Common Water Mīnitor

Biological classification

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Family: Varanidae

Appearance

The average size of an adult species of common water monitor is 190 cm with a weight of 20-25 kg. Males are considerably larger than females. The coloration is mainly dark-gray, dark-olive or black with a little yellow interspersion.

The head of the common water monitor is narrow, elongated and flattened on the sides, the nostrils are located close to the end of the muzzle. Above the eyes of the reptile is a series of wide flaps. On the spinal part of the scales is much smaller than on the head. The limbs are powerful and well developed, with strong claws on the fingers. The tail is long, compressed from the sides, in the middle of the tail is a high dual ring, covered with a large scales. The length of the tail is about 1 ½ of the body size of common water monitor.

Distribution and mode of life

Distributed in Southern and Southeast Asia. V. salvator is semi-aquatic and inhabits mainly in wet tropical forests, mangroves, rivers and marshes.

Water monitors are usually active during the daytime from early morning to dinner. In hot weather they hide under trees, bushes, and also in gorges between stones. Also, they often dig holes near the coast of the rivers and hide in them. Their holes begin with a small slope downwards and as the holes deeper they form a peculiar pool usually filled with water.

The physiological features of water monitor allow to sail successfully large distances, and if necessary, stay under water for 30 minutes.

Diet 

Water monitors are predators. Common diet of water monitor in the wild consists of birds and their eggs, rats, monkeys, squirrels, small lizards, frogs, snakes, eggs and young crocodiles, turtles, crabs, spiders, and various species of fish. In addition, monitors feed on carcasses and human food residues.

Breeding

The laying of a large female consists in average of 15 eggs, several clusters can be made during the year, and the total number of delayed eggs reaches 40. As the places for laying eggs the water monitors use pits especially in sandy hills, live and abandoned termite nests, tree hollows.

The incubation period varies depending on external factors. The laying that has undergone a complete development can enter the resting phase, and the new generation will begin to hatch only with sufficient rainfall. The average incubation period may range from 180 to 300 days at a temperature of 28-30 °C.

Environmental protection status

The species is in the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature  (LC – least concern), listed on the CITES (Annex II).

Common water monitor exhibits in the Ecological Module at the Island of Animals in Kyiv Zoo

Common Water Mīnitor