Reptiliana: Ultimate Reptile Resource

Ornate Nile Monitor (Varanus ornatus)
March 23, 2008, 6:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Range: Western and central Africa

Habitat: Lakes and swamps in rainforest and other forest borders

Lifespan: About 15 years

Gestation: Eggs are incubated 4 to 6 months

Offspring: 15 to 30 eggs are laid

Size: Up to 6 feet in length, slightly shorter than common Nile monitors.

Diet: Small animals, such as snails, crabs, fish, small snakes, insects, frogs, turtles, tortoises, small crocodiles, small lizards and the eggs of birds and reptiles.

Characteristics: Ornate Nile monitors generally have a dark olive to black skin, with cream-colored or yellow contrasting stripes on their jaws and head region. These stripes break into a row of chevrons running down the animal’s neck. They also have light-colored tail bands. Colors fade as the animal matures, but they are still prominent. Ornate Nile monitors also have a light-colored to pinkish tongue, whereas common Nile monitors have a bluish-black tongue.

Threats: Major threats to this animal include habitat destruction and hunting for the skin trade. Their skin is used for food and traditional medicines while live animals are exported for the pet trade. The first known captive hatching of this animal occurred at the Bronx Zoo in September 1998.

Quince/ Yellow Monitor (varanus melinus)
March 21, 2008, 8:31 pm
Filed under: Monitors | Tags: , ,

Varanus melinus is a member of the subgenera Euprepiosaurus. It is very close related to V. indicus, but it is very easyly to be distinguished by the yellow coloration.

LENGTH: This species can reach a total length of 80-120 cm.
COLORATION: The coloration of the head, back, legs, and tail is a bright yellow. A black reticulation starts at the lower third of the neck and is most prominent at the body. There some yellow spots, sometimes forming yellow ocelli, are ordered in regular cross row over the back. The tail is banded alternately black and yellow on the first two thirds, getting more pale in the lower third. The underside from head, throat, body, legs, and tail uniformly pale yellow, only on the throat a light black reticulation is visible. 124-130 scales are around midbody. The nostril is situated closer to the tip of the snout than to the eye. The tongue is uniformly light pink.

DISTRIBUTION: restricted to the the island of Obi in the Moluccas, Indonesia. But because these data are only known by the dealer, who shipped some animals over to Germany and the USA, it is no sure, that it is correct (BÖHME & ZIEGLER 1997). It is also reported, that V. melinus might occur on the Sula Islands, western Moluccas. V. melinus also might occur on Taliabu, Bowokan, and Banggai Island.

FOOD/ HABITAT: Meat almost any kind, eggs (cooked so the risk of Salmonella is lowered), mice, rats, crickets (when small), fish, giant meal worms and I have found that canned cat food is similar enough to the canned monitor/tegu food to be fed. They are scavengers also so if you see that they don�t eat right away don�t be alarmed. I feed her twice a week but it can vary on size and what you are giving, if you give a big meal don�t feed them the next day if it�s a small meal maybe feed in another day or 2.

IN CAPTIVITY: Because Varanus melinus became known to the public and science only some years ago (BÖHME & ZIEGLER 1997) only very little is known of the captive husbandry of this monitor lizard.
DEDLMAR & BÖHME (2000) desccribed the first capive reproduction of this monitor. They kept 2.4 specimen in several enclosures, each measuring 180 x 110 x 200 cm with a water basin measuring 125 x 110 x 50 cm. The side and the back walls are covered with cork plates. Some big trunks and some plastic plants are for climbing and shelter for the animals.
Mice and big locusts build the major diet for the monitors. Live fish were never taken, but fish fillets and prawns were always welcome.
In April 1999 one of the females laid two unfertile eggs. The same female laid again 6 eggs inAugust of the same year. All eggs were fertile and after an incubation of 168-171 days at an incubation temperature of 28.5°C five babies hatched. The other one just died about 10 days before hatching. The offspring had a total length of 210-220 mm and had a body mass of 21-23 g. Some days after hatching the youngsters started to feed on house crickets. About one month later the first pinkie mice were offerd and taken. No further problems were reported.

Can grow up to Five feet long in total. There are black spots on the body and the tail can be banded. The teeth are really shapr and can draw blood easily but the bites don’t hurt much.
They’re skittish and handling them can calm them down. Catching them wild might take them longer to calm down. They still want to run and hide.

They have long sharp claws that will scratch your arms. Tail whipping and bowel evacuation are also defense mechanisms. Males have hemipenal bulges and females don’t.

WATER NEEDS: A Large water dish big enough for them to swim in, which needs to be changed daily as they will get it filthy with dirt and feces. They love to dig and create burrows. 3 or 4 feet of soil or soil mix would be good. Include a hide box and include lots of branches. They love to climb. The bigger the tank/enclosure the better.

LIGHTING: I have a combination strip light with florescent and incandescent light bulbs. Never go over the suggested wattage of the light fixture. Day cycle should be on around 10-12 hours and the night cycle should allow for cooling, but not too much. The light bulbs should be ones made for reptiles so they get the added UVA/UVB that is important for proper health.

