Reptiliana: Ultimate Reptile Resource

Dumeril’s Monitor – Varanus dumerilii
March 1, 2008, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Monitors, Reptiles | Tags: ,

Dumeril’s Monitor is a large, elusive lizard native to Southeastern Asia. Until several years ago, there was a large pet trade in Dumeril’s Monitor. They are very difficult to find in the wild and rather hard to breed in captivity, and so it is now often hard to find a Dumeril’s Monitor for sale.

Compared to other Monitors the Dumeril’s Monitor is relatively non-aggressive. But they are relatively aggressive when compared to other lizards in general. Aggression levels will vary between individuals, and like other lizards, an individual’s temperament often reflects factors such as the amount of handling they receive and length of time in captivity; but like all monitors they are predators and their behavior does reflect this. Because Dumeril’s Monitors are very secretive animals, it is unknown whether the animal is common or rare. In fact, very little about the Dumeril’s Monitor is known. They usually make their homes in wooded areas near swamps or other bodies of water. They feed primarily on crabs, although if crabs are not available they may also eat insects. It is believed that Dumeril’s Monitor is specially adapted to eat crabs: they puncture the shells with sharp, scant teeth and swallow the meat whole. Some researchers have said that wild Dumeril’s Monitors eat birds, green turtle eggs, and ants. These claims cannot be proven or disproved. There has been no observation of Dumeril’s Monitor hatchlings in the wild. Hatchlings born in captivity resemble King Cobra hatchlings, which may be an attempt to mimic an unappetizing animal. Captive hatchlings often bury themselves or spend much of their time on the branches of trees. Excellent swimmers, Dumeril’s Monitors are also adept at climbing. They spend large portions of their day asleep in tree hollows and crevices between rocks. They may be habitual animals, returning to the same place daily to sleep and eat. Dumeril’s Monitors, mostly the males, will fight by standing on their hind limbs with their front limbs on the other’s shoulders, trying to push each other over.

Dumeril’s Monitors are relatively large lizards, often reaching five feet in length. As hatchlings, they are very colorful with bright orange heads and yellow patterns traversing their black bodies. The hatchlings also have a vertical mouth band. As they mature, the colors fade to shades of olive, and the black changes to olive-brown.

A French herpetologist who lived between 1774 and 1860 was the first person to describe Dumeril’s Monitor. This man, A.M.C. Dumeril, lent his name to the species. They live in Southeastern Asia, including Burma, Thailand, Malaya, Vietnam, Borneo and Laos. Because they are difficult to breed in captivity, Dumeril’s Monitor is often difficult to acquire as a pet, however, the Buffalo Zoo has a pair that they have successfully bred several times.