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Water Monitor - did you know

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Water Monitor - did you know

water monitor

Water Monitor

Varanus niloticus

Water Monitor

  • is the largest African lizard, attaining lengths up to 2 metres.
  • is also known as the Nile Monitor
  • the head has a long elongate snout and has a long, retractile forked tongue.
  • adults' teeth are rounded and peg-like unlike the sharp, recurved teeth of the juveniles
  • their tail is much longer than the body
  • adults are greyish-brown to dirty olive-brown, juveniles are patterned in black and bright yellow

  • has a varied diet including frogs, fish, mussels, crabs and birds but is also fond of eggs and will excavate the nests of terrapins and unattended crocodile nests.
  • is an excellent swimmer, using it long oar-like tail.
  • is often seen basking on rocks & sandy riverbanks.

Water Monitor

  • following mating, which takes place at the end of the rainy season, females excavate nests in a  living termite mound and lay 20-60 eggs. This may take 2 to 3 days to complete. The termites repair their nest and the monitor'Water Monitors eggs are incubated inside at a constant temperature and humidity.                          The hatchlings emerge after up to one year in the nest. Hatching takes place in the summer after the rains have arrived. The hatchlings dig themselves out of the rain-softened mound together.


  • When disturbed, they dive into the water and swim below into the safety of reed beds. If cornered they will attack by biting and lashing with their tail.





Bill Branch's Field Guide to the Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa




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