Four-Legged Snake (48)
|Asian water monitor - Varanus salvator|
This lizard was photographed through glass at the Reptile Park in the Pretoria Zoo. This recently completed state-of-the-art facility is the house of more than 300 specimens of 72 reptile species.
With the alias of four-legged snake or round-nosed monitor it is one of the largest lizards in China. Its tail occupies three fifths of the entire length. There are small scales all over the body. It has a long head, strong limbs, and a long snout with nostrils near the end. Its tail is as flat as a ribbon and its four limbs are stout. It has a rather long tongue with a deep fork at the tip. The scales on the tail form two rows of protuberances. Its back is black mixed with yellow stripes. Its belly is light yellow or grey, decorated with a few black strips. Its tail has horizontal lines alternating in black and yellow.
Widespread throughout most of Southern Asia. It is distributed in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guangdong, Yunnan and Hainan provinces.
This semi-aquatic lizard is usually seen on river banks and in swamps. It is a water-dependent species and has been known to cross large stretches of water, explaining its wide distribution.
It settles down on riverbanks in mountainous areas, good at swimming and climbing bushy trees.
Water monitors are carnivores that eat anything they can catch and consume. Typical prey includes insects, crabs, mollusks, snakes, eggs (of birds and amphibians), fish, birds, rodents, frogs, small mammals and other monitor lizards. They also scavenge rotting carcasses.
Males are normally larger than the females, usually twice as large in mass and can reach nearly 3m in length.
Sexual maturity of the male occurs when the individual is about 1m in size and the female at about 50cm. The breeding season begins in April and lasts until October when it deposits 15-30 eggs, with each brood, in caves, rotting logs, stumps or tree holes.
- Water monitors utilize "open pursuit" hunting rather than stalking techniques.
- They are very fast for their size, both on land and in water, due to powerful leg muscles.
- When hunting under water, they can remain submerged for up to 30 minutes.
- The name "monitor" probably originated from the superstitious belief that these lizards warned of the presence of crocodiles in the water.
- Monitors will often eat crocodile eggs, thus are often seen near crocodile nesting sites.
- Like snakes, water monitors posses a Jacobsen's organ, a special organ located on the roof of their mouth that "smells" scents collected with their forked tongue.
Sources: Eat and be eaten & ChinaCulture.
Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0.