TEMPERATURE: A basking spot of up to 125 or more. The rest of the tank should be from around 95 to 80 and the humidity should be kept high.

Peacock Monitor (Varanus auffenbergi)
March 16, 2008, 5:13 am
Filed under: Monitors, varanus | Tags: , , , ,

Varanus auffenbergi

The peacock monitor was only described as a new species in 1999! But it’s not that different from Varanus Timorensis, or the Timor Monitor (Spotted Tree Monitor). The coloration and spot pattern as the only difference. The difference is the blue grey ocelli, whereas the Timors are creame colored, and they don’t have a pattern on their underside. The Peacock has some pattern on its bottom side. The color up top is dark grey. Numorous ocelli, (photoreceptor organs on animals; spots that sense light but not its direction). They have central spots, often light blue to grey. A red brown pattern is visible otherwise.
Strangely, these patterns fade after keeping in time in captivity.After this period, its hard to differentiate between the two.
In number, there are as many as there are Timors.

It’s length is up to 60 cm, or about 23.5 inches.The tail is relatively fat and round in cross section. Light scales form an irregular pattern.

The Peacock Monitor is mainly located on the island of Roti, Southwest of Timor.

In captivity they are relatively shy, but are not much different than taking care of the Spotted Tree Monitors.

Bosc’s monitor lizard – Varanus exanthematicus
March 1, 2008, 11:55 pm
Filed under: Monitors, Reptiles | Tags: , , , ,

The Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus) gets its Latin name from the large, flat oval scales on the back of the neck which could be said to erupt, and its common name from the impression that it lives on the African savannah in the wild. The term savannah monitor is also used in reference to several other species of savannah-dwelling monitors. In the U.K. the species is often known as “Bosc’s Monitor Lizard.” It is a robust creature, with powerful limbs for digging, powerful jaws and blunt, peglike teeth. Maximum size is rarely more than 100cm. Its diet is much more restricted than that of other African monitor lizards, consisting mainly of snails, milipedes, orthopterans, beetles and other invertebrates. The only vertebrates regularly consumed are amphibians.

Its range extends from Senegal as far as Eritrea and northern Zaire. Varanus exanthematicus is primarily a ground dwelling species that shelters in burrows, although they are sometimes found in bushes or low trees. In the coastal plain of Ghana juvenile Varanus exanthematicus are often associated with the burrows of the giant cricket Brachytrupes.

This species is readily available in the pet trade. Juvenile animals are collected from several countries in West Africa (mainly Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria) and exported worldwide. Animals sold as captive bred, captive farmed or ranched are the offspring of gravid females collected during the breeding season whose eggs are incubated by exporters. Adult specimens frequently become unwanted pets and are reported as being the most common monitor lizards by animal rescue agencies. However the vast majority die within a year of capture and captive breeding is very rare. The skins of the species are important in the international leather trade and originate mainly from Chad, Mali and Sudan.

Bosc’s Monitor is often confused with the Whitethroat Monitor (Varanus albigularis) which can grow to lengths of 5-6 feet. While similar in overall appearance, this species possesses significant morphological and ecological differences and is recognized as a very distinct species.

The salivary glands of many, if not all, species of monitor lizards produce venom in very low concentrations with vestigal function (Fry et al., 2006). The effect of these proteins on humans is negligible and the animals are not considered venomous. Complications arising from lizard bites are almost aways the result of infections.

Black Tree Monitor (Varanus Beccarii)
February 22, 2008, 4:34 am
Filed under: Monitors | Tags: , , , ,

Adult Back tree monitors are completely black in color, while young offspring tend to exhibit lighter shades of green. Like other monitors, Black tree monitors have long, sharp claws and strong jaws. Their teeth are longer than the other monitor species, which enables them to hold on to prey they catch high up in the canopy. They are often sold as pets and do well in captivity with a heat lamp, as long as temperatures maintain 85 degrees Fahrenheit, with a basking temperature of 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit.


Black Tree Monitors are carnivorous(meat eaters). In the wild, Black tree monitors eat snails, grasshoppers, beetles, scorpions, birds eggs, fish, other lizards, snakes, nestling birds, and shrews. In captivity the Black tree monitor eats crickets, roaches, mealworms, ground turkey and cat food.

Social Structure: When threatened monitors inflate their neck and hiss at an intruder. Their ribs may spread out a bit as the monitor takes in air to inflate its body. This makes the monitor appear larger to its enemy. Unlike other monitors, the Black tree monitor does not use its tail to lash at intruders. The black tree monitor is very quick and agile and can often escape its enemies by rapidly climbing trees. They may resort to biting and clawing, as a means of defense if their escape is not successful. Monitors are daytime lizards and spend most of their days living in treetops or swamps in search for food.

Senses: Black tree monitors, like all reptiles, are ectothermic (cold-blooded animals.) They have leathery, dry skin and are unable to produce their own body heat, so they must rely on basking in the sun for warmth. Monitors have excellent eye-sight and can sense movement from as far as 250 meters away. They also have a tongue like a snake. This fork-like tongue provides them with the superior sense of smell by bringing sent particles into their mouth, so they are able to taste what other animals can only smell. This special sense allows monitors to locate food, a mate, or an enemy.

