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Monitor Lizard

The water monitor (Varanus niloticus) also knows as a leguaan, is the largest African lizard. Similar to the rock monitor (Varanus albigularis) it can be distinguished from the latter by it’s more pointed nose (bulbous in the rock leguaan) and flattened tail (which assists it in swimming) which is longer than the body whereas the tail of the rock leguaan is equal in length to the body. The colouring is blotchy black and yellow.

The water monitor spends most of it’s time in or close to water where it forages along the banks of river or pans searching for food which can consist of birds eggs, fledglings, frogs, crabs, smaller reptiles, insects or small mammals. Approximately 20 to as many as 60 eggs are laid in old termite nests where they hatch 120 – 180 days later. They are widespread except in Namibia and the western Cape. Lizards, such as the water monitor, differ from snakes in that they have eyelids (they can blink), transparent inner eyelids (called nictitating membranes), legs with feet and claws, external ears (clearly visible in the lower image) and lower jaws attached to the upper jaw.