Nile Monitor Lizard (Varanus niloticus
Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus
Two Monitor Lizards are found in Kenya:
Nile Monitor Lizards grow up to 7' (213cm) and rarely, larger. This reptile is second in size only to the Nile Crocodile
. A stout body, with very powerful jaws and sharp teeth. Large, sharp claws and forked tongues that flick in and out, scenting the air. Their scaly skin is usually grey-brown above, yellow-ish undersides and yellow-green tails, although this varies.
Savanna Monitor Lizards grow up to 5' (155cm) in length and have short legs. Females are smaller than males. Colours of the large scales vary considerably, depending on habitat. Tails have a double dorsal ridge. These Monitors also have a forked tongue that flicks in and out, 'smelling' the air. Resident
Nile Monitor Lizards are found around Kenya's rivers and lakes, never in arid areas.
Savanna Monitor Lizards are found all over Kenya, even in arid areas. Longevity
Monitor Lizards lay around 40 eggs in a nest dug in soft sand or a termite mound. Termites seal the hole and the hatchlings then eat the termites. Incubation time relies on temperature, in the same way as Turtle eggs. No data exists on the amount of years a Monitor Lizard lives, but few hatchlings survive for long in the wild. Predators
Monitor Lizards biggest threat is from man. They are hunted for their meat and the skins are sold abroad. Occasionally, Nile Crocodiles catch and eat adult Monitor Lizards. Hatchlings are taken by a variety of birds and animals. Behaviour
Monitor Lizards are generally seen on their own. They use sharp claws to dig, in defence and when ripping prey apart. Being cold-blooded, they spend much of the mornings on rocks or stones, to warm up in the sun's rays.
Nile Monitor Lizards will work in tandem when preying on Nile Crocodile eggs - one distracting, the other dashing in to dig up the nest. They are extraordinarily fast swimmers and can dive down, holding their breath for half-an-hour. Diet
Nile Monitor Lizards eat both aquatic and terrestrial food - fish, frogs, turtle and crocodile eggs & youngsters, while on land they prey on birds and their eggs, snakes, smaller mammals and insects.
Savanna Monitor Lizards mostly eat insects, small mammals and rodents. They are known to prey on birds eggs, too. Occasionally, they eat carrion. Other Monitor Lizard Facts
Monitor Lizards are often sold for the pet trade. Photographs
Images taken in Kenya's Mfangano Island (Lake Victoria) and Tsavo East.