happened in this species!

This particular dragon species usually resides in Boyd’s Forest but now calls the Melbourne SEALIFE Aquarium’s Rainforest Zone home. This dragon had previously mated with a male and laid eggs, which would confirm that they were female. Sadly though, the male dragon passed away and following this event the team noticed that what they knew was the female dragon, started portraying characteristics of a male dragon, including a more prominent crest and yellow colouration, and that she had stopped laying eggs.

Aquarist from SEALIFE Melbourne, Tim Flair said, “After these changes we also noticed a significant growth spurt and increase in weight. Given it’s extremely uncommon to come across reptiles transitioning, we decided to bring in an ultrasound machine to discover exactly what was occurring here.

“We performed an ultrasound examination to determine which reproductive organs were present. Surprisingly, we discovered that there was no longer any ovarian tissue present and mature testes had developed. This confirmed to us that a change in female to male reproductive organs had indeed occurred against the odds.”

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 The gender transitions has the team at SEALIFE Melbourne a bit stumped, as they are not sure how the Boyd’s Forest Dragon has evolved to have the ability to change their gender, but they believe it is because there is no longer a male in the display. 

Usually found in rainforest areas in Northern Queensland, this unique reptile is generally brown or grey in colour with some individuals having a green flush, having enlarged cheek scales, a prominent crest and a yellow dewlap under their chin.

In addition to Boyd’s Forest Dragons, SEA LIFE Melbourne is also home to a colony of Sub-Antarctic penguins, sharks of all shapes and sizes, a huge saltwater crocodile named Pinjarra, mesmerising jellyfish and many more stunning sea creatures!

SEA LIFE Melbourne is running Junior Keeper activities throughout the school holidays. Kids can learn what it takes to fulfil this coveted role as they journey through the amazing underwater world at the aquarium.

SEA LIFE Melbourne is open seven days a week during the school holidays. There are capacity restrictions and rigorous health and safety measures in place. All guests are required to pre-book online to guarantee entry.

For opening hours, tickets and health and safety further information, visit: visitsealife.com/melbourne

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