Egg-laying Legavaan gives pupils a real-life lesson

She wasn’t overly aggressive, but she did hiss at me when I went closer.

There was great excitement at Warner Beach Prep's junior campus when a Nile monitor legavaan decided to lay her eggs on the school property on Thursday afternoon, 26 May.

Joan Shore of the resource centre said they had seen the female legavaan before, but only from a distance.

"On Thursday the children saw it come through a gap in our fence and shouted for me," said after care teacher Theresa Salmond. Behind the school's fence is a stream and it is suspected this is the legavaan's usual habitat. But on this day for some reason, she decided she wanted a new place to lay her eggs.

"She walked up our bank and lay in the sun. She wasn't overly aggressive, but she did hiss at me when I went closer than two metres to take a photo," said Theresa.

After a while, the pregnant monitor decided the time had come and she made her way to a nearby tree stump and started digging up the sand. She laid 40 eggs.

"It was very exciting for the children," said Joan. "We cordoned off the area and warned the children to stay away and respect the legavaan and her eggs."

On Friday the teachers took turns to take their classes down to have a look and dispense a quick lesson. "The children were very well behaved with her," said Joan.

As legavaans don't look after their eggs, she ran off in the afternoon when a father of one of the children shooed her.

A male has been spotted in the vicinity of the school and it is suspected he is the dad.

The school contacted Rob Deans, who runs a private reptile breeding facility, and he removed the eggs for incubation. "They will incubate for four to five months," he said. "I'm expecting all of them to hatch, although I've never hatched legavaan eggs before. Once they have hatched, I will released them into a river in the Toti area."