Varanus niloticus (*)
Varanus niloticus (Linnaeus, 1766)
* Varanus niloticus Report on ITIS
The Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus) is a large member of the monitor lizard family (Varanidae).
Nile Monitors can grow to about 9 feet in length. They have muscular bodies, strong legs and powerful jaws. The teeth are sharp and pointed in juvenile animals and become blunt and peg-like in adults. They also possess sharp claws used for climbing, digging, defense, or tearing at their prey. Like all monitors they have a forked tongue, with highly developed olfactory properties.
Their nostrils are placed high on the snout, indicating that these animals are highly aquatic, but are also excellent climbers and quick runners on land. Nile Monitors feed on fish, snails, frogs, crocodile eggs and young, snakes, birds, small mammals, large insects, and carrion.
In South Africa they are commonly referred to as "leguaan," from the Dutch for iguana.
Nile Monitors live throughout Africa except for desert regions. Cases of Nile Monitors in Missouri & Florida have been reported, in particular Cape Coral, FL.
Nile monitors require experienced care as pets and are not recommended for beginners; nevertheless they are often found in the pet trade.
Nile monitors need a very large cage, as they can reach lengths of over five feet in adulthood. Because of their large size, adults are likely to require custom-built quarters. Soil, sand, or bark chippings can be used as substrate. The enclosure should contain things to make a suitable habitat such as rocks, driftwood, plastic plants or hollow logs. A water dish large enough for the lizard to soak in should be used. Nile monitors have a tendency to defecate in the water dish, so clean it whenever soiled or at least daily.
Nile monitors should have a daytime temperature gradient of about 27–32 °C (81–90 °F) and a night time temperature of about 26–27 °C (79–81 °F). A basking spot of 60 °C (140 °F) should be provided at least 12 hours a day. A thermometer can be used to verify the temperature. The humidity should be moderate.
This species is very hardy in captivity when properly maintained. Wild caught animals should be checked for internal parasites. The Nile monitor has a very aggressive temperament with a powerful bite and a lashing tail and therefore is very dangerous. If raised with regular handling and a positive view of its keeper, a Nile Monitor can to some extent be tamed.
Albino (amelanistic) specimens have been found and propagated in captivity.
"There are few of these lizards less suited to life in captivity than the Nile monitor. Buffrenil (1992) considered that, when fighting for its life, a Nile Monitor was a more dangerous adversary than a crocodile of a similar size. Their care presents particular problems on account of the lizards' enormous size and lively dispositions. Very few of the people who buy brightly-coloured baby Nile Monitors can be aware that, within a couple of years, their purchase will have turned into an enormous, ferocious carnivore, quite capable of breaking the family cat's neck with a single snap and swallowing it whole."
1. ^ IUCN Red List and search for Varanus niloticus
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License