Nile Monitor

Biological classification

Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Varanidae


Nile monitor is the largest among Africa's monitors. The total length (from head to the end of the tail) of an adult Nile monitor on average is about 150-170 cm, weight varies from 2.5 to 10 kg. The Nile monitor has a solid trunk, powerful jaws and strong legs with sharp claws that are used for climbing, digging and defending. The main color of the upper body varies from a grayish-brown to dark-olive-green. On the back is a pattern of small yellow spots.

 Distribution and mode of life

The Nile monitor is distributed in the territory from South Africa to the southern border of the Sahara. In the west, its area reaches Liberia. In addition, it is often found along the Nile River in Egypt. Animals are very well adapted to the water lifestyle, as indicated by highly arranged nasal openings and the tail, as if "flattened" on the sides. Also, these monitors also greatly climb and run. Live mainly near reservoirs. In the afternoon, Nile monitors can be seen when they are warmed by sitting on rocks, branches or in the water off the coast. They spend nights in holes, but in very warm weather they can sleep and out on the branches or in the water.

Active during the day, during the drought season in tropical Africa and during cooler months in temperate regions, the activity of monitors is reduced or stopped.


The Nile monitors diet is quite varied and includes frogs, rodents, fish, lizards, small turtles, birds and their eggs, crabs, molluscs and insects. Monitors also devastate nests of crocodiles and hunt their youth. 


The breeding season for the Nile monitors depends on the habitat. The female selects a large termitee, usually close to the water and digs its wall, and then lays the eggs, after that the termites quickly restore the wall and the eggs are calmly incubated at constant temperature and humidity inside the termite. In the absence of available termitee the monitors lay eggs in holes.

 Large females of Nile monitor are able to lay from 30 to 60 eggs at one time. Most eggs weigh 46-52 g and have dimensions of approximately 6×4 cm, so the weight of a large female can be approximated to 3,000 g.

 Environmental protection status

Species is listing on CITES (Annex II Prohibition of International Trade)

The Nile Monitor in Kyiv Zoo

Exhibited in the Ecological Module at the Island of Animals in Kyiv Zoo.

Nile  Monitor