This black monitor is one of the few monitor species with the ability to use its tail as a fifth limb. Closely related species are V.prasinus, V.boehmei, V.bogerti, V.keithhornei, V.macraei, V.telenesetes and V.reisingeri.

Varanidae (Monitor Lizards)
February 22, 2008, 4:28 am
Filed under: Monitors | Tags: , ,

  • Monitor lizards live everywhere it seems, from the African Continent, spread across all over Asia and all through Indonesia.
  • Monitors have a high metabolic rate, and are capable of actually catching their own prey as opposed to scavanging. It is of recent discovery that they may have a low bit of weak venom. This lead to the hypothesis that all venomous lizards are dirived from one common venomous ancestor.
  • The word Varanus derives from the word Waral which in Arabic translates back to English as Monitor. Legend has it that these lizards warned people when crocodiles were nearby.
  • Varanids are very intelligent, and some species are even clever enough to count.  In studies done at the San Diego Zoo, varanids were able to count the number of snails they were eating, up to six.Komodo dragons recognize feeders and have different personalities.
  • The most commonly kept monitors are the savannah monitor, white throated monitor, and Acklin’s monitor, due to their relatively small size and ease of domestication. Nile monitors, water monitors, mangrove monitors, and papau monitors have also been kept in captivity. Like all reptiles that are kept as pets, monitors need hiding places, and an appropriate substrate (bedding). Monitors also need a large water dish in which they can soak their entire body. In the wild, monitors will eat anything they can overpower, but crickets, superworms, and the occasional rodent make up most of the captive monitors’ diet. Boiled eggs, silkworms, earthworms, and feeder fish can also be fed to monitors. Monitor lizards have been compared to reptilian cats – independent animals with different personalities. However, due to their predatory nature and large size some monitors can be dangerous to keep as pets. Adult nile monitors can reach seven feet in length, and are stronger than an alligator of equal weight.

Heating and Lighting for the Spiny Tailed Monitor (Varanus Acanthurus)
February 22, 2008, 4:15 am
Filed under: Monitors | Tags: , , , ,


What’s the best temperature for your ackie? Only it knows! Besause we cannot possibly know what the “best” temp is, we have to offer a wide range of temps. You should provide a basking spot of 120 degrees farenheit and a cold spot of 75, with everything in between. If you provide a range of everything within safe limits, and let your lizard choose what it wants, you can’t go wrong.

Light has been a big issue with lizards since I can remember. With all the misinformation on UVA and UVB and ‘full spectrum’ lighting it’s hard to tell how to aproach the light situation. Which bulb is best? The answer: it doesn’t matter! Simple flourescent lights work perfectly for ambient light, and simple incadescent bulbs work great for heating. Both can be purchased cheaply at any hardware store. If you want to make sure your ackie gets the right vitamins, supplement the diet with vitamin supplements like “rep-cal” or “herptivite”, don’t leave it to a light.

Housing the Spiny Tail Monitor (Varanus Acanthurus)
February 22, 2008, 4:11 am
Filed under: Monitors | Tags: , , , , ,

Housing ackies is a relatively simple task when you know what the minimum requirements are. And when I say minimum, I mean the least you can do to assure that your monitor carries out a healthy, happy, stress-free life. To accomplish these minimum requirements, 3 things need to be considered: burrowing, thermoregulation, and overall well being. Let’s start with burrowing.

If given the chance, in captivity as in the wild, your ackie will burrow. So, to allow for this you should plan on providing at least a foot deep layer of substrate. For substrate, a mix of sand and potting soil in a 1:1 ratio works well for most. If kept semi moist, this substrate will allow for your monitor to tunnel easily. If you plan on breeding your ackies, a deep layer of substrate is a must. Read about that here. Burrowing no only helps with breeding/egg laying but it allows the monitor a place to feel secure, and seek refuge when it wants to sleep or be left alone. Now, on to our next housing concern: thermoreulation.

When housing varanus acanthurus, you’ll want to make sure your animal always has a choice of temperatures so it can get as hot, or as cold as it pleases. When you’re considering an enclosure for an ackie, you want to keep this in mind. Provide an enclosure big enough for a heat gradient of 125 to 75. This way your monitor will always be able to choose the right temps.

The issue of “overall well being” deals with cage size, and cage type. Although you can get away with a small cage, why do it? Give your ackies space to run and they’ll use it. Ackies are very intelligent and active lizards, and they’ll spend time chasing each other, exploring, and trying to escape. As for cage type, ackies aren’t necessarily arboreal lizards. If you give them some vertical space, they’ll use it… but a cage with plenty of ground space is much more practical. Also, because of the high temps available in the cage, you want something that will retain moisture so you’re lizards don’t dehydrate. Wire or screen cages are horrible candidates for ackie housing, as are some plywood cages if not sealed properly.